Repeal the Seventeenth Amendment

When I was in High School we were required to study Americanism vs. Communism. My Studies in that subject as well as in American History taught me that Senators were originally to be chosen by the Legislature of each State and serve a term of six years. The reason for this was to allow the states to have representation in the Federal Government.

The Tenth Amendment in the Bill of Rights expressly states: “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.”

What has happened to the Tenth Amendment? Has it been repealed? No. Then why have the States become subservient to the almighty Federal Government and why have the limited powers of the Federal government become unlimited?

The Tenth Amendment defines federalism. The Federal government had limited duties outlined in the articles of the Constitution. They are, according to the Preamble, to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure our liberty as well as that of our posterity. These limited powers belong to the United States Federal Government. Notice that each of these concepts is something that must apply to all the states simultaneously and that is why they are in the purview of the Federal government.

We know from everyday observation that the Federal government has grown out of proportion to its original intended duties. The Federal government is in every aspect of our lives, from our toilets to our light bulbs. Many in the Federal government are even advocating regulating (at the Federal level) what we eat. The takeover of the healthcare industry will give the Federal government the power to regulate when we will receive health care and when we will not. These things and myriads of other things the Federal government regulates are not delegated to the United States, but to the states respectively, or the people. Yet, the almighty Federal government retains these powers that simply do not belong to it. They are like the big bully in the neighborhood. Why has this happened?

It has happened because of the Seventeenth Amendment. That Amendment singlehandedly stripped the States of their representation in the Federal government. By requiring the direct election of Senators, this Amendment has taken away any representation by the states’ own representatives and relegated them to the people directly. What is wrong with that, you might ask? What could be wrong with the people directly electing representatives to the Federal government?

Nothing is wrong with directly electing representatives to serve the people. However, we already have directly elected representatives-535 of them. The US Congress is the people’s house. The Senate was reserved to represent the states and not the people. The Seventeenth Amendment has made Senators responsible directly to the people and not the states. By making Senators beholding to the people instead of the state legislatures, the states have lost their representation in Congress. This is the primary reason the states have lost many of their rights. Lack of state representation in the Federal government has allowed that government to trample any rights the states may have had, thus allowing the central government, which was created by the states, to rule its creators.

Here is what two of our founders thought about this subject.

James Madison, The Federalist Papers no.39: “The Senate, on the other hand, will derive its powers from the states, and in this respect the government is federal, not national.”
Fisher Ames, Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution: The Senators “are in the quality of ambassadors of the states, and it will not be denied that some permanency in their office is necessary to a discharge of their duty. Now, if they were chosen yearly, how could they perform their trust? If they would be brought by that means more immediately under the influence of the people, then they will represent the state legislatures less, and become the representatives of individuals. This belongs to the other house. The absurdity of this, and its repugnancy to the federal principles of the Constitution, will appear more fully, by supposing that they are to be chosen by the people at large. If there is any force in the objection to this article, this would be proper. But whom, in that case, would they represent? Not the legislatures of the states, but the people. This would totally obliterate the federal features of the Constitution. What would become of the state governments, and on whom would devolve the duty of defending them against the encroachments of the federal government? A consolidation of the states would ensue, which, it is conceded, would subvert the new Constitution, and against which this very article, so much condemned, is our best security.

The Senate is the organ of government that allows the states to retain their sovereignty and keep the Federal government at bay. Since the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913, under the administration of President Woodrow Wilson, elitist and socialist leader of the early twentieth century, the Federal government has grown steadily in rank and power and the states have lost power and influence to the Federal government, an entity that they, the states themselves, created. The Seventeenth Amendment, in effect, took the leash off of a bad dog, releasing it to do harm. That was the exact aim of Wilson and his fellow statists when they presided over the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment.

The Tea Parties and the September Twelfth protest in 2009 of nearly a million American citizens who marched in Washington DC to demand the curtailing of a further burgeoning Federal government are an attestation to the fear regular American Citizens have of the ever increasing power and spending in Washington. Now is an opportune time to repeal the Seventeenth Amendment and allowed the Senators to go back to directly representing the States and the people indirectly through the states. The people will not lose their influence over the Senators completely. The people will still be able to influence the Senate through the election of state legislators and governors.

Copyright © 9/15/2009, Mark Oaks. All rights reserved.

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