This is my third and final installment of Constitutional Amendments that the Republican-Tea Party (RTP) wants to alter or abolish prior to today’s election.  This one in particular puzzles me the most.  They want to eliminate the 17th Amendment.  This is the amendment that provides for the popular election of Senators.  Prior to this Amendment, they were appointed by the State Legislatures.

Here is the Amendment:

XVII Amendment

1: The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

2: When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

3: This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

I’m not going to break down this amendment section by section.  It’s intent and purpose is fairly self explanatory.   It provided for the direct election of Senators replacing the previous method which was appointment by the State Legislatures.

The history behind this amendment will help explain why this amendment was enacted.  It began in the 1850’s during the pre-Civil War era struggles between Free States and Slave States.

These difficulties always occurred when Congress was not in session.  The slavery issue was dividing the country and making it extremely difficult to get business taken care of.

In Indiana a new Senator was not in place from 1855-1857 and in California, the same thing happened during the same two years.

After the Civil War, it became worse and finally Congress attempted to reform the laws regarding Senator selection by State Legislatures.  These methods were fairly ineffective and there was finally a push in the early 1900’s to get a Constitutional Amendment to provide for direct election of US Senators.  This fight was led by Senator Robert M. LaFollette a Progressive from Wisconsin.

He felt that there was too much corruption involved with the process of having the Legislatures appoint Senators.  He also believed that having Senators directly elected would help to eliminate a lot of the dishonesty involved in the current process that was in force at the time.

This Amendment was approved by Congress and it was ratified by the State Legislatures and became part of the Constitution in 1913.

Now why would the RTP want to revert back to having the State Legislatures elect the Senators instead of the people?  That’s a really good question.  All I can to at this point is offer conjecture  because there is no real logical explanation for their motives.

Since corruption and dishonesty appears to be one of their main motives this would fall into place with their ideals.  Why have the people elect Senators when they can pull the process back into the smoke filled rooms where graft and bribery are so commonplace?  This to me is one of the reasons and the other reason is completely logical to me.  Most of the current State Legislatures are controlled by the RTP.  It is logical to conclude that these Legislatures would appoint someone from within their own ranks.  Hence a RTP majority would be guaranteed.

Think about this for a minute.  The RTP hates Liberals and Democrats because they consider them elitist. Why is it that Liberals want to involve more people in the democratic process?  Liberals are inclusive, we try to bring people together.  The RTP is exclusive, they push people away.

Finally, the Constitution is not just some dusty old document resting in a museum somewhere.  IT IS A LIVING, BREATHING DOCUMENT that changes and evolves over time.

The framers of the Constitution made altering it a difficult process.  They realized that deep thought and careful consideration was required before changes should be made.

You have to remember that when the Constitution was written our form of government was radical and untested.  It was called the “Great American Experiment.”  Our liberties were recently won in battle from Great Britain and every country in Europe was watching us waiting for our government to fail.

We proved to the world that our form of government although not perfect, was the most responsive to the will and needs of the people.

When you vote today, remember that your vote will change the course of history for our great country.  Either you want to move forward with continued PROGRESS or  you will vote for the RTP and go backwards or REGRESS.  The choice is yours.  Please think before you vote.  Our future will depend on it.

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