Friday, April 30, 2004

Good Old Zell From today's Political Diary: "[Zell Miller] the 72-year-old Democrat has decided to take on one more cause before his retirement this year. United Press International reports he has introduced a constitutional amendment to repeal the 17th Amendment that provided for the popular election of Senators. 'Federalism, for all practical purposes, has become to a generation of leaders some vague philosophy of the past that is dead, dead, dead,' he told his fellow Senators on Thursday. 'The reformers of the early 1900s killed it dead and cremated the body when they allowed for the direct election of U.S. Senators.'

Before the 17th Amendment was ratified in 1913, Senators were selected by their respective state legislatures. The Founding Fathers envisioned the House, where members were elected from districts, as the chamber that would represent the popular will and be closest to the citizenry. The Senate was designed as a more deliberative body that would represent the states as political entities.

'The election of U.S. Senators by the state legislatures was the linchpin that guaranteed the interests of the state would be protected,' Mr. Miller told colleagues. 'Direct election of senators, as good as that sounds, allowed Washington's special interests to call the shots, whether it's filling judicial vacancies or issuing regulations. The state governments aided in their own collective suicide by going along with the popular fad of the time.'"

It's an interesting idea, and one about which I'm not sure what to do. Anyone have any thoughts?

UPDATE [4/30/2004 - 14:44]: IchiBlog has a nice round-up of some thoughts on this subject. His general conclusion is that returning election of Senators to the state legislatures would be a good idea.

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