Time to Toss AMENDMENT XVII into History’s Dumpster 

The 17th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution changed the way Senators are selected. Originally Senators were appointed by the States. Now Senators are elected by the people of the State. The original idea was that Senators would be there to represent their States thus bringing a different perspective to legislation and appointments than the directly elected members of the House. Now the only difference between a Senator and a Representative is the length of their term. A Senator’s term is 6 years which, those who favor direct election may argue, makes them less concerned about elections and more likely to take a longer view on issues than the House. However both now look first to the voters and the media, not to the States and the Constitution. 

On its face, direct election seems like a common sense idea. However, as we learn more and more about Washington corruption, it has become increasingly obvious that there really is a corrupt Washington bureaucracy, a “swamp”. The recent impeachment fiasco put a spotlight on the House and the Senate. The House behaved like partisan rabble, as the founders figured they would. Unfortunately, while the Senate did follow its rules and allowed both sides to present, far too many members behaved like the rabble in the House. Repealing the 17th Amendment would help to restore the dignity of the Senate and reform the bureaucracy in a few important ways.

First, since Senators would be appointed by the States, they would be less a part of the Washington scene, less likely to be a part of the swamp. They would be more likely to pay more attention to our Constitution than to getting re-elected. 

Second, the type of person who is appointed would more likely be someone who is not seeking personal glory or power. It seems obvious that most of our current politicians are not our most capable or honest people. The opportunity for a State to select people who are not self-centered egomaniacs is very exciting. 

Third this action also would increase the importance of State government, and thus bring government closer to the people, even though it may seem counter-intuitive. 

One of the original reasons for changing to direct elections was State corruption. Certainly that is a real concern, but one that can be dealt with without such a major change to the Constitution. Washington itself is now more corrupt than it was before the 17th Amendment was approved. 

Repealing the 17th Amendment would have a huge positive impact on Washington, and will greatly reduce the power of the “swamp”. 

JSK/01/31/2020

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