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17th Amendment

Repeal the 17th Amendment!

From The National Review:

In our grubby, unhelpful political lexicon, certain words exist solely to end conversations. The most prominent such word is “racist.” Less popular, but by no means less potent, are “democracy” and “rights.” When welded together as “democratic rights,” the pair becomes all-powerful — strong enough to send grown men spinning for the exits and to render eloquent speakers mute.

For a good example of this principle in motion, witness the orthodox reaction to anyone who calls for the repeal of the 17th Amendment. (Direct election of senators, if you’re wondering.) Removing this ugly violation from the Constitution it so corrupts is an idea that has long lingered on the fringe (there’s another of those conversation-terminating words) and, until the massive expansion of federal power that marked the past decade and woke up the sleeping libertarians, it seemed destined to remain there in perpetuity. Even now, to declare in public that you think the whole of 1913 was one long, ghastly mistake is to be looked at as if you have just announced that the United States should consider restoring the British monarchy.

Providing what may be the Platonic ideal of such dismissals, Salon’s Alex Seitz-Wald reacted to the renewed interest by declaring in 2012 that, because any increase of democracy was “unquestionably positive,” any modifications were tantamount to “doing away with rights.” America, “we’re told from a young age, is all about democracy,” Seitz-Wald wrote, “and democracy is all about choosing whom you want to be your representative and holding them accountable.” This, he added, “seems like an entirely uncontroversial idea.” I cannot account for Mr. Seitz-Wald’s grasp of America’s history, beyond saying that if he has indeed been told “from a young age” that America is “all about democracy,” then he must be forgiven for believing it. Still, whatever his schools might have told him, the United States is not in fact a democracy but a constitutional republic, and her virtues lie as much in her undemocratic institutions as in her ample provisions for self-rule — more, perhaps.

Read the rest at The National Review.

Repeal the Seventeenth Amendment

From National Review

Joe Miller, Alaska’s Republican nominee for the United States Senate, recently expressed support for an idea that is rapidly gaining steam in Tea Party circles: the repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment. Miller subsequently backtracked from his statement, but he shouldn’t have: Repealing the Seventeenth Amendment would go a long way toward restoring federalism and frustrating special-interest influence over Washington.Ratified in 1913, the Seventeenth Amendment replaced the election of U.S. senators by state legislators with the current system of direct election by the people. By securing the Seventeenth Amendment’s ratification, progressives dealt a blow to the Framers’ vision of the Constitution from which we have yet to recover. 

The Constitution did not create a direct democracy; it established a constitutional republic. Its goal was to preserve liberty, not to maximize popular sovereignty. To this end, the Framers provided that the power of various political actors would derive from different sources. While House members were to be elected directly by the people, the president would be elected by the Electoral College. The people would have no direct influence on the selection of judges, who would be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate to serve for life or “during good behavior.” And senators would be elected by state legislatures. 

Read the rest at National Review.

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Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty. — Ronald Reagan

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