Free Markets, Fiscal Responsibility, Smaller Government, Secure Borders
by Joanne Daley
Repeal and Replace the 17th Amendment
by State Referendum
During the mid to late 19th Century the Progressive Movement took hold in the western states with the goals of reducing corruption in government and big business and increasing the responsibility of the government for the social welfare of the citizens. Following the Civil War many states had become increasingly divided politically and many found it impossible to select a US Senator from their legislative bodies. Governors were then required to chose a Senator until the legislative body could find an agreeable candidate. The substitute Senators were seen as political payoffs for curried favors of the Governor's party if not the Governor himself. To remedy this inequity and stop the perceived corruption several States proposed direct election of Senators by the citizens.
In 1897 the Oregon State Legislature put forth a law, as a referendum, for direct election of the Senators. This passed overwhelmingly and became the basis for the 17th Amendment and the end of a true Republic. Over 25 more states passed similar legislation prior to the passage of the 17th Amendment.
Over the last 100 years the office of Senator has become a position of the ruling elite with dynasty’s holding several Senate seats for generations. With elections 6 years apart, and citizens having short memory’s, Senators have a time buffer from their election promises and their actual actions taken on legislation. Since the passage of the 17th Amendment they have no threat of consequences for their decisions. They have, however, passed many bills for their own selfish benefits at taxpayer expense abusing the system they have sworn to uphold and making themselves multi-millionaires.
Current technology enables instant communications making it very easy for elected officials to have dialogs with their constituents on pending legislation. Tele-town halls can connect thousands of people across the country; facebook is an easy way to get voter opinions by simply asking a question; twitter allows for instantaneous feedback to Congressmen right on the floor while the bills are being debated. There is no excuse for any elected official to not know the pulse of their constituents and to vote accordingly. Yet, time after time the Senators present lengthy bills they haven’t read or vote for bills they campaigned against and choose to ignore the will of the people they represent, continually playing political games with the budget and debt.
Now is the time to Repeal and Replace the 17th Amendment returning the office of Senator to the control of the States to better balance legislative power. State Legislators must first "nullify" the 17th Amendment by stating the 17th is in Direct Conflict with the 10th Amendment and is thus null and void and no longer recognized by the State. State Legislators then enact a bill to put stipulations and limitations on the office of Senator as a Referendum, which does not require the signature of the Governor, but goes directly to the next General Election ballot. Each State may enact a law with the following minimum stipulations and have the law placed on their following election ballot. The Senators would continue to be directly elected by the voters but there would be conditions imposed on the office to stop the corruption and abuse. The impositions should include, but not be limited to:
1. Senators will be directly elected by the people there of;
2. Terms of office shall be limited to 12 years;
3. The Right of Recall is granted to the State Legislatures by a vote of 2/3 of each House;
4. Senators shall present themselves before the State Legislatures semi annually defining their efforts and accomplishments on behalf of the State and the Citizens therein;
5. Full and complete financial statements of each Senator will be made public by the end of Each Federal Fiscal Year;
6.All Congressional officials of this State, shall be subject to the laws they enact; (this statement now includes House Members as well)
7. Any Congressional official who becomes infirmed and unable to perform their duties of office for more than 90 days shall resign their office to guarantee Constitutional right to representation.(this statement also includes House Members)
These conditions of office shall become effective upon the next election cycle of the Senator. States may create more conditions on the office but all States must agree to these 7 stipulations.
The precedence for this Referendum process comes from the progressive movement’s efforts to direct elect the Senators. The same process that became the basis for the 17th amendment can also become the basis for the Repeal and Replacement of the 17th amendment. State laws to direct elect the Senators were never challenged in court, by the Supreme Court or by Congress. Thus, the right of the people to effect the direct election of a Senator stands as a precedent to further modify the office of the Senator.
In the future, when the majority of States have passed the same legislation, then the Repeal and Replacement of the 17th Amendment can become an Amendment to the Constitution