Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader isn’t sure how he missed George Will’s column while he was perusing the WaPo website. He was directed to a recent Will column in which Will advocates repealing the 17th Amendment to the Constitution via Ace. Here is the direct link to the meaty part of Will’s column:
The Wisconsin Democrat [the oft odious Russ Feingold - ed], who is steeped in his state’s progressive tradition, says, as would-be amenders of the Constitution often do, that he is reluctant to tamper with the document but tamper he must because the threat to the public weal is immense: Some governors have recently behaved badly in appointing people to fill U.S. Senate vacancies. Feingold’s solution, of which John McCain is a co-sponsor, is to amend the 17th Amendment. It would be better to repeal it.
The Framers established election of senators by state legislators, under which system the nation got the Great Triumvirate (Henry Clay, Daniel Webster and John Calhoun) and thrived. In 1913, progressives, believing that more, and more direct, democracy is always wonderful, got the 17th Amendment ratified. It stipulates popular election of senators, under which system Wisconsin has elected, among others, Joe McCarthy, as well as Feingold.
The 17th Amendment says that when Senate vacancies occur, “the executive authority” of the affected state “shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.”
Feingold’s amendment says:
“No person shall be a Senator from a State unless such person has been elected by the people thereof. When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such state shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies.”
Feingold says that mandating election of replacement senators is necessary to make the Senate as “responsive to the people as possible.” Well. The House, directly elected and with two-year terms, was designed for responsiveness. The Senate, indirectly elected and with six-year terms, was to be more deliberative than responsive.
Furthermore, grounding the Senate in state legislatures served the structure of federalism. Giving the states an important role in determining the composition of the federal government gave the states power to resist what has happened since 1913 — the progressive (in two senses) reduction of the states to administrative extensions of the federal government.
Severing senators from state legislatures, which could monitor and even instruct them, made them more susceptible to influence by nationally organized interest groups based in Washington. Many of those groups, who preferred one-stop shopping in Washington to currying favors in all the state capitals, campaigned for the 17th Amendment. So did urban political machines, which were then organizing an uninformed electorate swollen by immigrants. Alliances between such interests and senators led to a lengthening of the senators’ tenures.
The Framers gave the three political components of the federal government (the House, Senate and presidency) different electors (the people, the state legislatures and the electoral college as originally intended) to reinforce the principle of separation of powers, by which government is checked and balanced.
Okay… Sadly your Maximum Leader excerpted more than he originally bargained for.
Huzzah for George Will. Your Maximum Leader has never been a fan of the 17th Amendment. He agrees completely with Will that severing the connections between Senators and State Legislatures has been a bad move. (Just as allowing the House and Senate to add air-condidtioning to their offices was a bad idea… Your Maximum Leader has a pet theory that Congress started to go to hell when the House and Senate office buildings were air-conditioned. Before a/c Congress met from January to May/June and then got the hell out of dodge. If you’ve ever visited (or lived in) Washington DC from July through September you know why one would want to leave. With a short legislative year, Congress got shit done and done quickly. Once it became possible to stay in relative comfort in the Nation’s capital you start to get a professional Congress that sucks…)
Senators should be selected by State Legislatures. Your Maximum Leader is confident that changing the Founders formula in this way hasn’t been a good thing…
And while we’re speaking of repealing Amendments to the Constitution…. Here are a few others we could do without…
The 26th Amendment. - Fuck the whiney 18-20 year olds. They hardly vote anyway.
The 23rd Amendment. - Fuck DC. It annoys your Maximum Leader to know that there is a law working its way through the current Congress to give DC a full vote in the House (and off-set that vote with an added vote for Utah). The District is not a state. It shouldn’t be treated as a state. It is expressly not a state in the Constitution. If you want to have full represenation in Congress and you live in DC you should move to Virginia or Maryland. Your Maximum Leader might be in favor of shrinking down the actual size of the District and giving the rest of the city back to Maryland. (Just as Arlington County was given back to Virginia.)
The 22nd Amendment. - Hell. If voters are stupid enough to want someone as President for more than 8 years they should be able to vote for that person for more than two terms. Your Maximum Leader is against all statutory term limits. We have elections to limit terms in office. (Your Maximum Leader can think of precisely two men for whom he’d vote to see a third term. The first is George Washington, the second is Abraham Lincoln. Although in all honesty, a Lincoln third term would have depended on how a full second term would have gone. So that is a tenative endorsement.)
And although he wouldn’t like to see it repealed, he’d like to see one modification to the first section of the 14th Amendment. Your Maximum Leader would like the first line to read something like this: All persons born to citizens of the United States and those naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.
The more Libertarian readers of this blog might want your Maximum Leader to advocate the repeal of the 16th Amendment. Your Maximum Leader believes we need income taxes - if for no other reason than the modern world economy will not tolerate crushing tarriffs.