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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Repeal it

No, not just health care. Apparently, the Tea Partiers want to also repeal the 17th amendment, which establishes popular, direct election of U.S. senators. This is the ultimate anti-Progressive move--direct election of U.S. senators is one of the few actual "Progressive" in the historical sense things in the U.S. Constitution.


I don't quite get this one. The idea seems to be that this would return power to "the States," but I don't think that that is really how state-legislative selection of senators worked in practice. My understanding is that that process led to powerful state party machines that controlled the Senate seats and thus the state legislatures; that the control went contrary to the plan. IIRC, the direct election of senators was intended to lessen the powers of the "special interests."

Maybe that is incorrect. I've never made a detailed study of the question, assuming that it was settled. But with this crowd, nothing is settled law. And they are, of course, "conservatives."


At 12:32 AM, Blogger tenaciousmcd said...

It makes no difference how things work in practice. Do you expect coherence from a group that blames Obama for high taxes (when he cut them), big deficits (a Bush legacy), and TARP (also W). And those realities are RECENT, not a century old.

FWIW, I think it's just more evidence that so-called "libertarians" are more aptly seen as authoritarians, contemptuous of democracy--at least whenever wielded by someone else. I had planned a post on this (maybe later?), but I'd describe this as the reactionary inversion on the "Whig theory" of history (where we're always advancing toward greater freedom). On the Tea Party view, we're always regressing, and anything not ordained by the original founders--e.g., direct election of the Senate--makes us less free. Except that their vision of the founders is a strange and ahistorical one--the 1787 boys become endorsers of all things NOT present-progressive (small government, capitalism, states' rights, Christian triumphalism, individual gun ownership, etc.). As if a policy's relative or presumed "modernity" is prima facie evidence of its being anti-originalist.

But intellectually the new libertarians are really just the old antifederalists (with some odd Tory miscegenation). The only way they resemble the actual "founders" is via "identity" categories: white, well off, Christian, and (generally) male.


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