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Repeal the 17th Amendment Yesterday

Published: February 25, 2024 | Print Friendly and PDF
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Brownstone Institute - Repeal the 17th Amendment Yesterday

These “united states” were supposed to be federalist with the states as prime movers, united under a small and weak federal government limited, by design, to its specifically enumerated powers.

Remember this? (Because the federal government doesn’t.)

Consider how different that nation might be. A small central government, mostly facing outwardly and focused on a few matters like the common defense, borders, etc and then the 50 states, each as a sort of lab experimenting with ideas around trade and regulation and services and taxes between which each and every American would be free to choose. Simply vote with your feet and move. 

States could become different in a manner that they cannot beneath such pervasive federal yoke as pervades in our current form of governance. They could cater to different folks, different businesses, different ideals. They would vary FAR more than they do today where so many regulations, taxes, and strictures are federal and where federal funding has come to dominate so much state activity.

They would need to compete for you.

States would need to provide value for money on taxation lest their people leave. 

States’ inability to run deficits and a need to balance budgets without printing money would impose far greater discipline. 

And “consumer choice” would thrive and competition would drive competence and those who were unable to compete would fail and need to change tack or wind up replaced.

We could probably blast this into the stratosphere by allowing regions to secede from states and found their own or merge with adjacent ones, but this is likely not even necessary to get 90%+ of the benefits of a market.

This federalist system of consensual competitive competence was the design intended for the “United States of” America.

It was broken by one thing and we could, if we wished, likely unbreak it by removing that one thing. 

This thing happened in 1913, just as Wilson and the first round of US fascists (in the classic sense of command and control economy, rights suppression, subjugation to the collective, and “paternalism knows best”) and globalists changed the face of America and the power of the central government forever.

Prior to 1913, US federal debt was minimal. The federal budget was generally less than 2% of GDP.

And then…

This “thing” was the 17th Amendment.

“The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.”

The original words said “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.”

This is a funny one. It’s barely taught in school and to the extent it is, it’s taught as a sort of “liberation” and as “making America a true democracy.” At best, you hear a few stories about “deadlocks” and “not being able to elect a senator because the two houses of a state could not agree.”

So they changed the fundamental nature and function of the US government in a truly radical way that few seem to understand (or even remember).

“Let’s let the people directly elect their Senators instead of having the state legislatures do it” sounds like empowerment. But it’s not. It’s subjugation.

Democracy is unaccountable tyranny of the majority. It’s coercion. It’s two wolves and a sheep voting about what’s for dinner. It was not what our Framers intended. It was, quite literally, the diametric opposite of the Framers’ intention and their genius.

The effect upon the population dynamic of electoral politics was profound. Post-1913, the big cities would always elect the Senate rather than state legislatures that also contained rural representation doing so. Candidates needed only to appeal to big city voting blocs whose populations and interests diverged from and came to dominate those of rural areas. 

A state with 40% rural voters and 60% urban would once have elected senators appealing to both constituencies. Now it’s winner-take-all for urban areas in basically every election. The rural voters who hold so much more sway in state elections have been effectively disenfranchised in the federal legislature.

This is why so many Northeastern states that are mostly red in territory but blue in a big city or two consistently generate two blue DC Senators. This is the antithesis of the Founders’ intent. This one small change to their carefully designed system of checks and balances unbalanced federal power for good and all. 

The intended role of the Senate in the US federalist republic was not to stand for the people, it was to stand for the states.

The House was intended to stand for the people and was thus elected by the people. 

The role of the Senate was to protect the states, their governments, and their prerogatives from the federal government.

That’s why the fascist/globalist centralizers of power wanted it ripped out. 

“Preventing deadlocks” was a thin gruel of pretext for what amounted to the greatest power grab in American history. This is what set up Wilson who, in turn, set up FDR who so egregiously altered the character of federal intrusiveness in America for all time. And seriously, so what if a couple senators fail to seat? Good. 

Who cares? Where’s the tragedy?

Much of this came down to huge oversteps of the enumerated powers to which the federal government was supposed to be limited being rubber-stamped by the Supreme Court which was supposed to be calling out Constitutional foot faults on this and striking down federal agencies and overreach.

Instead we got durable doctrinaire judicial deference and absurdist readings of the Preamble and Commerce Clause that enabled regulation, usurpation, and taxation so far outside any plausible enumerated purview that essentially all manner of spending and interference was allowed, enabled, and encouraged. Hell in a bucket indeed…

There is a reason that approval of Supreme Court justices, other federal judges, cabinet members, and suchlike was a power vested in the Senate. It was supposed to be used by representatives of the state legislatures in defense of the state legislatures and to protect them from predation by a grasping center as lecherous Leviathan sought to sink tentacles into that which was meant to be reserved for the states, taking their rightful powers for itself like a central government sinkhole expanding to consume a nation.

Such jurists and cabineteers as appointed by state legislatures in defense of state legislatures would tend to have an altogether different character, one rooted in the primacy of the several states and in which the federal government would be seen as a nuisance and a trespasser, not as a solution or a suzerain. 

Imagine the nation we might have had had this been so.

Imagine what we might have avoided.

Imagine a weak DC and strong states and localities each determining their own domains (and kept from breaching basic rights by a federal government and judiciary which would check them in turn) instead of the unchecked and unbalanced calamity of the post-17th Amendment “democracy.”

Imagine not seeing every federal election for president as some existential threat to the way of life for half the nation or constantly being trapped between only two choices, each awful and with no middle or orthogonal course and no escape.

Imagine the power such a system would devolve to people empowered who vote with their feet and the discipline it would place upon the states to serve these people and to prove value for money. 

Imagine the pressure upon states to move to “user pays” systems for many programs to accurately and granularly gauge the preferences of We the People and the trade-offs between projects so that they might better serve the populace instead of the “one-size-fits-none” of more general taxation and spending.

Imagine citizens as customers instead of society as serfs.

This is what we could have had. This is what we were supposed to have. Honestly, it’s what we probably could have still if we could only muster the political will to repeal the 17th Amendment, turf out the whole of the Senate and the SCOTUS, and restaff them and reinstate 2/3rds cloture.

It’s supposed to be just about impossible to get things through the Senate. That was a core protection for We the People and for the power of the states.

This is a feature, not a bug. The state must serve the people, not the people the state, and it will never do so unless the people have the right to say “No.”

Devolved power and individual movement provide an awful lot more of this. It may not be perfect, but it’s a helluva upgrade on what we have now. 

We are supposed to be the checks and the balances, not just the check-writers for unbalanced federal overreach.

And this is power that we the people must take back for ourselves.



Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
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  • el gato malo

    el gato malo is a pseudonym for an account that has been posting on pandemic policies from the outset. AKA a notorious internet feline with strong views on data and liberty.

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