photo credit: vgm8383

1913 was a bad year for liberty. In this one year alone, future generations of Americans were enslaved to the evils of central banking through the creation of the Federal Reserve; government claimed ownership of roughly one third of each American’s life through the income tax; and the Founders’ system of federalism was dismantled through the passage of the seventeenth amendment to the Constitution.

The latter is often overlooked by advocates of liberty, since the effects of the existence of the Fed and the income tax are keenly and constantly felt. However, we must not overlook the loss of state sovereignty that took place with the seventeenth amendment, nor its importance in our current political system. Since 1913, the "checks and balances" we teach our youth about were hollowed out by removing the states’ voices from the federal government.

Previous to this amendment, the two senators from each state were elected by the state legislatures. In this way, the senators were beholden to the will of state governments, rather than the people of that state directly. This republican method of representation is key to restraining pure democracy and the ebbing flow of popular passions that go with it. Through their senators, the states could make their voices heard in the federal government; the states had standing and representation to convey their will and restrain the federal government. This model of governance allowed for the tenth amendment to more easily be upheld, since the states had a direct conduit through which to object to the encroachments of the federal behemoth. As James Madison said, “No law or resolution can now be passed without the concurrence, first, of a majority of the people, and then of a majority of the states.”

During the debates in the several state conventions on the adoption of the Constitution, Fisher Ames of Massachusetts gave the following warning about changing this federal system implemented by the Founders:

The state governments are essential parts of the system..The senators represent the sovereignty of the states; they are in the quality of ambassadors of the states.. [But suppose] that they [were] to be chosen by the people at large..Whom, in that case, would they represent? Not the legislatures of the states, but the people. This would totally obliterate the federal features of the Constitution. What would become of the state governments, and on whom would devolve the duty of defending them against the encroachments of the federal government?

Now that this system has been altered to instead create a national government (since the federalist component—that of state representation—was removed), Congress naturally lost any connection to the sovereign interests of the states. These issues, found in their purest form in the several state legislatures, have now been relegated to powerless resolutions expressing each state’s will, but lacking any method of demanding their voices be heard.

The degenerated, democratic alternative we have today involves the direct election of senators, and thus subjects them to the passions of the people rather than the will of the states. Any organized attempt at reasserting state sovereignty and restraining the federal government requires that the seventeenth amendment be repealed, so that the states can once again be represented, and have an official channel through which to support or object to federal policy.


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