When our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution and gave us a bicameral legislature, they did so with an understanding that both The People and The States needed to be represented at the federal level. The people directly voted for their own representative to the more numerous chamber, and then voted for legislators at the State level, who in turn elected Senators to act directly as to what each individual state needed.
During the Progressive Era, do good liberals decided this was counter to the best interests of the people, and thus decided to have direct election of each U.S. Senator instead of having two Senators elected by the each of the United States. There were several reasons the 17th Amendment was passed. One of the principal reasons was because in some western states the legislators could not easily decide whom to send to the Senate, resulting in certain states not being fully represented in the Senate.
Progressives at the time wanted the 17th Amendment because it strengthened the federal government at the expense of states’ rights. Also called at the time “strengthening the link between the federal government and its citizens.” However, there is a flaw in this logic. We do not and should not want the people being too close to our federal government. To the contrary we should be devolving power from the federal government back to the states.
Senator Susan Collins represents Maine. Whether I like her politics or not, the fact is that she probably represents the State of Maine quite well. Maine is a moderate to liberal state which prefers more government interference in our lives. However there is no way that Arizona and Alaska residents would support such meddling by the federal government in their health care. Quite frankly, John McCain and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) are no longer representative of their home states. To the contrary, if you were to look at their campaign finance filing forms, there’s a good chance you’ll see they’ve both taken a lot of money from the insurance lobby. And the insurance lobby would benefit the most from a bailout of Obamacare by the federal government.
McCain and Murkowski may be the latest to go against the wishes of their own state, but they’re not the only ones. Look at Lindsay Graham of South Carolina. Just last week, he said, “The key here is to be fair to the 11 million illegal immigrants starting with the Dreamers…To the people who object to this, I don’t want you to vote for me because I cannot serve you well.” Does anyone really think that the average South Carolina voter supports amnesty for 11 million illegals?
For the record, Graham has a 45% approval rating in his state. But he knows that the opposition to him will be fractured in any primary, and thus he keeps getting re-nominated each 6 years, and thus keeps getting re-elected. He may not be popular with South Carolinians, but is popular with those who profit off of illegal immigration, aka the United States Chamber of Commerce. Note in this poll that his counterpart, Tim Scott, has a much higher approval rating. The list goes on and on.
Having a United States Senator selected by our 60+ Republican House of Delegate members and our 21 Senators in Virginia would be preferable to having big money select Mark Warner or Tim Kaine. Does anyone really think that after voting for Obamacare Mark Warner would have been re-appointed by Dave LaRock or Ben Cline or Todd Gilbert? Of course not! Senators would have to do the bidding of the people of Virginia and the legislature – not what Big Pharma or Big Corn or Big whatever you call it wants.
The Progressives thought that letting people vote directly for their own Senators would bring the Senator and the people closer together. To the contrary, direct voting of the U.S. Senators has pushed them farther apart. It’s time to get rid of the 17th Amendment once and for all.