By Tim Urling
1913 was a bad year for America! We got the Federal Reserve System, the IRS and the Income Tax with the 16th Amendment and direct election of senators by popular vote with the 17th Amendment. Erosion of state’s rights and federalism has taken place over a period of time but perhaps nothing has done so much harm as the 17th Amendment.
Few ask why the Framers in the first place wanted senators “chosen by the Legislature thereof” as part of the original Constitution. In their wisdom, the Founders created one body of Congress to be the voice of the people, the House of Representatives, and the other the voice of the states, the Senate. For more than 100 years the senators were beholden to each state’s legislatures to curb the power of the federal government. Fisher Ames of Massachusetts referred to the U.S. senators as “ambassadors of the states” to preserve state sovereignty. It was understood that each state legislature would instruct their senators to represent them in congress. Senators were largely free from being intimidated, bribed and bought-off from corrupt influences. Now senators get elected by expensive campaigns, holding fundraisers outside their states and collecting donations from all over the country. Senators hardly represent their constituents from their own states.
Alexander Hamilton is quoted as saying that the election of senators by state legislatures would be an "absolute safeguard" against federal tyranny. Thankfully, we may be heading toward the Founder’s original intent. The Idaho State Republican Party has adopted a resolution to repeal the 17th and Senate Joint Resolution 35 has been introduced into the U.S. Senate to require a return to the Constitution.
Our Constitution is meant to govern the federal government, not the states and not the people. For example, the Bill of Rights grants no rights to the people. It simply prevents the feds from violating certain rights which people are endowed from God. But, the Bill of Rights places no prohibitions on state governments as each state is a jealous guardian of their independence and sovereignty with regard to their internal affairs. If the states abuse the rights of their citizens they will lose productive citizens and competition among other states will force correction. However, when the central government becomes a dictatorship, people have nowhere to seek refuge from tyranny. Today with the assault on state’s rights, there is a multifaceted effort to make our state lines mean no more than our county lines mean within each state.
We will not keep our liberty if we don’t stop government growth and if we ever again hope to live in a free society, one of their first orders of business should be the repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment.