Thursday, June 9, 2011

Loss of Liberty – the 17th Amendment

In a little less than a month we will celebrate the founders of these united States independence from tyranny and oppression. This independence lasted until 1913 removal of the power of the states, the 17th amendment was passed.  
The 17th amendment modified Article 1 Section 3 of the Constitution. Originally the senate was chosen by the state legislatures rather than a vote. This allowed the states the ability to immediately recall senators who were not acting in the best interest of the people and the states.  As the Constitution read- “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.”  These two bodies were designed to provide checks and balances between the legislative branch and the executive branch while also providing checks and balances between the federal government and the states.
The 17th amendment changed to be “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. 
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. 
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.” 
Notice that the states originally had the power to choose and select the federal senators thus giving the states a great deal of power in the legislative branch of government just as the constitution is clearly written to do.  By removing a great deal of the power of the states that power was then centralized in the federal legislative branch.  Today the power lies much more with the executive branch with the judicial as a watchdog for them usually, with a fairly impotent legislative branch at the bottom.  This is far from the original republic for which our forefathers and their families sacrificed and died. The independent republic of several states and a federal government made and powered by the states which are powered by the people that the founders envisioned and created has fallen to a national government that takes all from the states and the people and allows the states to act in accordance with the wills of the national body or the states will lose funding which is and was their rightfully.   
Why should the people not choose their own Senators? For starters, this amendment strips power from the states, which ultimately strengthens the federal government.  This Amendment removes an important check and balance between the federal government and the states. This Amendment completely removes the states from participation in the approval of federal legislation, approval of executive appointments for cabinet positions and federal judges, ratification of international treaties, and judgment in all matters of impeachment.
James Madison wrote in The Federalist #45 that “the powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State Governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negociation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will for the most part be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people; and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”
Read the first two sentence a few times. The powers of the States Governments are numerous and indefinite and the powers of the Federal Government few and defined. We have come a long way from the framers’ ideas on a Federal Government role. Additionally Madison wrote “The Senate will be elected absolutely and exclusively by the State legislatures.”
As Henry Lamb put it “The founders who fought tooth-and-nail for four months in Philadelphia did so because they loved freedom and hated despotism. They knew the only way to prevent a government from becoming despotic was to create multiple power sources and force them to compete, and to require eventual agreement before any new law could be imposed upon the people.
The purpose for having a bicameral legislature was to have two separate constituencies examine proposed legislation. The House of Representatives represented the people; the Senate – chosen by state legislatures – represented the states. These two sources of power had to agree on all legislation before it could go to the president. The president, another power source, had to agree before any proposal could become law.
The 17th Amendment obliterated this carefully designed system by removing the states from participation. What remained was a bicameral legislature representing a single constituency, divided only by party affiliation. Thus began the tug-of-war between two political persuasions for control of the power government possesses. Before the 17th Amendment, the purpose of government was to protect the inherent rights of its citizens and to defend them from all enemies foreign and domestic. After the 17th Amendment, the purpose of government evolved into the enforcement of political theories the ruling party believed to be most suitable for the people.”
It is too late to be concerned that a loss of liberty is imminent, rather it is time to lament that the republic has been subverted.  We see daily the fourth amendment being thrown aside with the aid of many federal judiciaries and even states judges as well. We have long seen the assault of first amendment rights with the right to exercise your religious faith compromised by rulings rather than laws as to avoid making a law that will prohibit the free exercise of religion.  This happens with speech and the freedom to peaceably assembly as well when we are forced to pay for a permit to exercise our rights or be fined and jailed with local rules rather than laws.
The positive outcome of the intrusions is that America is waking up and yearning for our God-given rights. We are reaching the point of demanding the liberties that has made this union of states in a federal government so great. As Alex Jones says (referring to the George Orwell novel and current state of affairs) “the answer to 1984 is 1776!”

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