It was a shock to see Jeff Flake’s performance in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday afternoon. On the vote he caved into the Democrats stalling measure to have an additional FBI investigation into Brett Kavanaugh prior to his nomination vote on the Senate floor. Jeff Flake once again reminded everybody that he is in the Senate for himself. It seems noble that an individual would oppose party lines and think freely in the Senate. The existence of political mavericks would be splendid in a seat that was up for reelections more frequently than every six years. But a Senator in the United State is afforded the luxury of a six year, six figure salary, acting a fool as they please.
Who does a Senator represent?
The 17th Amendment called for the direct election of Senators by the people. The people already had representation in our bicameral legislature. The House of Representatives serves as the direct voice of the people, while the Senate served as a voice for the states. Now that Senators no longer represent their state, who do they represent? Is it their constituents? Or themselves? In theory, since the 17th Amendment was a populist amendment, the Senator is now a representative of the people? But what incentive does a Senator have to represent the people, rather than themselves.
Arizona is an excellent case study, in which we have three vastly different subjects. John McCain consistently had one of the worst voting records in the US Senate. According to GovTrack, from Jan 1987 to Aug 2018, McCain missed 1,220 of 10,383 roll call votes, which is 11.7%. This is much worse than the median of 1.5% among the lifetime records of senators serving in Aug 2018. Even into death, when physically unable to perform the duties of a Senator, John McCain refused to abdicate the position. Prior to the 17th Amendment, despite a six year term, the state could recall their Senators for various reasons. New Jersey was unable to remove Bob Menendez while he faced trial and Florida was unable to remove Marco Rubio while he was moping in 2015. Minnesota had to wait for Al Franken to resign. Removing an underperforming, inactive, or scandal enthralled Senator is entirely difficult in our society.
In contrast, compare that with Senator Jon Kyl. He has been appointed to temporarily replace John McCain. He was appointed with the confidence that he would vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Jon Kyl will represent the interests of the state of Arizona, or at a minimum, its governor. And while the state cannot hold him to accountable, Jon Kyl recognizes his task to represent the state, as he is not currently an elected official. Jeff Flake who is retiring has been considered a wild card for some time now because he’s accountable to only himself.
The return of the Senate to the states would cut down on underperformance. If a state is underrepresented in the Senate it would be their fault, but that issue was already rare. If a Senator missed key votes, voted the wrong way, or committed conduct unbecoming, they could be recalled. Senate elections wouldn’t require millions of dollars or PAC funding, a bone that leftist can chew on. Now further examine the content of state legislatures. A trifecta is where one party controls both houses and the governorship. There are currently 26 Republican trifectas among the states. That would equal 52 Senators to the Democrats easy 16 Senators from their 8 trifectas. This leaves a contestable 32 Senate seats. An even split of the 32 would give the GOP 68 votes, a supermajority that can withstand a few RINOs. Kavanaugh’s confirmation would be in no danger. The country may in fact curb spending eventually. Obamacare would have been repealed, or never enacted in the first place. The country would experience a massive shift to the right just by returning power to the states. The Democrats would have to shift away from socialism and back to being a “Worker’s Party” just to win votes. Conservatives should champion this issue. And if any good can come out of Jeff Flake, Conservatives should start talking about this movement.