Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Even Americans Like Our Senate Model

Well... sort of. From Political Wire:
A group of Republican state representatives in Georgia would like to repeal the 17th Amendment and return the election of U.S. Senators to the state legislatures, the Douglas County Sentinel reports.

The proposal requests that the U.S. Congress "begin action to repeal the 17th Amendment. The process would require a two-thirds approval by both the U.S. House and Senate, then ratification by at least three-quarters of the states. Political pundits give the move little chance of success."

For those unaware, the 17th Amendment of the US Constitution basically established direct elections for the US Senate in 1912. Before then, Senators were "elected" by the state legislatures, i.e., whoever controlled the Georgia House of Representatives would select who could become a US Senator for their state. For Georgia, that is the Republicans, thus their pick would likely end up being a Republican.

While that makes zero difference in Georgia, where both US Senators are already Republicans (though there is polling being done that suggests Democrats could pick-up the open 2014 seat), it could potentially cause the Democrats to lose their majority in the upper chamber. Looking over the list of who controls which state legislature, if this kind of appointment system was instituted for the 2014 midterms, Democrats would lose incumbents in Alaska, Montana, Louisiana, South Dakota, Iowa, Virginia, Michigan, North Carolina, and a few other states. The Republicans would lose Maine, Kentucky, and that's about it. It would hand the Republicans control of the Senate easily, and possibly indefinitely, as many of these states that support moderate Democratic Senators elect Republican state legislatures consistently.

While the means are different to our Senator selection process, the ends are the same - unelected partisan control of the upper chamber. Sure, you can control Senate selection indirectly by voting in the legislatures, but like in Canada, US Senators would probably outlast the lives of the legislature that appointed them, and could survive through turnovers.

Like the stupid suggestion of changing the way the Electoral College works in the US, this suggestion is done simply to take away power from people and into the hands of partisans, specifically Republican partisans. Our Senate works more or less on the same principle right now, as while it does do good work, and it does have a legitimate purpose, in reality the practical purpose is for parties to extend their partisan control over all levels of government, even if its done in the most undemocratic of ways.

1 comment:

  1. The US should have 3 senators per state.

    Also, my personal preference, is that two of them would go to the top two parties in the state and the final one would be up for election in the mid-terms.