Bear with me here; I believe this to be the most critical point in American history besides the Civil War and I haven’t seen anyone else address it. Of course, I’m no scholar. I could be wrong, off my meds or just plain freaking wacko, but I seriously doubt it.

The United States began as a Democratic Republic, meaning the citizens grant power to their representatives through democratic elections and the representatives are then the voice of their constituents in the halls of Congress.

But that is an oversimplification. When the Constitution was ratified, the only legislators elected by popular vote were in the House of Representatives.

The Senators were in fact selected and appointed to the federal level from their respective State Legislatures. This was done intentionally so that, hopefully, Senators would be faithful, or beholden to their home State and not the Federal Government. This procedure worked in concert with the Tenth Amendment in protecting the States from federal overreaching meddling and intrusions into State affairs.

The founders saw the mechanics of the Senate/House relationship being rightly contentious in that

Unlike the lower House, where fleeting and often emotionally charged issues could lead to the passage of unconstitutional laws, it is the role of the Senate to slow the process of inquiry and foster longer and more analytical debate on important issues. Source

Sound familiar?

In other words, Senators, with their six-year terms were regarded as the elder statesmen, Constitutional experts and simply wiser and thus less apt to jump on a bandwagon of some shiny, sparkly new scheme. They were, after all, betrothed to their State and not the people per se.

That was then.

In 1913 President Woodrow Wilson and the Congress passed the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution which made the election of Senators by popular vote resulting in the States losing representation and removing some of the States’ power to defend themselves against Federal usurpation.

That, along with Wilson’s radical new interpretation of the Constitution, set the country on the reckless path we are on today.

Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States...More than anyone, Woodrow Wilson advanced the new Progressive theory of human nature and human institutions and the corresponding Progressive critique of the principles of the American Founding and the Founders’ Constitution. Wilson… [snip] …was the first American national chief executive to openly criticize the U.S. Constitution, once comparing it to “political witchcraft.” So hostile was he to the self evident truths of the Founding that, in a 1911 address, he remarked, “if you want to understand the real Declaration of Independence, do not repeat the preface.” (emphasis added)

The Seventeenth Amendment was one of Wilson’s first acts as President for a reason.

The difference between before and after the 17th Amendment is enormous. The impact it has had cannot be understated. The 17th was a pivotal moment in American history because it is the point where America became less of a Democratic Republic and more of a Democracy; people living in democracies are more easily manipulated. Everybody wants more stuff. If your representative keeps giving you more stuff then why wouldn’t you keep voting for them, right?

Wrong.

What’s good for you may not be good for your state or for the country as a whole. The Senate has ceased being the wise grandfather or patriarch of the family, calmly and rationally advising a hormonal teenager who is looking for guidance and has unfortunately become something entirely different. The Senator of today is like any other Congressman, seeking to grab whatever morsels he can to bring back to the nest to distribute among the hungry chicks.

The moment the 17th Amendment was enacted, we traded our elder statesmen for American Idol. We might as well have combined the House and the Senate and made them one parliament. They are, for all intents and purposes in modern times, just about equal. The 17th Amendment weakened the State and in doing so it moved the Federal government closer to the people. Need I say this is not good?

I suppose by now you could guess that the 17th Amendment would be on my “repeal” list. And you would be correct.

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.- Unknown

Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage. Author unknown. Attributed to Benjamin Disraeli. Unverified.

Beware the gifts of a compassionate government, lest it engulf you in a fog of deceit, for one day the fog will lift and you will find that all that you have been given has morphed into chains of slavery and you are now the provider for someone else who is no more deserving than you once were.

For my list of the 20 most damaging events in the history of the Constitution see the History of Constitutional Decline.

******************************

Health Care Update!
Don’t forget to fax Congress and oppose Obamacare this week. Free faxes can be sent from here.

You can donate 20 dollars and fax 30+ Congress-critters here.

Thanks Russ!

Original comments:

7 comments:

theCL March 15, 2010 2:56 PM
Repeal the 17th!

(and 16th, and the Federal Reserve Act)

Longhaired Conservative March 15, 2010 3:00 PM
Hi CL, Thought you might like that one. I’ll second yours if you second mine. lol

smitty1e March 15, 2010 6:50 PM
I contend that it’s the combination of 16 & 17 + the Federal Reserve Act that altered course for Constitutional crisis within the century.

Longhaired Conservative March 16, 2010 9:24 AM
I agree with both of you. These are at least three items that should be on a platform and agenda for change. I know Ron Paul is for the flat tax and for abolishing the fed. I’m not sure if he has an opinion on the 17th. I bet he would favor repeal. It might be a hard sell to the population though, It’s a difficult concept for some people.

Thanks for chiming in Smitty!

smitty1e March 16, 2010 7:12 PM
The concept is that the Constitution and the first 15 Amendments make a lot of sense.
16 & 17 empower DC far too much. Look at the report of the richest counties in the US, or the incumbency rate, or the civil service size/pay rate, or Venezuela, towards which we drift. Nothing esoteric there.
Longhaired Conservative March 16, 2010 7:33 PM
Amen Smitty. You’ve got my vote. I’m only pointing out that if a congress were to try to repeal the 17th (as a for instance, probably the hardest for this reason) it would be easy for the opposition to say that you are taking away the public’s right to chose their Senator. Which is, I would imagine, similar to how it was sold in the first place. I only point out these things now in order to find a way to begin the constitutional education that a majority of America needs in order to come to this conclusion. Maybe another solution is viable, but I tend to go with the Founders.

smitty1e March 16, 2010 7:40 PM
I think that the sales pitch was that state-selected Senators were corrupt.
Well, we sure solved that problem, by upgrading it to one where the 50 states are vassals of the “screw pluribus: unum” Federal government. So the rebuttal is that the Big House/Little House approach to Congress has been a disaster, and returning to a House/Senate model, where States do have a voice, is worth doing.

[Originally posted here March 15 2010]

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