Discussion in 'Clean Debate Zone' started by 320 Years of History, Apr 16, 2016.
So how do you feel about the 17th Amendment (popular election of Senators)?
Overall, I'm fine with the 17th Amendment. If were to cite any possible exceptions, which I'm not sure I have, it'd be:
"The electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislatures."
That seems to say that the minimum age of voting in the various states is determined by the states. The 26th Amendment seems to have resolved the discrepancy that may have existed as a result of the 17th's wording.
Otherwise I don't have a problem with the 17th Amendment.
I also don't have a problem with the choice of the majority of voters being the decision we follow. While it's not blatantly obvious from my remarks you quoted, although I have made this clear in other posts, what I have a problem with is who is allowed to be among the voting population, this is, in the context of the 17th, who is allowed to be an elector. Right now, who is allowed to vote is, roughly speaking, everyone who's 18 or older.
If you click on the link I provided and watch the video found there, you'll see one man who I think shouldn't at all be allowed to vote. He's just too damned stupid, IMO, to deserve the right to vote and thereby affect the rest of us. My clinically demented mother is another person whom I think does not deserve the right to vote, not now that she's essentially lost the bulk of her once formidable analytical skills (she was physician). I love Mother, but I know too that she can't think her way out of a paper bag having holes on both ends. Trust me, you don't want her voting and conceivably affecting your fate either.
What distinguishes that man in the video from Mother? Humanity hasn't figured out a way to consistently, equitably, and objectively determine when seemingly "smart enough" folks (18 or older) only seem that way when the fact is they are not. Our society will in the not too distant future -- what with life spans growing longer and the size of the elderly population becoming larger as a share fo the total population -- have to come to grips with the matter somehow. God only knows how we will.
I know the question was not directed towards me, but I would like to weigh in anyway.
The 17th should be repealed. It was the main way that states could protect their own interests in Congress. With "popular election" of senators, the states really have little choice but to use lobbying/lobbyists, to protect their interests, thereby exacerbating the problem of so called "special interests" in Washington.
The People already have their say via the House, why do we need the Senate too? Why don't the States get a direct vote? Were the Senators not chosen by the very people we elected, at state level, prior to the 17th? Were they not, therefore, accountable to those who elected them? We elect representation at the state level to look after our interests in that capacity, is it not fair for them, as a group, to then choose those who will look after the States best interests in Washington? Is that not one, of many, things we elect them to do? Who better to choose those who will look after the states interests, than those who, ostensibly, know the state's business better than anyone?
Note my edits to your sentence. Let me know if I've incorrectly revised your statement.
Rank and file voters, and not the legislatures or governors of the states, should directly elect Senators because the former approach makes Senators accountable to the general electorate in their respective states rather than to the controlling/prevailing political powers in those states. Moreover, it (theoretically) puts closer to the will of the general electorate the decisions that fall within the exclusive purview of the Senate. Were the Senate not to have any exclusive powers, it would not be as important that Senators be directly elected by voters. Lastly, permitting rank and file voters to choose U.S. Senators is thematically in keeping with the idea of "rule by the people," at least as much as it can be in a representative democracy.
And to hell with states' rights I guess. They can't leave the union, and they don't get a direct say in the governance there of. Seems pretty fair and just. NOT!!! I understand your arguement and accept it as your opinion, however, it is my beleif that the Founders did not foresee majority rule as the ultimate way to go, otherwise they would have made it clear that that was the intent. Instead, they gave specific rights, and responsibilities to the Federal government, reserving the rest to the States and the People, and established a means for the States AND the people to hold the governing bodies accountable. Removing the States' ability to have direct representation in the Federal Government effectively undermines the very rights the Consitution reserved to the States. Now it is devolving to the People, without the States. At some point there will be little need for the States to exist. Then we will have true majority rule, as there will no longer be a check and balance to Federal power.
Well, our nation has already lived under the idea of states rights. That was the era of the Articles of Confederation. The Founders went out of their way to scrap that model of governance. So, yes, for the most part, but not entirely, to hell with states' rights.
See the tenth amendment.
This country was founded as a union of States ( also refered to at the time as "nations). If those said states have no voice, why do they exist?
The 10th Amendment:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
I don't see what the 10th has to do with the nature and extent of representation the people of the several states have or don't have in the U.S. Congress/Senate.
I'm beginning to glean that you perceive the states themselves as having some sort of rights on their own and that are separate from those of the people who live in those states. I am because you've now several times written about state's rights in what seems to be a very literal context. (see red italics text, above and below)
I initially thought you were writing "states" in the sense of the people of those states. I think I was mistaken in interpreting your remarks in that way. I now think you are referring to the governments of the states rather than the people governed in those states.
Literally millions of things - actual objects, concepts, even life forms -- exist and have no voice. Millions of people also exist and have no voice. You tell me why those people exist and have no voice, or ask them. I have a voice -- literally, politically, professionally, within my family, etc. -- and I use when I see fit, so I don't know the answer to your question. I can say I've back in college and variously afterwards considering the philosophical question of why I or people in general exist, but I don't think my answer in that context is the sort of response you seek in this discussion.
Returning to the 17th Amendment, its purpose, impact, etc., ...
That the Founders envisioned a Senate (upper house) comprised of men who are somewhat insulated from the vagaries and whimsicality of popular opinion is hardly surprising. The similarities between the Senate and the House of Lords in Parliament aren't hard to see, ditto between the House of Representatives and the House of Commons. Thus it's no less a mystery why the Founders sought to retain some of Lords' character -- appointment by the power and social elite, for example -- and discard other aspects of it -- its political supremacy over Commons. Be that as it may, the initiative to ratify the 17th began in 1826 when direct election of senators was first proposed, hardly a time when the Founders' intentions were not well understood.
Cartoon portraying the time it took to pass the Seventeenth Amendment allowing the direct election of U.S. senators
In the 1870s, voters sent a petition to the House of Representatives for a popular election. From 1893 to 1902, momentum increased considerably. Each year during that period, a constitutional amendment to elect senators by popular vote was proposed in Congress, but the Senate fiercely resisted change, despite the frequent vacancies and disputed election results. In the mid-1890s, the Populist party incorporated the direct election of senators into its party platform, although neither the Democrats nor the Republicans paid much notice at the time. In the early 1900s, one state initiated changes on its own. Oregon pioneered direct election and experimented with different measures over several years until it succeeded in 1907. Soon after, Nebraska followed suit and laid the foundation for other states to adopt measures reflecting the people's will. Senators who resisted reform had difficulty ignoring the growing support for direct election of senators.
The Founders had one central goal following the penning of the Constitution: to get the Constitution ratified by the 13 states. The election of delegates to the Constitutional Convention established the precedent for state selection. The framers believed that in electing senators, state legislatures would cement their tie with the national government, which would increase the chances for ratifying the Constitution. They also expected that senators elected by state legislatures would be able to concentrate on the business at hand without pressure from the populace.
Mid-1800s prior to the Civil War:
By the mid-1850s, growing hostilities in various states resulted in vacant Senate seats. In Indiana, for example, the conflict between Democrats in the southern half of the state and the emerging Republican party in the northern half prevented the election of any candidate, thereby leaving the Senate seat vacant for two years. This marked the beginning of many contentious battles in state legislatures, as the struggle to elect senators reflected the increasing tensions over slavery and states' rights which led to the Civil War.
Post Civil War to 1913:
After the Civil War, problems in senatorial elections by the state legislatures multiplied. In one case in the late 1860s, the election of Senator John Stockton of New Jersey was contested on the grounds that he had been elected by a plurality rather than a majority in the state legislature. Stockton based his defense on the observation that not all states elected their senators in the same way, and presented a report that illustrated the inconsistency in state elections of senators. In response, Congress passed a law in 1866 regulating how and when senators were elected in each state. This was the first change in the process of senatorial elections created by the Founders. The law helped but did not entirely solve the problem, and deadlocks in some legislatures continued to cause long vacancies in some Senate seats.
Intimidation and bribery marked some of the states' selection of senators. Nine bribery cases were brought before the Senate between 1866 and 1906. In addition, forty-five deadlocks occurred in twenty states between 1891 and 1905, resulting in numerous delays in seating senators. In 1899, problems in electing a senator in Delaware were so acute that the state legislature did not send a senator to Washington for four years.
In 1901, Oregon created a straw election for Senate -- The Oregon Plan -- that had voters select among competing candidates and sought to bind state legislators to follow the dictates of the vote in the state legislative election. Prescriptive elections of this sort were soon adopted by 13 other states and continued to be conducted until direct election. The presence of senatorial candidates on the ballot shaped both coattail voting and the legislative elections. In the first instance it reminded voters of the broader implications of their state legislative vote and in the second, informed legislators of the candidate choice that would meet with their constituents’ approbation. [I realize the last sentence opens the door to a discussion or the relative merits of delegatory vs. trusteeship forms of republican governance.]
After the turn of the century, momentum for reform grew rapidly. William Randolph Hearst expanded his publishing empire with Cosmopolitan, and championed the cause of direct election with muckraking articles and strong advocacy of reform. Hearst hired a veteran reporter, David Graham Phillips, who wrote scathing pieces on senators, portraying them as pawns of industrialists and financiers. The pieces became a series titled "The Treason of the Senate," which appeared in several monthly issues of the magazine in 1906. These articles galvanized the public into maintaining pressure on the Senate for reform.
Increasingly, senators were elected based on state referenda, similar to the means developed by Oregon. By 1912, as many as twenty-nine states elected senators either as nominees of their party's primary or in a general election. As representatives of a direct election process, the new senators supported measures that argued for federal legislation, but in order to achieve reform, a constitutional amendment was required. In 1911, Senator Joseph Bristow from Kansas offered a resolution, proposing a constitutional amendment. The idea also enjoyed strong support from Senator William Borah of Idaho, himself a product of direct election. Eight southern senators and all Republican senators from New England, New York, and Pennsylvania opposed Senator Bristow's resolution. The Senate approved the resolution largely because of the senators who had been elected by state-initiated reforms, many of whom were serving their first term, and therefore may have been more willing to support direct election. After the Senate passed the amendment, which represented the culmination of decades of debate about the issue, the measure moved to the House of Representatives.
The House initially fared no better than the Senate in its early discussions of the proposed amendment. Much wrangling characterized the debates, but in the summer of 1912 the House finally passed the amendment and sent it to the states for ratification. The campaign for public support was aided by senators such as Borah and political scientist George H. Haynes, whose scholarly work on the Senate contributed greatly to passage of the amendment.
[Seventeenth Amendment What it Says What it Means and a timeline]
In light of the above, mere repeal of the 17th might not change much, unless these improvisations were also prohibited by amendment. Also, the Amendment was an important harbinger of one person/one vote, bypassing malapportioned legislatures and eliminating all sorts of democratic oddities that existed under the pre-Amendment regime. (For example, in 1858, Republicans outpolled Democrats in Illinois, but Douglas beat Lincoln in the Senate race thanks to various quirks of districting.) In addition, the Amendment has created an important pool of democratically-selected and foreign-policy savvy leaders who are plausible presidential candidates. (Governors and House members are also directly elected, but have much less experience with foreign policy; Cabinet members are not elected.) Moreover, and critical to any thorough consideration of repealing the 17th is the fact that the Seventeenth Amendment has also probably reduced corruption in state legislatures [pp. 409-15] whose members were, under the pre-17th Amendment regime, more than occasionally bribed in connection with Senate elections. That reality should be more than enough to motivate one to "be careful for what one asks, lest one get it."
I have either the time, nor the inclination to read your history lesson. I, therefore, must conclude that we will continue to disagree on this matter.
Separate names with a comma.