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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Next Pedant Who Says "We're A Republic"...

I like BooMan a lot, but this one is a headscratcher:

I definitely would not support repealing the 17th Amendment alone, without other progressive reforms. But I believe our form of government cannot actually function at an acceptable level of efficiency if the Senate is effectively nothing more than a smaller, less democratic version of the House.


I'd rather abolish the Senate than go back to the way things were during the Robber Baron Era. But I'd rather have the state legislatures pick senators than have the Senate function as a small, dysfunctional House.

This really makes no sense to me.  I'll ignore the comment about abolishing the Senate, since there's essentially no way to do that given Article V, let alone the political will.

But seriously, in an era when the GOP is attacking the essential right to vote, you'd rather disenfrachise the People so long as the chamber operates the way you prefer?  And what is your "progressive reform" that will make the Senate function better?  Make it twice as large?  Micromanage its rules in the Constitution instead of leaving them to the Senators?

Of course, the American people would probably never go for it, since it takes power out of their hands. They have been too indoctrinated into the idea that democracy is good to notice that we don't live in a democracy, and we're never supposed to live in one. 

Again, you're really mouthing the Right's idea that we don't deserve to vote?  By repeating the stupid trope, "we live in a republic"?  That's so appallingly glib.

Indeed, the structure of the government is republican, and part of it was intended to foster jealousies between departments that were granted different powers in different modes.  But the mechanisms we use to select our government were designed to be democratic in varying degrees, and over time we've greatly expanded democratic elements and the franchise to better empower the People.  You know, those folks in the Preamble who ordained and established our Constitution.  The Constitution whose meaning, Madison suggested, ought to be derived from "the sense attached to it by the people."

At least as important as having a government that is accountable to the people is having a government that doesn't devolve into civil war or fall apart as states secede. Our Constitution was formed as a stitch-work of compromise. Some of the original compromises are no longer necessary. But some of the fixes are no longer working as intended. The 17th Amendment is one of these.

The People are the ultimate sovereign, not state legislatures. BooMan simply elides the reason we passed the 17th in the first place: because the structure is irrelevent if the selection process is corrupt.  

The Amendment is working as intended.  Our problems go beyond how we choose Senators now.  The forces of corruption have found a workaround in the form of Citizens United, and no Senate majority party wants to assert its control over the rules to streamline them when they could be out of power in the next cycle.

Fixing the Senate's issues most assuredly does not involve reducing the amount of democracy and restricting the franchise.


August 15, 2012 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink


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