The View From 1776
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Repeal the 17th Amendment
Repealing the 17th Amendment would strengthen the Tenth Amendment, the most important of the Constitution’s original checks and balances.
During the two-year debate before the Constitution was ratified in 1789, the central concern was striking a power balance between the new Federal government and the states. Recognizing that there will always be special-interest conflicts in every political society, the Constitution’s framers structured a government that would, at every point, pit ambition against ambition.
Above all they wished to avoid concentration of too much power in any one part of government. The strongest of all safeguards to that end was retention in the states of all police powers, defined by the Britannica Concise Encylopedia as, “Power of a government to exercise reasonable control over people and property within its jurisdiction in the interest of general security, health, safety, morals, and welfare.”
States arrayed over a vast geographic area would naturally have widely differing economic and cultural interests. The Constitution, supplemented by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, aimed to protect local and state interests against the tyranny of the majority.
Passage of the 17th Amendment in 1913, making United States Senators elected by popular vote rather than by state legislatures, opened the gates to unprecedented socialist collectivism of Federal power under Democrat/Socialist Party President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s. Senators, no longer representing specifically the interests of their states, became vulnerable to pressures from the President, Congressional party leaders, and the vast sums of money deployed by special interest groups such as labor unions.
We see the effect today in President Obama’s apparent intentions to ram socialized, National-State control of the entire healthcare sector down the people’s throats, without regard to their revulsion. Because of Franklin Roosevelt’s collectivization of power, ever increasing swaths of our private lives are coming under the control of Washington bureaucrats, everything from the kinds of light bulbs to the kinds of automobiles we will be permitted to purchase.
Read Tony Blankley’s exposition of the issue.
Columnist Bruce Bartlett, who regularly cudgels the presidency of George W. Bush and the economic policies of President Reagan, wrote the following in his column dated May 12, 2004.
The 17th amendment was ratified in 1913. It is no coincidence that the sharp rise in the size and power of the federal government starts in this year (the 16th amendment, establishing a federal income tax, ratified the same year, was also important).