17 June 2009
"Repeal the 17th Amendment"
My mention of this slogan on a sign carried at yesterday's "tea party" event in Albany has created some confusion among readers, and I wasn't exactly certain myself if the protester knew, symbolically speaking, what he was talking about. But believe it or not, there is a movement to repeal the Seventeenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the one that stripped state legislatures of the power to elect U.S. Senators and gave it to the people of the states. Googling the slogan revealed a blog dedicated to the idea, and numerous other websites besides. The motive seems to be to protect states' rights, the perception being that Senators are failing in their obligation to represent the states and serving their own partisan interests instead. This site summarizes the arguments for repeal, offering term limits for legislators and senators alike as the remedy for the corruption that provoked the amendment's ratification in the first place. The idea has been rattling around for a while and has been endorsed occasionally by conservative Republicans who happen not to hold elective offices, though it seems to be beyond the mainstream Republican agenda. I still say it was an odd sign for someone to carry at an anti-government rally in Albany, where the legislature is the body people might least want to grant additional power.