Glenn Beck: James Madison and the 17th Amendment
Founding Father James Madison was not an imposing figure, standingonly about 5 foot, 4 inches and weighing less than 100 pounds — thinkVictoria Beckham after a month-long fast. George Washington called him”a withered little apple.”
He may not have been imposing to look at, but he was an intellectualforce to be reckoned with.
He was a major player at the Constitutional Convention and is oftenreferred to as the “father of the Constitution.” And what better sourceto go to in order to talk about something I’ve been thinking a lot aboutlately: the 17th Amendment.
Do you know about the 17th Amendment? It was passed in 1913 — WoodrowWilson supported this. Immediately now, when I see that Woodrow Wilsonsomething, I can be quite certain that it’s not going to be a goodoutcome.
Before 1913, U.S. senators were appointed by state legislatures.Madison explained that the House of Representatives would always beregarded as the “national” institution because its members were electeddirectly by the people. But the Senate, on the other hand, would deriveits powers from the states.
The idea was to have the senators be the representatives of thestates’ interests — sort of a like a lobbyist for the state. You’d thinkprogressive would have liked that.
The 17th Amendment changed that and instituted direct popularelection of United States senators: Two senators from each state,elected by the people. And since that time, states have had no directrepresentation in Washington.
In 1821, Thomas Jefferson warned: “When all government, domestic andforeign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington asthe centre of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided ofone government on another, and will become as venal and oppressive asthe government from which we separated.”
Progressives will tell you that the change was needed because thestates were becoming too corrupt. Well, what’s happened since? Itallowed special interests to lobby senators directly, cutting out themiddleman of the state legislatures.
Has anyone else noticed that senators routinely get large influxes ofcampaign cash from outside the state? Remember Chris Dodd? I didn’tknow anyone in Connecticut who was ready to give money to Chris Dodd.Yet he was getting tons of cash nationally. How is that representativeof Connecticut?
Let me give you an example of the 17th Amendment coming into playtoday: Obama’s health care bill would never have seen the light of day. Asenator looking out for the interest of their state would likely noteven consider anything with an unfunded federal mandate attached to it.Think of a state like Massachusetts: Why would they pay more taxes formandated health care that they already currently have?
James Madison and the Founders didn’t intend for the federalgovernment to have that much power. What would they do if they werearound today?
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