Category Archives: Mount Vernon

How the 17th Amendment stole power from you and gave it to big money interests

By Chuck Norton

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 electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures. – 17th Amendment to the US Constitution

One might think off the cuff, what is so bad about that? You mean we didn’t used to directly elect our own Senators?

Before the 17th Amendment Senators served at the pleasure of your state legislators and could be recalled at any time should the Senator work against the interests of your state. So how did changing that take power from you?

What they didn’t tell you is that the way the political parties have structured themselves in the Congress, the direct election of Senators made political party leadership virtually all powerful.

In the Senate today the Majority Leader, Harry Reid holds that position, is near all powerful. He can hold up any and all legislation, he can stop the approval of any executive appointees, he can make rules to allow or restrict any amendments to bills, he can have debate ruled out of order by controlling the rules committee, and by using the power of the Majority Leader position he can change the Senate Rules to almost anything he wants. In the case of Harry Reid, he has shirked his constitutional duty by not allowing a federal budget to be passed for years. Since the passage of the 17th Amendment there is virtually no recourse.

If the Speaker of the House is in the same political party, party leadership (all of two people) will have total control over Conference Committees which shape how legislation in its final form is voted on; such power is near impossible to check.

Does this sound democratic to you? Is this what you have in mind when you think of a congress?

It gets worse….

The Majority Leader uses his power to modify legislation to aid party supporters, to steer appropriations and favorable legislation to Senators who will obey, and punish Senators who do not. As a result Senators are much more responsive to big money interests and K Street lobbyists than their own constituents. Senators get millions of dollars from out of state to run ads which are often used to trick voters with dishonest messaging. This goes quintuple for the Majority Leader. With his power to craft, steer, and modify legislation and the appropriations process he becomes a fund raising behemoth. The Majority Leader will control a “Leadership PAC” to dump campaign money into the coffers of Senators who obey his will.

How many of you have ever had a Senator who could care less what you had to say or your problems? How many of you have asked for constituent service from your Senator only to have his staff blow you off and tell you that is what your House member is for?

Look at states such as Virginia, who have state legislatures that oppose the expensive disaster that is Obamacare, have an elected Attorney General who sued in court to help stop parts of Obamacare and won, when when the people of the state and the members of the state legislature beg their two Senators for relief they are told to go fly a kite.

After learning all this it is no surprise why the 17th Amendment is considered one of the “Progressive Amendments” along with the income tax and other federal power grab amendments designed to centralize power in Washington DC. [Note: Progressives and statists love to create the illusions and trappings of public input and a democratic process – “You will have to pass the bill to find out what is in it” – former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi]

The Senate was created to represent the states and now they represent big money interests. If the State Legislatures control the Senators said Senators would have no choice but be responsive to the will of the people and the state, it would gave the states real representation in the central government once again, it would take the power away from out of state big money interests and power away form K Street lobbyists.

Citizens who wish to talk directly with their state legislator can just simply to his house or call him directly on the phone because the districts are small. State legislators are responsive to the voice of the people because the nature of their small districts forces them to be, thus amplifying your voice in the central government, not diminishing it.

Note: Mark Levin has proposed 11 Amendments to restore the checks and balances that have been broken down by dishonest courts and a Congress that has yielded most legislative power to unelected bureaucrats: