Writings and observations

Taking away the people’s rights … really

Last fall during the campaign, one of the odder policy ideas associated with a lot of Tea Party candidates (including new Idaho Representative Raul Labrador) was the repeal of the 17th amendment. That was the change that allowed the voters, as opposed to state legislators, to choose the United States senators from the states. You might think that a movement purportedly concerned with individual liberty would have a problem with that, but evidently not.

When the subject came up during congressional debates, Labrador’s basic response was to brush it aside as something that would obviously never happen – it was no more than a hypothetical.

So. On Tuesday just such a proposal – nonbinding, but calling on Congress for action – was proposed to the Idaho House State Affairs Committee by Representative Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home. And it was not a wishy-washy statement; it said that “The electoral process for choosing a United States Senator has devolved into a chaos of pettifoggery, populism, bribery, cronyism, demagoguery, outside influences and outside money that unfairly favors the rich or connected.” It said that “A Senator no longer is responsible to his State, nor to the populace that elected him.”

But would be, presumably, if the legislators and not the voters had sole control. What actually happened, of course, when the system was set up that way, was massive corruption in legislatures from coast to coast, and in the Senate as well. But there are moneyed interests who’d prefer it that way.

The State Affairs Committee declined to introduce it. But six Republican legislators voted in favor. (The minutes, for determination of who they were, unfortunately isn’t yet available.)

Keep this in mind the next time you hear talk about “freedom and liberty” from these people.

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