Tea Party Patriots are regularly mocked as intellectual rubes for wanting a return to First Principles; a favorite target of sneering derision is our longing for the checks & balances so exquisitely enshrined in the Constitution as it stood prior to the 17th Amendment, which was added (unsurprisingly) during The Progressive Era, to allow direct election of Senators. It sounded like a good idea, “Power to the people,” right? It’s absurd that we shouldn’t elect our 2 Senators per state, right?
If you’ve ever wished you had a ready argument for why the 17th Amendment qualifies as yet another bumper-sticker-idea-with-bad-unintended-consequences, in a long line of Progressive bumper-sticker-ideas-with-bad-unintended-consequences, here you go. From “Hamilton’s Curse” a book I heartily recommend:
“In Federalist no. 10 James Madison remarked that the whole purpose of the Constitution was to control “the violence of faction,” by which he meant special-interest politics. The appointment of senators by state legislatures was one of the constitutional constructs that was intended to assist in this goal. It did so by limiting senators’ ability to sell their votes to special-interest groups nationwide. After all, senators who went to Washington and voted against the interests of their home-state constituents could and would be replaced on short notice by their state legislatures; the founders well understood that it is easier to manipulate the public than to fool professional politicians who follow the issues intently.”
It was genius the way it was intended. Everyone had a seat at the table: the people‘s interests were represented, quite literally, by their Representatives, in the form of the House, then, moving up a level, each individual states‘ interests as a whole, were (intended to be) protected & nurtured by the members of the Senate, and then finally, all the way to the top, the country‘s interests were protected by the President in the Executive.
Then the Progressives removed one seat.
What hubris! I mean, good God, the more I read about our Founders, and how they thought, and arrived at their conclusions, and crafted that “glorious liberty document” as Frederick Douglass called it, I am as convinced in the hand of God upon us as I was when I was snorkeling in Bonaire and saw the magnificent underwater world. There was no way to swim under the Caribbean Sea and not see a Supreme, Organizing Hand. There are things in this world that are just so magnificent, so exquisitely crafted & balanced, that you have to just pause, and realize how small you are to the giants among us, human, and Divine.
And I’m okay with that, you know? I don’t bristle knowing there are people way, way, way smarter than me. Quite the opposite! I thank God for them! And am daily inspired by them!