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A Blunder from the US Constitution

TDGonDP

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The US Senate was indeed a unique social engineering invention. Its function was to allow each state to represent its own interest in Congress. So each state, by its own legislative process, elected or appointed its own person to serve as senator for a six-year term in Washington D.C. Thus the senate countered the populist mindset in the House of Representative, which was elected by popular vote. The founding fathers recognized that democracy in its purest form could give rise to a mob mentality, and the Senate—by being state-focused and having a longer term to think past the next election—was regarded as an important check-and-balance to both the House and the President.

Then in 1912, the 17th amendment to the US Constitution passed. This allowed the senators to be elected by popular vote from citizens of the state. The selection responsibility had been taken away from state legislatures.

With this change, it became easier for Congress to set up national programs for issues that more related to state rights as defined by the constitution. For example, the federal government would offer a financial incentive to all states to adopt a national program. The state was free to accept it or reject it, but if it was rejected, the money did not flow into the state coffers. Governors and state legislatures were more often than not accepting of these funds. But when they accepted, they also had to alter their state-run programs to fit the mandate of the federal program. As such, the states lost much of the advantage to implement local solutions for local needs, which is what the founding fathers had envisioned. Hence, there was an indirect erosion of state rights and responsibilities after senators become popularly elected. Senators lost their focus for state rights because they were now more inclined to work towards the electoral success of their political party. Maintaining that division of federal and state responsibilities became blurry.

To many “state rights” advocates, the 17th amendment was a serious mistake. And they are quick to paint the motivations of the amendment as a conspiracy to deliberately move authority, responsibility, and control away from the state capitals to Washington D.C.

But what these advocates fail to admit is that there were problems with the selection of the senators themselves prior to 1912. For example, a senate seat could be given to a loyal party worker who really had no “brand name” with public (in other words, patronage). Or it could be given to a political rival of the governor just to keep the rival away from local politics. And a few senators treated their appointment as a six-year vacation, not really doing much in the senate. And there were a few reported incidents of senators offering cash for their six-year term of office. And sometimes, a state legislature would not be able to agree on an appointment, leaving the state unrepresented in Senate deliberations and votes. In essence, the position of the senator was losing credibility in the eyes of the public on several fronts. There was a building political pressure to make a change. When Oregon chose its senators based on popular vote in 1908, the rest of the country followed quickly, including the 17th amendment.

If one disagrees with the real reasons for the 17th amendment, then we should conclude that the Constitution failed on six counts:

1) Prior to 1912, the constitution did not produce the quality of senators to assure the public of a credible system of governance. Had the public viewed senators with trust and respect, the 17th amendment would not have happened.
2) The constitution allowed an amendment that was contrary to the original structure of the American government; i.e. the senators being chosen by a different yet credible electoral process than by popular vote.
3) State rights were eventually usurped to a significant degree, which can be attributed, to a large part, to senators changing their focus.
4) Despite more than a century since 17th amendment had passed, the mistake cannot be fixed.
5) The two political parties do not want the senators to be more independent of the party and thus will not champion this cause.
6) Despite a strong political pressure to go back to the original intent of the constitution, it is difficult for any non-partisan movement to force a repeal or replacement of the 17th amendment.

If the constitution was and is indeed a well working document, then some, if not all, of these six counts should not be there.

Or just maybe we should conclude that electing senators by popular vote and reducing state rights were good changes, meaning the constitution worked extremely well in this regard.

But we can’t have it both ways: the constitution is finest system of governance humanity can ever invent, but the 17th amendment was an extremely grave mistake.
 

Harshaw

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****snip for space****

If one disagrees with the real reasons for the 17th amendment, then we should conclude that the Constitution failed on six counts:

1) Prior to 1912, the constitution did not produce the quality of senators to assure the public of a credible system of governance. Had the public viewed senators with trust and respect, the 17th amendment would not have happened.
2) The constitution allowed an amendment that was contrary to the original structure of the American government; i.e. the senators being chosen by a different yet credible electoral process than by popular vote.
3) State rights were eventually usurped to a significant degree, which can be attributed, to a large part, to senators changing their focus.
4) Despite more than a century since 17th amendment had passed, the mistake cannot be fixed.
5) The two political parties do not want the senators to be more independent of the party and thus will not champion this cause.
6) Despite a strong political pressure to go back to the original intent of the constitution, it is difficult for any non-partisan movement to force a repeal or replacement of the 17th amendment.

If the constitution was and is indeed a well working document, then some, if not all, of these six counts should not be there.

Or just maybe we should conclude that electing senators by popular vote and reducing state rights were good changes, meaning the constitution worked extremely well in this regard.

But we can’t have it both ways: the constitution is finest system of governance humanity can ever invent, but the 17th amendment was an extremely grave mistake.

None of your conclusions follow. And at least one of them is conceptually silly -- that the Constitution "failed" because its process for change allows for . . . change.
 

TDGonDP

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None of your conclusions follow. And at least one of them is conceptually silly -- that the Constitution "failed" because its process for change allows for . . . change.

Agreed. The 17th amendment happened for a good reason (too many corrupt Senators). The amendment was given its due process, perhaps too long (I'm seeing a 30-year process). The supporters of the status quo had more than enough opportunity to find a way to straighten out the Senate. They didn't. Too bad for them. The Law of Unintended Consequences came in, and state rights were eroded. If this is so bad, why hasn't the 17th amendment been repealed?

But "state right supporters" cannot claim both the constitution is almost perfect and the 17th amendment was very wrong. This is the paradox.
 

marke

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The US Senate was indeed a unique social engineering invention. Its function was to allow each state to represent its own interest in Congress. So each state, by its own legislative process, elected or appointed its own person to serve as senator for a six-year term in Washington D.C. Thus the senate countered the populist mindset in the House of Representative, which was elected by popular vote. The founding fathers recognized that democracy in its purest form could give rise to a mob mentality, and the Senate—by being state-focused and having a longer term to think past the next election—was regarded as an important check-and-balance to both the House and the President.

Then in 1912, the 17th amendment to the US Constitution passed. This allowed the senators to be elected by popular vote from citizens of the state. The selection responsibility had been taken away from state legislatures.

With this change, it became easier for Congress to set up national programs for issues that more related to state rights as defined by the constitution. For example, the federal government would offer a financial incentive to all states to adopt a national program. The state was free to accept it or reject it, but if it was rejected, the money did not flow into the state coffers. Governors and state legislatures were more often than not accepting of these funds. But when they accepted, they also had to alter their state-run programs to fit the mandate of the federal program. As such, the states lost much of the advantage to implement local solutions for local needs, which is what the founding fathers had envisioned. Hence, there was an indirect erosion of state rights and responsibilities after senators become popularly elected. Senators lost their focus for state rights because they were now more inclined to work towards the electoral success of their political party. Maintaining that division of federal and state responsibilities became blurry.

To many “state rights” advocates, the 17th amendment was a serious mistake. And they are quick to paint the motivations of the amendment as a conspiracy to deliberately move authority, responsibility, and control away from the state capitals to Washington D.C.

But what these advocates fail to admit is that there were problems with the selection of the senators themselves prior to 1912. For example, a senate seat could be given to a loyal party worker who really had no “brand name” with public (in other words, patronage). Or it could be given to a political rival of the governor just to keep the rival away from local politics. And a few senators treated their appointment as a six-year vacation, not really doing much in the senate. And there were a few reported incidents of senators offering cash for their six-year term of office. And sometimes, a state legislature would not be able to agree on an appointment, leaving the state unrepresented in Senate deliberations and votes. In essence, the position of the senator was losing credibility in the eyes of the public on several fronts. There was a building political pressure to make a change. When Oregon chose its senators based on popular vote in 1908, the rest of the country followed quickly, including the 17th amendment.

If one disagrees with the real reasons for the 17th amendment, then we should conclude that the Constitution failed on six counts:

1) Prior to 1912, the constitution did not produce the quality of senators to assure the public of a credible system of governance. Had the public viewed senators with trust and respect, the 17th amendment would not have happened.
2) The constitution allowed an amendment that was contrary to the original structure of the American government; i.e. the senators being chosen by a different yet credible electoral process than by popular vote.
3) State rights were eventually usurped to a significant degree, which can be attributed, to a large part, to senators changing their focus.
4) Despite more than a century since 17th amendment had passed, the mistake cannot be fixed.
5) The two political parties do not want the senators to be more independent of the party and thus will not champion this cause.
6) Despite a strong political pressure to go back to the original intent of the constitution, it is difficult for any non-partisan movement to force a repeal or replacement of the 17th amendment.

If the constitution was and is indeed a well working document, then some, if not all, of these six counts should not be there.

Or just maybe we should conclude that electing senators by popular vote and reducing state rights were good changes, meaning the constitution worked extremely well in this regard.

But we can’t have it both ways: the constitution is finest system of governance humanity can ever invent, but the 17th amendment was an extremely grave mistake.

I see the debate continues. Not surprising.
 

Harshaw

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But "state right supporters" cannot claim both the constitution is almost perfect and the 17th amendment was very wrong. This is the paradox.

No, what this is is a non-sequitur.

1) One need not claim that the Constitution is almost perfect to be a "states rights supporter."

2) The principles of federalism do not depend on any particular document. They do, however, require a particular structure of government.

3) Even if such an argument were made, there is no inconsistency with claiming the Constitution was "almost perfect" and that the "17th Amendment was very wrong." One simply need argue that the 17th Amendment made it much less perfect.
 

Xelor

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Prior to the 17th, US Senators had a measure of independence from daily political exigencies and trifles. The 17th also sundered the connection Senators have to their states as a whole.
 

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A Blunder from the US Constitution



If it is indeed a "blunder", it does not strike me as being particularly fatal; and I would point out that the Constitution has held up rather nicely the past 230 years.

Not perfect, mind you, but not the worst either.
 

PleasantValley

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[snipped]

Then in 1912, the 17th amendment to the US Constitution passed. This allowed the senators to be elected by popular vote from citizens of the state. The selection responsibility had been taken away from state legislatures.

With this change, it became easier for Congress to set up national programs for issues that more related to state rights as defined by the constitution. For example, the federal government would offer a financial incentive to all states to adopt a national program. The state was free to accept it or reject it, but if it was rejected, the money did not flow into the state coffers. Governors and state legislatures were more often than not accepting of these funds. But when they accepted, they also had to alter their state-run programs to fit the mandate of the federal program. As such, the states lost much of the advantage to implement local solutions for local needs, which is what the founding fathers had envisioned. Hence, there was an indirect erosion of state rights and responsibilities after senators become popularly elected. Senators lost their focus for state rights because they were now more inclined to work towards the electoral success of their political party. Maintaining that division of federal and state responsibilities became blurry.

To many “state rights” advocates, the 17th amendment was a serious mistake. And they are quick to paint the motivations of the amendment as a conspiracy to deliberately move authority, responsibility, and control away from the state capitals to Washington D.C.

But what these advocates fail to admit is that there were problems with the selection of the senators themselves prior to 1912. For example, a senate seat could be given to a loyal party worker who really had no “brand name” with public (in other words, patronage). Or it could be given to a political rival of the governor just to keep the rival away from local politics. And a few senators treated their appointment as a six-year vacation, not really doing much in the senate. And there were a few reported incidents of senators offering cash for their six-year term of office. And sometimes, a state legislature would not be able to agree on an appointment, leaving the state unrepresented in Senate deliberations and votes. In essence, the position of the senator was losing credibility in the eyes of the public on several fronts. There was a building political pressure to make a change. When Oregon chose its senators based on popular vote in 1908, the rest of the country followed quickly, including the 17th amendment.

If one disagrees with the real reasons for the 17th amendment, then we should conclude that the Constitution failed on six counts:

1) Prior to 1912, the constitution did not produce the quality of senators to assure the public of a credible system of governance. Had the public viewed senators with trust and respect, the 17th amendment would not have happened.
2) The constitution allowed an amendment that was contrary to the original structure of the American government; i.e. the senators being chosen by a different yet credible electoral process than by popular vote.
3) State rights were eventually usurped to a significant degree, which can be attributed, to a large part, to senators changing their focus.
4) Despite more than a century since 17th amendment had passed, the mistake cannot be fixed.
5) The two political parties do not want the senators to be more independent of the party and thus will not champion this cause.
6) Despite a strong political pressure to go back to the original intent of the constitution, it is difficult for any non-partisan movement to force a repeal or replacement of the 17th amendment.

If the constitution was and is indeed a well working document, then some, if not all, of these six counts should not be there.

Or just maybe we should conclude that electing senators by popular vote and reducing state rights were good changes, meaning the constitution worked extremely well in this regard.

But we can’t have it both ways: the constitution is finest system of governance humanity can ever invent, but the 17th amendment was an extremely grave mistake.

Don't you just love it when foreigners come here and tell us what is wrong with the oldest continuous form of government in one country in the entire world.
Those that give it a LIKE take a similar "Hate USA" stance.

Though we are relatively young as a country, our constitutional system is the oldest form of government in the world.
That fact really...I mean REALLY... pisses them off.
...so they generate posts like these to feel better.
 

TDGonDP

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No, what this is is a non-sequitur.

1) One need not claim that the Constitution is almost perfect to be a "states rights supporter."

2) The principles of federalism do not depend on any particular document. They do, however, require a particular structure of government.

3) Even if such an argument were made, there is no inconsistency with claiming the Constitution was "almost perfect" and that the "17th Amendment was very wrong." One simply need argue that the 17th Amendment made it much less perfect.

I'll just to try explain this is a different way.

If the 17th amendment was so wrong for the USA, then the constitution should not have allowed it to happen.
 

TDGonDP

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Don't you just love it when foreigners come here and tell us what is wrong with the oldest continuous form of government in one country in the entire world.
Those that give it a LIKE take a similar "Hate USA" stance.

Though we are relatively young as a country, our constitutional system is the oldest form of government in the world.
That fact really...I mean REALLY... pisses them off.
...so they generate posts like these to feel better.

My take on the American Constitution is that was the best the world could create for that time. But 200 years have passed, and it's time for a new one. There have only been two amendments in the last 50 years, neither of which was of good or bad consequence.

There is a movement called the Confederation of States, which deserves observation. This group is about working within the current constitution to provide a substantial rewrite. Restoring state rights is one of their main goals. This group seems to be outside of both the political parties and outside of federal politics. It might take another 20 years to make it all happen.

I also have another idea. But because there is a book associated with this idea, I cannot promote it on Debate Politics (rules). You can private message me if you want to hear more.
 

TDGonDP

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If it is indeed a "blunder", it does not strike me as being particularly fatal; and I would point out that the Constitution has held up rather nicely the past 230 years.

Not perfect, mind you, but not the worst either.

In a lot ways, the constution is very amazing. I think Mr. Trump is very frustrated that he can't run the USA like he can his private companies. And a lot of people were predicting that he would take steps in that direction. So far, he is not. I think the constitution is holding him back from how he really wants to do things. All those large and peaceful protests shortly after his inauguration had an effect.
 

Harshaw

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I'll just to try explain this is a different way.

If the 17th amendment was so wrong for the USA, then the constitution should not have allowed it to happen.

That's another non-sequitur, and a false form of ad consequentum argument. You load in a metric ton of unwarranted assumptions.
 

PleasantValley

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My take on the American Constitution is that was the best the world could create for that time. But 200 years have passed, and it's time for a new one. There have only been two amendments in the last 50 years, neither of which was of good or bad consequence.

There is a movement called the Confederation of States, which deserves observation. This group is about working within the current constitution to provide a substantial rewrite. Restoring state rights is one of their main goals. This group seems to be outside of both the political parties and outside of federal politics. It might take another 20 years to make it all happen.

I also have another idea. But because there is a book associated with this idea, I cannot promote it on Debate Politics (rules). You can private message me if you want to hear more.

I disagree. The US Constitution is just fine as amended.
No government is perfect as no people are perfect.
All us imperfect humans can do is to try our best.

I think because we stared off with a pretty good foundation, it is now the oldest form of government in the entire world.
That is something to be proud of.
Few governments guarantee their citizens the RIGHT...the right...to free speech and to have a 500 round case of military ammunition mailed to their front door.

Those are my two demarcation lines on individual freedom.

Thank you for your offer of the book, but i don't think it is a violation if you are not the author. Politics does not interest me enough to read that much about them.
Currently my interests are cabinetry and celestial navigation / astronomy.
I have pointed out links to products to others here with no problems.

Again, thank you for the offer.
 

Rich2018

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...the constitution is finest system of governance humanity can ever invent...


Kinda nailed your colors to the Patriotic mast there.

What do you say the view that the US Constitution is the worst ever legal document every written?


That it makes no sense...that supreme court justices cannot agree over what much of it even means ?


It is an obsolete document from the 18th century that's lost its relevance in the 21st century.


It needs to be consigned to the trash can of history and a new constitution written.


And the new constitution should state in it's first article its sell-by date. I would suggest a new constitution every 50 year at the maximum.
 

Tanngrisnir

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Don't you just love it when foreigners come here and tell us what is wrong with the oldest continuous form of government in one country in the entire world.
Those that give it a LIKE take a similar "Hate USA" stance.

Though we are relatively young as a country, our constitutional system is the oldest form of government in the world.
That fact really...I mean REALLY... pisses them off.
...so they generate posts like these to feel better.

I love it when people think foreigners can't read and be familiar with our gov't and the documents associated with it in order to avoid having to actually think.

And then when they expose their ignorance claim the US is the oldest continuous for of gov't in one country in the entire world, when it's not.

Try San Marino.

You're quite welcome. No, there's no need to thank me.
 

PleasantValley

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I love it when people think foreigners can't read and be familiar with our gov't and the documents associated with it in order to avoid having to actually think.

And then when they expose their ignorance claim the US is the oldest continuous for of gov't in one country in the entire world, when it's not.

Try San Marino.

You're quite welcome. No, there's no need to thank me.

To the contrary.
I like being disproved with facts. It is how I learn new things and don't keep making the same mistakes.

San Marino...I will look it up.

You did not ask for it, but thank you. Now I will go and see if it is true.
(not now, but probably after dinner)

To the previous....foreigners can cuss the US all they want, but they can still kiss my ass if they do.
I don't cuss their governments out of respect, so they should not cuss mine out of the same respect.
If they are incapable of respect, then they can doubly kiss my ass.
 

TDGonDP

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Kinda nailed your colors to the Patriotic mast there.

What do you say the view that the US Constitution is the worst ever legal document every written?


That it makes no sense...that supreme court justices cannot agree over what much of it even means ?


It is an obsolete document from the 18th century that's lost its relevance in the 21st century.


It needs to be consigned to the trash can of history and a new constitution written.


And the new constitution should state in it's first article its sell-by date. I would suggest a new constitution every 50 year at the maximum.

I think you kind of misread me. I too consider the US constitution outdated.
 

TDGonDP

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I disagree. The US Constitution is just fine as amended.
No government is perfect as no people are perfect.
All us imperfect humans can do is to try our best.

I think because we stared off with a pretty good foundation, it is now the oldest form of government in the entire world.
That is something to be proud of.
Few governments guarantee their citizens the RIGHT...the right...to free speech and to have a 500 round case of military ammunition mailed to their front door.

Those are my two demarcation lines on individual freedom.

Thank you for your offer of the book, but i don't think it is a violation if you are not the author. Politics does not interest me enough to read that much about them.
Currently my interests are cabinetry and celestial navigation / astronomy.
I have pointed out links to products to others here with no problems.

Again, thank you for the offer.

I am the author of the book. As I understood the rules of DP, I could not directly promote. I checked with the moderators, and they said "no way". So I shall abide.
 

PirateMk1

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Kinda nailed your colors to the Patriotic mast there.

What do you say the view that the US Constitution is the worst ever legal document every written?


That it makes no sense...that supreme court justices cannot agree over what much of it even means ?


It is an obsolete document from the 18th century that's lost its relevance in the 21st century.


It needs to be consigned to the trash can of history and a new constitution written.


And the new constitution should state in it's first article its sell-by date. I would suggest a new constitution every 50 year at the maximum.


Thomas Jefferson said himself it should be very 20 years.
 

TDGonDP

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Thomas Jefferson said himself it should be very 20 years.

And I think this leads to an important point. No legislation is perfect when it first gets out of the gate. It needs to be tried, analyzed, and modified. If American laws are not in such a process, then the constitution is failing.

In the last 50 years, there have been only two amendments to the US Constitution, neither of which has had much consequence. This is a sign of a democracy that has become stale.
 
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