Democracy Not Possible; The Constitution Amended

Specter Haunted

Nobody ever trusts a turncoat. Why do people never remember that? The minute you turn your face against your brothers, you are finished. Your former enemies will embrace you warmly in public, but in private they plan your demise.

Democracy Not Possible

There can never, not ever, exist a true one-person, one-vote Democracy. Unless one is on a desert isle with six other mentally capable adult castaways, there will always be children, infants, the insane, the comatose, the demented, the despicable, and so forth, none of whom can vote.

The point of mentioning this trivial truth is that we always—always—must draw arbitrary lines of suffrage. Because these lines grow so familiar that they are no longer seen cannot be an excuse to ban revisiting their justification.

And so, repeal the 17th! That amendment was adopted in 1913 (a year of insanity); it provided for the election of the Senate by the citizenry, removing this privilege from the State Legislatures. Not only did this switch increase the Government Pandering Index by 328%, but it directed a fire-hose of money at senatorial candidates.

We now have the case where senators spends a substantial—a majority?—of their time raising funds and otherwise shoring up their chances for reelection.

And how about this idea? Because senators must totter from one teat to another, they become more receptive to the pigs who feed them. This, in turn, leads to an increase in the size of government (and corporate power) as the senators battle each other for influence and favor from monies interests.

Speaking Of Amendments

Here’s a picture of when amendments to our constitution happened:

Amendments to Constitution

In one sense, the first ten don’t really count as amendments, because they were part of the deal of adoption. But, there they are.

There was some early tinkering, but on what we nowadays would consider technicalities. The 11th said that states could only be sued in state courts. The 12th added mumbo-jumbo about separately listing presidential and vice-presidential candidates on ballots.

Peace and quiet ruled for some three score years, until 1861, when there was no amendment, of course, but the event that led to the 13th began. The 13th itself was patched with the 14th and 15th three and five years later.

And once more there was satisfaction.

Until greed finally made its appearance. Both the income tax and direct voting for senators were adopted in the same year; a shocking coincidence.

Drunk with power, and now subject fully to the idiotic whims of full democracy, in 1919 the government acquiesced to the 18th amendment, which was launched with a bottle of seltzer. This was followed closely one year later by the 19th, an addition which eventually gifted us Nancy Pelosi.

Kidding! Just kidding, folks.

After the country was sufficiently mobbed up, a state of affairs the direct result of needless meddling, and now a happenstance entirely forgotten (not the crime, but the fact that the government caused it), the 18th was repealed with the 21st. Not the 20th, which was mere bookkeeping, a device to pretend that the government could engage in sober deliberation; a distraction which was sorely needed after twenty-plus years of lunacy.

In 1951 came the 22nd, the Anti-Roosevelt amendment, which the government didn’t have the guts to introduce until long after that man’s death.

After ten years of quiet, came a series of tinkering, appearing so regularly it would not have been wrong to conclude that new amendments would forever follow that pattern. These additions, except for the 25th, expanded suffrage. The 25th added more club rules, now necessary considering the lack of civility and sobriety at our highest levels.

The last—so far, of course—was the 27th in 1992, the result of pandering as pure as you will ever see. It says that Congress can’t give themselves pay increases until after their next elections. This amendment was made knowing that incumbents were almost guaranteed reelection.

Nobody even remembers it. That it was ever made is an embarrassment.

When Will The Next Amendment Appear?

Looking just at the numbers, one would guess soon. Within the next decade.

What will it be? Let’s hope it’s not the “equal” “rights” amendment (“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”).

Will the theme be suffrage? That forms the basis of most amendments. Will those that say the constitution is a “living” document seek to award voting rights to aliens?

Or will the Tea Party introduce a balanced budget, or strict term limits for Congress?

33 Comments

  1. Its hard to take you seriously when you make glaring factual errors.

    1. “And so, repeal the 17th! That amendment was adopted in 1913 (a year of insanity); it provided for the election of the Senate by the citizenry, removing this privilege from the House.”

    WRONG! Prior to the ratification of the 17th, it was State Legislatures, not the US House, which elected Senators.

    2. “After the country was sufficiently mobbed up, a state of affairs the direct result of needless meddling, and now a happenstance entirely forgotten (not the crime, but the fact that the government caused it), the 19th was repealed with the 21st.”

    WRONG! The 19th Amendment has never been repealed–women still have the right to vote.

    I’m inclined to think you aren’t that smart, since your proofreading and your fact-checking leave quite a bit to be desired.

  2. “Originally a member of the Democratic Party, [Ronald Reagan] switched to the Republican Party in 1962.”
    Wikipedia

  3. Sharif, chill a bit. So Matt missed it by one. His narrative was true even though his facts were false. In some circles that’s all that’s necessary. He now qualifies to be on CBS news. Good catches, btw.

  4. Speed, yeah but Reagan wasn’t elected to partisan public office at the time. That happened several years later. Big difference.

  5. @49erDweet:

    Sorry, pal, a fellow with Mr. Brigg’s hot-shot resume shouldn’t have terrible reading comprehension and even worse writing skills, especially since he claims untrue things with the smug certitude of an uninformed television presenter.

    As for his thoughts on the repeal of the 17th, I’d love to know how conservatives plan on preventing states from electing senators however they wish. If you know your American history, you know that Oregon, Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado provided for direct election of senators well before the 17th was ratified. Will conservatives take away that right from the states?

  6. Sharif of DelMonte,

    THANKS! for reminding me of my errors and typos: number one was error based on laziness coupled with hazy memory, number two typos based on too quickly reading Latin numbers.

    You are correct to suggest, though, that typos might someday be my downfall. Unlike other published authors, I lack an editor, which I obviously need. Interested in the job? It pays as much as it costs you to read this.

    Just saw your second comment: correct, some states made the error of direct election before all were made to. This is not a point in its favor. Technically—anticipating the objection—this means amending the amendment, and not repealing it.

    Addendum: I blushed when I read “hot-shot resume”. You sweet talker, you.

  7. @Briggs,

    As someone who has a fancy-shmancy education in history (Boston U, 1995) it pains me to see this generation of Patriots(TM) casually toss around “facts” regarding the founders and the documents they laboured to create. It doubly embarrassing to see someone do it on the same website advertising professional services: I’m not sure I’d want to hire a statistician who makes menial clerical errors.

    Let’s take a look at Article 1, section 3, prior to ammending:

    “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, chosen by the legislature thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.”

    and then A1, Section4:

    “The times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing Senators.”

    There is nothing in that language preventing states from holding popular elections for senators and then approving the winners in the state legislature.

    Kudos to you for correcting the post, but my point stands: if you are just casually tossing out “facts” which are easily disproved, it renders suspect the rest of your judgments.

    There is a book called “Constitutional Fate” (Phillip Bobbit, 1982) in which legal approaches to the Constitution and its amendments are discussed:

    * 1) textual argument — appeals to the unadorned language of the text

    * 2) historical argument — appeals to the historical background of the vision being considered, whether the history considered be general, such as background but clearly crucial events (such as the American Revolution). or specific appeals to the so-called intentions of framers

    * 3) structural argument — analyses inferred from the particular structures established by the Constitution, including the tripartite division of the national government; the separate existence of both state and nation as political entities; and the structured role of citizens within the political order.

    * 4) doctrinal argument — emphasis on the implications of prior cases decided by the Supreme Court.

    * 5) prudential argument — emphasis on the consequences of adopting a proferred decision in any given case.

    * 6) ethical argument — reliance on the overall “ethos” of limited government as centrally constituting American political culture.

    I understand that different lawyers and scholars will interpret these arguments according to their legal theory, but every single serious legal mind in America, including so-called “strict” judges like Justices Scalia and Thomas agree that these are the bedrocks of our constitutional law. Its not controversial.

    With all that said, even if the 17th were repealed, I don’t see any language which would legally prevent states from holding popular elections for the Senate, particularly since state AGs could cite both Article 1, Section 4 and the 10th ammendment to tell Congress to butt-out of statewide elections.

  8. Excuse me, but what schools have you attended? Make a list then go back and demand a refund because they committed fraud when they taught you any thing related to either civics or history.

    The United States of America has never been a democracy!

    Our highly educated founding fathers knew that a democracy is an extremely dangerous form of government; even for a weakened central governement that they designed.

    We are a representative republic for that reason.

    A democracy is subject to what ever the current buzz running uncontrolled through the media. Remember that buzz can be real or manufactured for political gain (see the headlines for the last six-nine months – never waist a crises). Worse, it can be the most restrictive form of government possible.

    A final thought – during the 20th century almost every person killed in Europe and Asia when there was an active inter-state war going on were legally killed by theirown governments! If this isn’t an argument for returning to our founding father’s designs I don’t what is.

  9. 49erDweet:

    The Reagan lesson more instructive than that.

    1. If a person has for decades been claiming that he is (for example) a Republican and supports Republican principles, and then one day says he is (for example) a Democrat and supports Democratic principles he raises a question of trust. It is reasonable for all to ask, “Can I believe what this man says? Should I vote for a candidate that I don’t trust?”

    2. If you have a set of supporters which agrees with your affiliations, policies and principles and you subsequently change those affiliations, policies and principles then you must find and attract a new set of supporters. And the intersection of the new and old sets may be small.

    Reagan finessed both when he said, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The party left me.”

  10. Sharif,

    Right: I anticipated (as I said before) your argument, and said that the amendment needed to be amended, not just repealed.

    You’ll know better than I, but was it Madison who suggested that the House elect the senators? Maybe that’s not ideal, and maybe election by State legislature is. But direct election by the citizenry is far less to be desired that either of those two options. I have given a reason why I believe this to be so. Have you one to offer, beyond the tautology that direct election is a “right”, that direct election is superior to these other methods?

    I’m with you on the bedrock bit: which is why I claimed the prohibition and the paycheck amendments were asinine. As was, I think, the 18-can-vote trick, designed to assuage the crowds. My main point is that the number of amendments appears to be increasing—the bedrock is being added to with stones unceremoniously being shoved into the foundation.

    Finally, I have admitted my error, thanked you for the correction, and moved back to the point at hand. But if you keep teasing me about it, I’ll have to ask why you only got into Boston U and not that other place.

  11. Speed, I think if you’ll look around a whole bunch of Republicans were probably once Democrats. Like Reagan, the party moved away from them and they apparently felt more comfortable elsewhere. I’m sure you’re not saying one can only belong to one party – and that it must be for life.

    In Reagan’s case his earlier “supporters” were mostly the Hollywood elite and quite frankly I’ve seen precious few of that lot whose rationales for their political philosophies went much deeper than the make-up base of their next roles.

    To get back to Specter, in my view in mid-term he should have resigned his office and run as a Democrat in the special election [to replace him] if that’s what he wanted. But his record for years had been that of a RINO, so the move was no big surprise. “Opportunistic” comes more to mind.

    Sharif, following this site is a “process”, dude, something one grows into – or out of. Life is serious. Work is serious. Family stuff is serious. William M. Briggs is usually not that serious. Get a life, man. Without our daily fix of “Matt” some of us would go off the deep end, so move on away if your shorts are in a bunch and take pity on the rest of us.

  12. Speed,

    You make a valid point, but there are limits to it. There is no room in your argument for growth and learning. Where would the Gospels be without Saul switching parties?

    Specter obviously did not change parties because he had a sudden insight that Republican principles were repugnant, but because he didn’t want to lose his job, prestige, and the trappings of office. This makes him a raw, and bumbling, opportunist. He may now repent at leisure.

  13. Sharif from DelMonte

    let’s make amends,
    How many M’s are there in amend?
    If there’s only one to mend
    then there’s only one amendment.

  14. By 1900, the progressives (in the 18th century sense of progressive) thought that senators were to cozy with “the establishment” / special interests / big business / whatever you would like to call it. Direct election was supposed to reduce corruption in the Senate.

    While Sharif is right, the legislature could have chosen to give the power to the people to elect Senators. Prior to 1900 none did.

    49er — I think if you’ll look around a whole bunch of Republicans were probably once Democrats.

    It seems to me that somewhere Republican and Democratic parties swapped. A century ago the Democrats were rural, populist, southern, socially conservative, and states-rights. Republicans were urban, elitist, wealthy and pro-central government.

  15. Briggs and 49erDweet — Lets follow the thread …

    Briggs: Nobody ever trusts a turncoat.

    Me: (paraphrasing) Some would say that Ronald Reagan was a turncoat but lots of people trusted him.

    49erDweet: (paraphrasing) Reagan was not a turncoat (in terms of this discussion) because he turned his coat before entering partisan public office.

    Me: (paraphrasing) It is possible to turn one’s coat but it must be done slowly, deliberately and carefully.

    49erDweet: (paraphrasing) Agrees with me saying that Reagan was not unique and pointing out that Spector was not slow, deliberate or carefull when he changed parties.

    Briggs: (paraphrasing) How about gradual change? (and) Spector was an incompetent idiot who had no respect for his supporters.

    Me: One logical conclusion of my 9:02AM post is that gradual change is OK but requires work and care to bring current supporters along as well as recruit new ones to replace the those you lose.

  16. I agree…repeal the 17th, put some teeth in the 10th, and, while we’re at it, insist on term limits (yeah, I know…like that’s going to happen).

  17. … and as long as we’ve got the red pen out, can someone please straighten out the wording of the 2nd. I swear it was someone’s idea of a practical joke – “Hey, let’s really screw up the grammar, and see how in 200 years nobody can figure out what we meant.”

  18. “Gifted”? I think you mean “Gave”. It’s a perfectly good word that already exists.

  19. Parabellum,

    That battle is over, and lost. However, I can tell you that I am still working to eradicate “issue” as a synonym for “problem.”

  20. Sharif DelMonte wrote:

    “Sorry, pal, a fellow with Mr. Brigg’s hot-shot resume shouldn’t have terrible reading comprehension and even worse writing skills, especially since he claims untrue things with the smug certitude of an uninformed television presenter.”

    It’s “résumé”, not “resume”.

    “It doubly embarrassing to see someone do it on the same website advertising professional services: I’m not sure I’d want to hire a statistician who makes menial clerical errors.”

    The verb “is” is missing between “It” and “doubly”.

    I’m damned sure I’d not hire someone who exhibits the faults he criticises in others.

  21. 49erDweet wrote:
    19 May 2010 at 4:28 pm

    “Any word with at least 32 definition variables has got to be a tad schizophrenic, but gee – that’s one of my favorites because it’s so short.”

    “Issue” runs to 8 columns in the Oxford English Dictionary 2nd Ed which might imply that it’s somewhat overused. The Git has observed that the frequency of its use increases markedly in the spring and imagines that, were he so inclined, he could obtain funding to look at the relationship between the use of “issue” and Global Warming.

    Perhaps Briggs has an issue with “issue” because he is allergic to the word. Briggs?

  22. The Constitution does need some amending and repealing of amendments and the 17th is a prime example, as is the 16th. A new amendment regarding federalism is in order and/or at the same time defining the interstate commerce clause, as a veto of state law would be of great benefit.

    For revenue I would prefer the federal government be limited to no more than 19% of GDP and revenue needs once voted on by Congress and singed by the President would be paid pro rata by the states. Yes, Virginia there would be no IRS, only the state equivalent. And states with good tax mechanisms would thrive while the others would not. No more one size fits all federal government.

    With the Senators representing the states and Representatives representing the people of their districts and the President representing the people of the nation, there would be tension again between the states and the federal government about which should provide the various services. This would result in a more logical reapportionment of power between the entities. Why after all does the federal government take money from the citizens of a state only to return that money to the state for welfare transfer payments? Of course the federal government takes 35% off the top as its share and the state takes another 15% or so leaving about 50% of the amount taxed as the actual transfer payment. Lower our federal government costs and get 35% more money to spend for the same amount of taxation? Cool! The again we could just cut taxes 35%.

    Then again if wishes were horses beggars would ride!

  23. I used to have a problem with ‘issue’. I took my pet peeve to the pound (0.45kg), and she doesn’t bother me any more.

    I will never complain about bad spelling or grammar. Both lazy and dyslexic, my typing is atrocious.

  24. We really need to get back to citizen legislators. If we’re suggesting amendments, et al, I’d sure like to see the 17th amended to allow states to go back to choosing their own method of filling the office, with the proviso that regardless of the method they can always remove an incumbent with 2/3rds vote of their legislature. I’d prefer senators be non-partisan, too, but that would never fly

    Further, I’d like to deal with establishing term limits of no more than three in a lifetime for Congress-critters. Also in that category I’d like a law that would bar an aide or staff member of same who’d served more than four years from being elected or appointed to such a job.

    Last but not least I’d like the 22nd amendment amended to change the voting age to 25 and establish that voters must show a secure drivers license or ID in order to vote.

    Oh, is it time to wake up yet or are we still in Kansas?

  25. @Briggs:

    Firstly, I’d like to commend you on your grace and sense of humour–I get trolled and flamed on the Internet regularly enough to think I know the difference between constructive (albeit sharp) criticism and someone just coming in and name-calling and casting off-topic aspersions.

    On to substance!

    “but was it Madison who suggested that the House elect the senators?”

    Yes: what eventually became the “Virginia Plan” included several possibilities for elections of Senators, including one in which candidates were nominated by state legislatures, then elected by the House. This plan was not agreed to, and “Sherman’s Compromise” was introduced by the delegation from Connecticut. This plan, by and large, is what was accepted into the final draft of the Constitution. Its worth noting that Madison was very much against this scheme, as he found it distasteful for small states to wield such great veto power over the large states (he was a Virginian, after all). For further insight into President Madison’s thoughts on the formation of the Senate, see Federalist paper #62.

    “Have you one to offer, beyond the tautology that direct election is a “right”, that direct election is superior to these other methods?”

    I offer you the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment, Colegrove v. Green, Reynolds v. Sims, Westbury v. Sanders, Carrington vs. Rash, and Harper v. Virginia board of Elections. All of these adhere to the same principal of “one man, one vote”, and to boot, firmly establish that the federal government can enforce the constitution in every state. Are you familiar with Supreme Court Justice John Marshal Harlan II? I have a feeling you’d like him…

    As for me, I happen to agree with the state legislatures who agreed to change to popular senatorial elections because I prefer the vulgarity of democracy over the whims of an oligarchy: having responsible local politicans choose statesmen back in the olden times when the population was largely illiterate or unable to hear about “current” events made alot of sense, but I fear that in today’s corporate politics, the “Senators” elected by every state legislature would be unknown, unvetted partisan mercenaries. The United States is a constitutional republic, and since its constitution heartily endorses democracy, I endorse it as well.

    “My main point is that the number of amendments appears to be increasing—the bedrock is being added to with stones unceremoniously being shoved into the foundation.”

    I agree with that math–every single new amendment increases the number by 1. I disagree with your complaint: Over the last 60 years, there have been 6 new amendments, one per decade. Compared to 11 in prior 150 years, that’s not a huge difference in ratio: .1 to .073 per anum.

    “But if you keep teasing me about it, I’ll have to ask why you only got into Boston U and not that other place.”

    What makes you think I was only accepted into one university? By “that other place”, I’ll assume you meant M.I.T., especially because as a hockey aficionado, it is very difficult for me to mention the names of most other local schools without spewing invective and constitutionally-protected yet (anatomically impossible) speech.

    @Pompous Git:

    “I’m damned sure I’d not hire someone who exhibits the faults he criticises in others.”

    Geez, Briggs took it like a man. Thanks for taking time out to correct my spelling, though. You lose 10 points for not diagramming my sentences. Sigh, its getting harder to find good Internet Hall Monitors(TM) these days.

    speaking of which…

    @49erDweet

    “Get a life, man. Without our daily fix of “Matt” some of us would go off the deep end, so move on away if your shorts are in a bunch and take pity on the rest of us.”

    I found this site through Free Republic. Are you kidding me? This article is reposted somewhere at one of the Internet’s most vituperative forums. I fear you may get your feelings badly hurt if you read this article there.

    Look, we’ve got a guy who is brave enough to blog under his real name and say what he believes. I found his article which contained some interesting ideas but glaring errors and I popped in to say hi. I understand that certain web communities are more insular and polite than others are, and that “decorum” is a definition that changes from blog to blog. Nonetheless, you wouldn’t bring a stuffed giraffe to a gunfight, and you probably shouldn’t bring your feelings to a political blog. The author took his lumps magnificently, and stayed on-topic. It definitely raises the maturity level in a room when the moderator keeps his temper better than his inmates, er, commenters.

  26. I want the U.S. congress to admit JH Estate as the 51st State of American. That is, JH and Mr. JH would be the two senators representing the State of JH. ^_^

    Ouch, that hurt, someone just swore at me.

  27. Sharif,

    Well, don’t we (as a country) feel foolish for ignoring Madison.

    I don’t accept your equal-protection-clause, one-man-one-vote argument as a counter because it recognizes no limits.

    We surely both agree that one-man-one-vote is impossible, for the reasons I gave in the post. We limit, as we must, who votes. Another trivial truth: it is impractical to the point of impossibility to have each man vote on every question. Thus, we must constrain who gets to vote on what kinds of questions. Obviously, this is why we have a Congress (of two houses) etc.

    The only questions before us, then, are what constitutes suffrage and of what limits, what hierarchy, we need. Most of us are happy with the limits: perhaps the age limit it set too low, few complain that convicted felons loose their privilege, most no longer argue that some form of rationality should be demonstrated (like owning property), and so forth. I’m instead wondering how satisfied we are with the hierarchy.

    Allowing for the direct vote of senators has given rise to new, and creative forms of pandering. I say this negatively affects the Senate’s ability to form a quiet, deliberative body. The Senate is too easily swayed by populism. Take, for example, senators’ idiotic practice of speaking before an empty chamber just so the CSPAN cameras can capture them, only to later submit, for the written record, a document at wide variance to their spoken words. This happens because they must put themselves before the public for approval.

    The Senate is too concerned with current matters; they do not consider the future sufficiently. I claim that their bizarre marriage with the public is what led to Obamacare, the cost of which will be astronomical. You don’t have to agree about Obamacare, because my argument remains.

    Here’s another reason: there are too many people for a Senator to consider. House members are apportioned by population, and it is they who must listen to their constituents. When matters become of general importance, to a State or to the Republic as a whole, then they should be brought by the House to the Senate. I envision something like a House of Lords, although with more muscle and non-hereditary.

    Well, there are more, but that’s the drift. What do you have that counters those?

  28. “Well, don’t we (as a country) feel foolish for ignoring Madison. ”

    I think we as a country took enough of President Madison’s good advice and let some other fellas make some decent points, too. He’s a pretty good writer, but he let Canadians burn down the White House!

    “Another trivial truth: it is impractical to the point of impossibility to have each man vote on every question.”

    Have you ever been to a New England town meeting? You haven’t seen democracy until you’ve witnessed friends of 40 years get into a screaming match over the mil rate. Small towns have vibrant democratic structures for governance. Heck, when (i mean if) you see a pothole getting fixed, you’d better believe that some county/municipal board voted 6-3 to fix it already (or not.) Americans value democracy so dearly, I’d argue that each man does have a say on nearly every question, so long as he’s willing to participate.

    “I don’t accept your equal-protection-clause, one-man-one-vote argument as a counter because it recognizes no limits.”

    How so? My SCOTUS citations explicitly enshrine that concept into accepted law. In a world where the 17th is democratically repealed, all of the case law relying on the 14th would still be valid. Further, a “post-17th repeal world” would not prevent the right of states to choose their senators how they wish. In states where the legislatures voted on the senatorial candidates, they would be proportionally representing their constituents, leaving one-man-one-vote legally unmolested.

    “Allowing for the direct vote of senators has given rise to new, and creative forms of pandering. I say this negatively affects the Senate’s ability to form a quiet, deliberative body.”

    I question that its been a quiet, deliberative body since the advent of the Mexican-American war. The Mexican war was the first “big media” war in America’s history: the telegraph had been invented, and reporters could cable stories to the printers back home: to make a poor analogy, the Mexican War’s media blitz can be compared to the 1991 Gulf War: a media sensation that seems quaint and obsolete by the time the next conflict started, but was revolutionary and groundbreaking at the time. Newspapers featuring war stories were very popular, as were newspapers featuring anti-war stories. That’s right–even back before the civil war, freedom of the press was so valued that it was acceptable to be “against” a war that Congress actually declared. None of the editors were tried for sedition or anything! But back on topic, this new media blitz is when sitting senators and congressmen appeared not in person, but in the august pages of print. It was then when politicians adapted from the actual yeoman’s work of governing to the carefully crafted charade. Senators were free to use the media to shape public opinion without having to answer to it. There’s alot more nuance to the history of the Senate between the Mexican war and the ratification of the 17th, but I’m of the opinion the Senate was far less a deliberative body and far more a vehicle for personal prestige and funneling federal money to the home state long before popular election.

    “The Senate is too easily swayed by populism.”

    I disagree: I think the Senate is too beholden to provincialism and parochialism.

    “I claim that their bizarre marriage with the public is what led to _______”

    You could say this about any number of House resolutions which appear before it, and there isn’t really a debate that Senators adore the limelight. I do still disagree that there is any sort of marriage with “the public”, only court-supervised arbitration every six years.

    “there are too many people for a Senator to consider.”

    Hogwash–any qualified senator is well-connected to his or her state’s capital power players, and many, many other important people statewide. There is not a single sitting senator who doesn’t have an extensive past and a huge donor base in their constituent state, and as such, can be at least expected to understand how votes affect their states and cronies–see my earlier comment about being beholden to provincialism. Its the House’s job to be the intimately connected proportionally–we’re back to Wesbury v. Sanders again. That the senate long ago abrogated its responsibility as the arbiter of reason and deliberation is not a good reason to regress it further into an extension of partisan machinery.

    That leads back to what I was saying–if senators are only responsible to their chums back from the old state capitol, there will be even less accountability and more corruption, not the other way round. Vulgar democracy is better than dignified oligarchy. Living example: Senator Scott Brown. Would you rather the Massachusetts legislature had sent a pawn from the Menino machine (no way it would have been Coakley) to Washington to due Boston’s bidding at the expense of the will of the electorate? Senator Brown’s political story is too early to be fully written, but its safe to say that the 17th is directly responsible for his election, and many, many others before him.

    edit: I may or may not have sent this twice. If so, apologies for the dupe post.

  29. Good mlorning, Mr. Briggs,

    I like your argument for going back to letting the state leg elect the senate. I think you hit it right on the head with Specter. They say there are two kinds of pols in Washington, Republicans who don’t like Specter and Democrats who don’t like Specter.

  30. “Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot that you do singe yourself.”
    That’s what you did. I’m not surprised you don’t think it’s funny! as you are not a gentleman.

  31. Sharif,

    You’ve given some neat examples of how corruption and pandering would be just as endemic if (and when) state legislatures appoint/elect senators. (I’m with you on the Mexican war reporting, incidentally.)

    I do not argue that citizens should not have the right to involve themselves in politics, but most won’t and most don’t. Further, most can’t, especially when the questions are far removed from daily existence. I don’t know the percentage of adult New Englanders who attend town meetings, but I’d guess it’s far less than 50%. I am happy with our current meritocracy of voluntary involvement, which, at the highest levels, becomes a sort of aristocracy (I wouldn’t say oligarchy).

    What I’m arguing for is a senior deliberative body that is less concerned with matters of the moment, a body less susceptible to the prevailing winds. It could be that direct election or state legislation appointments can’t give that. I had in mind the House (not the states) as a whole voting for the Senate, choosing as candidates from only among themselves.

    Maybe I am imaging a House of Lords, where senators no longer swear allegiance to their states, but to the Federation. But then, look out!

    Actually, you have convinced me that I don’t have a satisfactory answer.

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