Just in case you’ve forgotten, U.S. Senators were not always elected by the people. The Constitution allowed the state legislatures to decide how their states’ Senators would be chosen. In the early days after the Constitution was ratified, legislatures often chose the Senators themselves. However, as people began to demand it, many legislatures gave the voters the right to choose their Senators even before the federal Constitution required them to do so. This was changed in 1913, by the 17th Amendment, which provided that Senators would be chosen by the people in the same way the Representatives were.
Well, those good Mormon Republicans in Utah have decided the 17th Amendment was a bad idea, and wait ’til you hear the explanation offered by Senator Al “I hate representative Government” Jackson (R-Idiot). It might be important to note that being “appointed” to representative government has a special place in Al’s life, as he wasn’t elected to his seat, but appointed to fill an unexpired term of someone else.
According to Jackson, no branch of the federal government represents the interests of the states. Funny thing about that though, I thought our government was formed to represent the interests of the citizens, but Al looks at this way, “Today, senators are more beholden to special interest groups than to their states because those interests give them money for reelection. It’s time for our senators to come home every weekend and take direction from this body and from the House and the governor on how they should vote in the upcoming week.”
Now, there’s a certain amount of his logic I can get on-board with. It is true that senators are more beholden to special interest groups. In fact, that about the only folks they feel beholden to, and I’m all for changing that, but I have different idea for Al and the Utah legislature.
If you want to fix the problem you cited, here’s an idea…fix campaign financing, Rather than repealing the 17th, how about a new amendment that declares that money is not speech, corporations are not people, and put reasonable limits on the amount of money politicians can accept and spend on their campaigns. That will take care of your concern even better, Al.
Some folks comment on the article thought it a bit of red herring. I think it’s a trial balloon by ALEC or some Super PAC. State legislatures have been taken over by Republicans using gerrymandering. However, it’s clear many states with Republican controlled legislatures are not majority Republican states, as the Senators are Democratic. So, the Republicans, the Koch’s and ALEC (representing big businesses…usually the dirtier ones) would prefer more Republicans in the Senate, to ensure they get their way. This would be an excellent way to support that model.
Even if they managed a Constitutional change, with Scalia out-of-the-way, and the push-back growing in states with gerrymandered legislatures, we might see the district finally starting to change. We can only hope.