Our 17th amendment problem.

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Listen To You Tell Me Texas Friday 10/27/17


You may not know the 17th amendment to the Constitution specifically but you are living with its effects and – by my estimation – not happily.

Prior to the 17th amendment in 1913, United States senators were elected by state legislatures. The idea was this. The House of Representatives would be comprised of members elected by the people from individual congressional districts in each of the states, the number of districts dictated by the state’s population.

The Senate would be comprised of two members from each state regardless of population. The House was to represent the people. The Senate was to represent the states.

The states need the representation. Our federal republic is just that – a republic. It’s not a direct democracy in which a majority of the people rule. It’s a union of people and states and it was intended that each state retain a high degree of sovereignty. Most of the arguments at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 revolved around figuring out how to give the federal government the authority it needed without unduly weakening the states.

Thus, it was decided that state legislatures would see to their interests at the federal level via the mechanism of two members each in the United States Senate.

But that was undone by the 17th amendment. Today, senators are elected by the people, just as representatives are. A senator today is really nothing more than a congressman who hangs around longer, gets paid more and, in a large state like Texas, is proportionally less accountable to any single voter.

The states are certainly not well represented. The fact that senators are no longer answerable to their respective state legislatures explains in large measure why the states have devolved into de facto branch offices of the federal government.

As to better, more accountable representation for the people, try this. Call any of Senator John Cornyn’s offices in Washington or Texas and try to get an actual human on the phone.

You won’t.

Instead, you’ll hit a voice mail wall. Cornyn will speak to you in a recording and assure you that he is supremely anxious to hear your thoughts on the issues that are important to you and your family, and blah, blah, blah, and please leave a message. (Note that he won’t ask you to leave your number. No one’s going to call you back. Just leave a message. Some intern will eventually listen to it.)

This is all because John Cornyn is elected by you but in actual practice he’s not really all that accountable to you. He is accountable to the National Republican Senate Committee. He’s accountable to certain donors and industry lobbyists. He is accountable to the Majority Leader.

But as it pertains to you, he’ll say all the right words in his office’s voice mail greeting. But what he really wants from you is your amnesia every six years. Between now and then, your input — truth be told — is really just a nuisance.

John Cornyn and his GOP colleagues promised to repeal Obamacare and have now failed. But I doubt that Cornyn is terribly worried about losing his job when it comes up in 2020.

For that you can thank that amnesia that I mentioned – along with the 17th amendment.

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Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of ATW Media, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The TEAM FM in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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7 Responses

  1. Sadly, undoing the 17th amendment will never happen.

  2. Cornyn caught Potomac Fever early on.
    Think “The Swamp.”
    But by comparison Cruz makes him look statesmanlike.

    Bone-up-on the more relevant Amendment, #25.

  3. L Miles says:

    The blind HATRED of Trump, Cruz, or any other brave Patriot, can not be cured. Q.E.D.


  4. C M Solomon says:

    Paul, the 17th Amendment of 1913 was a key victory of the Progressive movement at that time to dismantle one of the foundations of our Republic and explains “why the states have devolved into de facto branch offices of the federal government.” If the Deceitful, Leftist, Socialist, Marxist, Progressives were truthful and could have their way, they would turn this country into a pure Federal dictatorship run from Washington in every respect. All state, county, city, and yes, your home/family boundaries would be eliminated in favor of a Universal Government that would turn every person, business, politician, and agency, into an arm of the state, all in the name of a pure Democracy, or simply put, Mobocracy, or Social Justice Utopia.

    These Leftist, Religious, Zealots, with NO tolerance for Freedom, are already proposing the elimination of the Electoral College, a fast track, single step, to the devolution of our Republic. Once that happens, the national vote will be dominated by the Peoples Republics of California, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, for example, and all of the Deep Blue large cities that are dominated by Socialist Democrats. At that point, the far Left will control every instrument of government in which the Constitutional limits of “checks and balances” would disappear and we would have a homogenized, all powerful, centralized government entirely controlled by these tyrants. All it takes is another Obama-like victory with INSTALLED corruption at every level of government to make this happen. The positive propaganda from the FAKE media will ensure that the younger generations will accept this utopian tyranny as their patriotic duty to promote FAIRNESS. Let there be Light and Honesty from the far Left? – don’t count on it!

  5. R. Eagleman says:

    Article 5 of the Constitution of the United States is the relevant cure for many of the ailments from which we now suffer, including “Cornynitis”. Every concerned American should support a convention of the states! Speaking of the 25th Amendment and a President Joe Biden, I wonder if there is one democrat who feels embarrassed by our former president using the I.R.S. to silence the Tea Party and other conservative groups to get re-elected? Even though these groups will be awarded compensation from taxpayers, Obama was allowed 4 more years of Progressive damage to our country. Kudos to the sanctimonious Dims! We can only hope that the voters will reward their behavior in future elections.

  6. Linda E. Montrose says:

    The former Whitehouse occupant tried his best to erase our Constitution, our Bill of Rights and ALL the liberty we have left. The one thing that President Trump bashers have in common is that they know that when President Trump succeeds, they fail. Their failure exposes the corruption that has almost toppled this country. The people whom we elected to repeal and replace obamacare never had any intentions of doing so. That has been made abundantly clear by their actions. I will go as far to say that these people do not want this country to be great again. They want the status quo so they can rake in the wealth for themselves. It is obvious, just follow the money trails. Just like with cornyn, he politely dismisses us and our concerns with a recorded message. He doesn’t give a fig about the people he is supposed to be serving. Only when it is election time does he fake concern. Things will never change until the sleeping giant is full awake and willing to take action. We did with the election of Trump, that was just a wakeup call. Now we need to become fully awake!

  7. Wendell says:

    There is no GOP divide. Less than 15% of our legislators are true conservative republicans and all the rest are big spending democrats. Cornyn is at the head of the line to the slop bucket.

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