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    Greg and Beth

    the political and personal musings of two
    mountaineers living in west-central Florida
     
    Decline of the Republic Comment
    Gregory Morris, 4/9/08 6:52:56 am
    Tam gives a clear picture of precisely what the seventeenth amendment did to the country.

    I've ranted about this before myself, although not on this blog. So since she started it, I figured I would weigh in on this one.

    Since senators are directly elected, there is little point in having two legislative houses. There are still differences of course, but both houses must cater to the popular and immediate whims of the people. One of the things I do bitch and moan about quite often is knee-jerk reactions from congress. Before the 17th, the senate acted as a buffer for "heat of the moment" legislation (which is why I always say there should be a "cooling off period" for passing new legislation... but that's another rant.) In addition, it was intended that the senate represent the state, and the house was meant to represent the people.

    I would suggest that ratification of the 17th Amendment marked the end of states' rights. Once senators started being directly elected, states became little more than political subdivisions of the nation, rather than sovereign entities. We made the transition from "These United States" to "TheUnitedStatesOfAmerica". We went from a state ruling according to the needs and wishes of her citizens to rules being set at the federal level by louder and larger populations a thousand miles away.

    A lot of people complain about how the federal government can control a state's action via highway funds and the like. A lot of people complain that the federal government is not only too big, but it is growing too fast as well. These are perfect examples of what is happening because of the seventeenth amendment and the subsequent death of state sovereignty.

    Of course, some people equate the "states' rights" mantra with racism, since this was the concept that many states used to defend both slavery and racist laws. However, these are civil rights issues, which are appropriately handled at the federal level. The tenth amendment states: "powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Denial of civil rights is clearly prohibited by the constitution, especially since the 14th amendment was ratified. Thus the claim that states' rights is a cover for racism holds no water.

    The federal government was meant to provide unity in defense, defend the inalienable rights of American citizens, and to ensure interstate commerce was not burdened by quarreling states. That's it. It was not meant to be a means of ensuring that the will of the major population centers be imposed on rural states. However, that is exactly what has happened since power has shifted from the state level to the federal.

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