Do you think our Founding Fathers intended for our Federally elected senators to make lifelong careers in Washington cowtowing to the lobbyist, the senate leadership, and the executive administration, remembering their constituents only at reelection time? Of course not! Our Founding Fathers had a vision for the long term welfare of America, and we citizens have allowed it to get off track.
A balance of power was very critical to our republican form of government, and our Constitution originally allowed for our senators to be elected by their state legislators, not by the voters of each state, which gave a balance of power between the states and the federal governments, and between the legislative and executive branches of the government. The idea of the state legislators choosing the senators would cause the senators to look to the states for their power base, thereby voting in the interest of those who sent them to Washington.
All that came to an end in 1913 when the states ratified the 17th Amendment. Immediately the states lost their balance of power with the federal government, and now 100 years later the U.S. Senate has evolved into a group of elected officials who, for the most part are detached from their states and constituents and beholden to the powers that be within the beltway of Washington.
We as states and as individual citizens have a few options to getting our government back in balance. Whatever option is used, it requires that the citizens have to get educated on this issue so they can put pressure on their state legislators to support legislation will address the balance of power.
I, for one, had no idea about the 17th Amendment until I read Mark Levine's book, The Liberty Amendments, then I immediately could see the problems that the 17th Amendment has caused. To reverse this situation Levine advocates for 2/3rds of our state legislatures to take up the idea of calling for a Convention for Proposing Amendments and propose the repealing of the 17th Amendment. There again this will not happen within the state legislatures until the voters in the states call for it. Since it will take 34 states to propose, and 37 states to ratify the nullification of the 17th Amendment, and with the low voter interest as it is now, the likelihood of this passing is almost nil. This avenue for repealing an amendment has never been done before, although it is allowed by the constitution.
There is more than one way to skin a cat. In the Tennessee General Assembly this past term, State Senator Frank Nicely proposed that the major party (Republican) in the state legislature will nominate their party candidate for the senate race in November, and the minor party (Democrats) will nominate their candidate. There will be no need for a primary, and the winner of the race will be indebted to his state for his senatorship. This bill never made it out of committee, so it is now dead. If the citizens were informed on the matters going on in Nashville, and they put pressure on the committee members, the vote would likely be different.
Voters are you waking up? We hold the power, but only if we put it to use. Freedom isn't free and requires responsibility on our part. If we want our US senators to represent our interest then we have to step out of our comfort zone and let our voices be heard. A good bill that never made it out of committee last year can be brought up again this year with a different outcome. Our choice.
By Penny Keras