September 3, 2011

MESSAGE TO DOUG MATACONIS: I haven’t called for the repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment. In fact, the very post of mine that you link — which I had actually forgotten, but hey, it’s not bad! — says this:

It’s even enough to get some people calling for a repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment, which required direct popular election of Senators, whose selection was previously left in the hands of state legislatures.

I don’t know what I think of this idea — you want to think that anything would be an improvement over what we’ve got now, but heck, that’s probably what people thought when we ratified the Seventeenth Amendment — but I have heard it proposed more than once recently. (Some somewhat more serious criticism of the Seventeenth Amendment can be found here.) And this is surely a bad reflection on the Senate as it exists now.

My own proposal for reform would be a bit different: Make anyone who serves in the Senate ineligible to run for President. That wouldn’t be much of a loss, really — Senators do very badly in the Presidential election business anyway. But while legislatively selected Senators might have been smart guys, or at least politically wise men, Senators elected in statewide races are likely to be ambitious politicians who see the Senate as a stepping stone. My proposal would steer those people elsewhere, which might improve the Senate.

See, that’s not really the same thing as repealing the Seventeenth Amendment at all. But I’m happy to put it out there again. Mataconis’ point, however, is that favoring such a repeal is not really a radical position, and that’s certainly true.

UPDATE: A swift correction. Thanks!

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