Know your (state's) rights

The Wall Street Journal ran a piece recently Generic viagra online without prescription

001424052702304879604575582192395853212.html?mod=WSJ_WSJ_US_News_5″>about the current anti-Washington sentiment reviving an old debate over the 17th Amendment. This Amendment, which provides for the direct election of US Senators, has been denounced by some Republicans. A repeal of the law would involve appointing senators by state legislators.

“People would be better off if senators, when they deliver their messages to Washington, remember the sovereignty of the states,” Mike Lee, who supports repeal, told reporters recently. Mr. Lee is a Republican running for the U.S. Senate from Utah. Proponents of repeal say the amendment wrecked the founding fathers’ balance between national and state governments, removing one of the last checks to unbridled power in Washington. Opponents counter that direct election of senators, long a goal of the Progressive movement of that era, expanded democracy.

This raises several interesting questions. First, the idea of “remembering state sovereignty,” or “Senators representing states,” is worth exploring. What exactly does this mean? A state, after all, is what is propecia viagra no perscription not a moral agent that is capable of being represented the same way a person or group of persons is. Perhaps this just means representing the citizens living in that state – but if this is true, why does direct election of senators not provide for this?

Second, we can ask what the status of Federalism and state sovereignty is in modern America. At the time of the Constitution’s writing, it was reasonable to assume that different states had different political and economic values. But geography no longer seems to correlate as strongly with political or economic beliefs, considering how often Americans move and how quick information is disseminated. So, is Federalism an historical artifact, or somehow central to American political values?

Finally, even if Federalism is essentially American in some important way, is there any truth to the Progressive stance that direct election of Senators limit democracy? If so, what should be done about it?


Photo by Flickr user Marion Doss used under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

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2 Responses to “Know your (state's) rights”

  1. Manzell on November 4th, 2010 12:50 pm

    Please, the republican party is all about instant gratification these days. When Ah-nold was elected governor, they suddenly wanted to repeal the native-born requirement for the presidency, but we don’t hear much about that anymore. Now that they’re having a harder time cracking the Senate than the House, hey, why not an end-run around the whole “election” issue; of course, they’d be the first calling for a return to “letting the people decide, not Washington elitists” the second that Dem’s retake the house.

    Whatever the merits of legislature-nominated Senators are, don’t expect to hear them from the R’s at this moment in time.

  2. Ben Abbott on November 5th, 2010 6:43 am

    I’d expect Senators would be more sensitive to their state’s sovereignty if they were elected by the states’ legislatures.

    I’d *hope* that would lead to different states applying different solutions to problems and result in competition.

    I’d also expect that state legislatures to do a better job in restraining the growth of the federal government’s deficits than we have a citizens.

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