Many have argued that the Roy Moore fiasco would have been avoided if the 17th Amendment didn’t exist. These people are absolutely right! If the replacement of Jeff Sessions were determined by the Alabama legislature, we can reasonably suspect it would have been someone other than Moore. But that might also be a problem as well as a solution. This isn’t an article on Roy Moore, rather it’s an article on Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee. I’m in favor of repealing this amendment but we need to recognize the potential negative consequences and prepare to combat them.
Ted Cruz Senate Run
Ted Cruz ran for Senator against David Dewhurst in the primary and runoff. Ted Cruz’s victory was a major upset in the primary. David Dewhurst was the sitting Lt. Governor of Texas and a career politician, at least, that’s what Cruz campaigned on. In the general election, Cruz won in a landslide despite 2012 being a bad election for Republicans.
Mike Lee Senate Run
Mike Lee is a more complicated story, not only because of the nature of Utah politics but also because in some ways it has less to do with Mike Lee and substantially more to do with the unpopularity of Bob Bennett, the incumbent three-term Senator. In 2010, Obama’s midterm, Conservatives launched a civil war and took some seats from the Establishment. Bob Bennett was an inevitable casualty in conservative Utah. If it wasn’t Mike Lee, it would be Tim Bridgewater. Mike Lee may have been elected without the 17th Amendment or Bennett’s retirement would likely have been as certain.
Rand Paul Senate Run
After Jim Bunning was pressured to retire from GOP forces, Ron Paul’s son, Rand through his hat in with Establishment pick, Trey Greyson. Greyson was the Secretary of State and ran a mudslinging campaign against Paul. The Establishment banners showed up for Greyson with the likes of Rudy Giuliani attacking Paul for his opposition to the PATRIOT Act. Paul’s victory was a major win for conservatives seeing as it wasn’t even close in the primaries. Rand Paul, the son of the widely considered wacky congressman’s son ran an eccentric, well-financed campaign. It’s highly unlikely someone with fresh ideas and no government experience being elected by a state legislature as opposed to the Secretary of State.
The History of the 17th Amendment
Progressives had their way with the Constitution after the 15th and imposed the three worst Amendments in US history, but number 17 did have practical reasons filling vacancies. But the Progressives won playing long ball seeing as the Senate is inevitably more liberal with direct election of Senators.
Members in each state House and each state Senate, in most cases, would meet separately to pick a candidate as its representative in the U.S. Senate.
If the two caucuses picked the same person, the race was over and that person was sent to the U.S. Senate. (The elections were staggered so only one senator was chosen every two or four years.) But if different candidates were preferred for that one U.S. Senate seat, the legislatures met in a combined session until they could agree on a selection.
This indirect selection method had its flaws. Deadlocks could prevent a state from sending someone to Congress. Only 2 percent of the races ended in a deadlock–but these deadlocks were devastating, because they prevented patronage jobs from being appointed.
We Need Outsiders
The silver lining with the 17th Amendment is that it gives people the chance from the grassroots to circumvent their legislatures and vote in outsiders like the three mentioned above. Thus, the biggest danger in repealing the 17th Amendment is the benefit it would have towards career politicians. In many states such as my own, the same people have dominated the politics for decades and giving them power over a Senator is sending a complete insider to Washington. This is our fault as voters. We need to enforce term limits at all levels, even local. By getting non-career politicians deciding on who represents their state, the country stands a better chance at getting much-needed action out of Congress.
As we advocate for the repeal of this amendment we need to keep in mind our duty as voters to prevent lifetime politicians regardless of party. This is the way to ensure that the benefits of repealing the 17th Amendments aren’t at the expense of losing much-needed conservatives in the Senate.
I wholeheartedly agree that the federal government is way too powerful, but I would also argue that state governments are way too powerful. If our Founding Fathers were alive today, they would look at our government and wouldn’t recognize our government as something born out of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I believe the Progressive movement in the early 20th Century from both Republicans and Democrats and the adoption of the 16th & 17th Amendments began to move this country into a centralized government which the Federalist would have opposed.
Therefore, if the Anti-Federalist seemed to have been more right should the Federalist Party rebrand itself as The Anti-Federalist Party?
In one sense, yes and no. The Federalist Party believes in having a federalist form of government by going back to the intended role on which the federal government was formed and not what we see today. So in one sense for the Federalist Party to accomplish its goal it must first become the Anti-Federalist Party until we bring down the size of the federal government and restore powers back to the States and the People.