From: Doug Logan
The imagination that the conservative lunatic fringe puts into promoting its schemes is simply astounding. Not long ago, The Republic printed a story about how our own Indiana attorney general planned to join the latest quixotic joust against progress.
Somehow, the far right has decided that the United States Senate needs to be rescued from the unspeakable evil of popular election. Instead of primaries, it wants to have state legislatures choose candidates for the Senate that we, the people, would then be allowed to rubber-stamp.
Never mind that the change to popular election from selection by state legislatures was an amendment to the Constitution. Never mind that passing the 17th Amendment in 1913 was a triumph of the Progressive era and made the Senate a body that represented the people instead of the plutocrats.
Never mind that the Indiana Legislature has recently proven itself so corrupt that it could find nothing “technically” unethical in a member lobbying his colleagues to vote down a bill that would have kept a gazillion dollars out of his pocket.
The explanation offered by the would-be aristocrats is that the U.S. Senate was intended to be a body of ambassadors from the several states. Where did they come up with that bit of nonsense? The Mad Hatter and March Hare set usually cite the Federalist Papers as their source for this kind of silliness, but they can’t blame this one on Alexander Hamilton.
The closest thing I can find to this ambassadorship claim is in Federalist No. 62, where James Madison, who was, by the way, no friend of the money-men and stock-jobbers, wrote that “the equal vote allowed to each state is at once a constitutional recognition of the portion of sovereignty remaining in the individual states, and an instrument for preserving that residuary sovereignty.” But Madison’s point is that the structure of the Senate benefits the states, not that the senators are some sort of visiting poobahs.
One of the really unfortunate characteristics of the arch-conservative set is the way it has taken to cloaking its pursuit of privilege as some sort of — mythical, to put it mildly — historical restoration. Remember that advances like expanded voting rights and popular election of senators have increased the democratic nature of our government.
Let your state legislators know that you want to keep your rights because if we don’t, we may wake up to find that the tea-stirrers have dialed the right to vote all the way back to men who own 50 acres or a shop.