Are you often put off by national politics? Do you sometimes think there is no difference between the two major political parties? Are all politicians “dirty” and/or corrupt? Does the gridlock in DC put you off? Well, your answer to any or all the above is “yes”, you are not alone. It seems that the gears of the national government are at best snafu … continuously. It has always been the same in my 50+ years of watching the process. So recently I began to study why.
We must remember that the United States is made up of 50 more or less independent republics … sovereign States. The federal government in DC was created by those States to unite themselves by their mutual consent with a compact of common interests. The States had originally banded together against Britain for the common goal of independence and would likely have to mutually aid each other again in the future. After the Revolution, they needed to be able to freely trade among themselves and with foreign governments. They had common interests in things like mutual protection, protection from one another, free communication amongst themselves and free commerce. They needed a common currency, and needed to affirm certain principles like patents, copyrights and a uniform bankruptcy code. The Constitution that they wrote affirmed 17 issues important to each and all. In their august document, as an afterthought, they affirmed that certain enumerated rights would be equal for all. Beyond that, the Federal Government was to be secondary as was articulated in the 10th Amendment… “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The States governed the people, the Federal Government was to protect the States, free trade and the rights of the people.
The republic was founded to protect the individual … not the crowd. The founders knew that democracy did not work on a massive scale, where the individual was but an unheard voice coming from a blurred face in the seething masses. Only on the local level, where the voice of each individual could be heard directly by his peers, did democracy work. Only where each person interacted with his neighbor was majority rule fair, solving truly mutual problems. The genius of the Founders, in that long summer of 1787, was that they crafted a national government that guaranteed that each voter had a direct pipeline to the national government while retaining democracy where it counted — at home.
There was no way that population alone could guarantee a viable government … that was decided at the outset. If at that time there had been a pure national democracy, the votes of Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and Charleston would have decided every national issue … for that is where the population lay. In order to have a viable system every area had to be represented, so each State, regardless of its population was given two Senators. The House of Representatives was adjudicated based upon population, with the proviso that each State was guaranteed at least one member in that body also. The Founders intended for the less populous States to have a method, by their presence in the Senate to counterbalance the overwhelming power of the more populous States … the principle of the protection of the minority.
The point that is almost always missed is the manner of election of the Senate. The Senate was to be elected by the state legislatures. Since the senators are in real fact the ambassadors of their states to the Congress, it is altogether proper that they be beholden to the elected officials of their states. What could give the officeholder better perspective than direct communication with their democratically elected state representatives? But further, since the local voters knew that representative personally, they had real incentive to participate in politics. Senators who lost touch with their home states found themselves swiftly replaced. Even less understood is the devastating effect of the Progressive action of a Supreme Court decision ruining the makeup of state legislatures. The Constitution guarantees the states a republican form of government similar to the national Congress. (see: Article V, Section 4) The Court abrogated that with their Progressive “one man one vote” reading of the 14th Amendment.
The Progressives of the early 20th Century killed this fundamental concept by adopting the 17th Amendment. With its demise came the consequence, intentional or unintentional, of hugely costly campaigns caused by outside interests like eco-groups, corporations and organized labor. These external interests inject out-of-state influence and money. This influence and money, using the mass media with its electronic demagoguery, has bought and still does buy senate seats for carpetbaggers, party hacks, handsome charlatans and the unqualified. How much better would it be if the senators came from the will of those elected to represent us, our legislators … who, in turn, owe their own position to a truly democratic election by their local constituents?
Do you want a true democratic republic like the one given us by our forefathers, where the state and local governments are the main concerns of our public life? Or do you prefer the tyranny of a burgeoning, unresponsive national bureaucracy like the one fulminating in DC? The genius of the Constitution lies in the supremacy of the states over the federal government, and of the individual over the states. What better time than now to begin restoring this vision to our nation once more? Repealing the 17th Amendment is of paramount importance to this goal.