I ran across this riff on the internet a year or two ago. I laughed---more far-right swamp fever. Reverse the direct election of senators instead of the state legislatures appointing them. 17th Amendment, ratified 1913. Many Americans would be surprised we only voted directly for our senators since 1913.
"Let the state legislatures appoint the Senate," Virginia's George Mason urged at the Philadelphia Convention of 1787, lest a newly empowered federal government "swallow up the state legislatures." The motion carried unanimously after Mason's remarks.
Amending the Constitution has been a rare, well-considered, and largely successful thing. We've only had 27 amendments in 200+ years, and the first 10, The Bill of Rights, were pretty much a promised and required fix-it ticket to get the original Constitution ratified.
---The 12th fixed the technical problem of Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson getting the same number of votes in the electoral college. Nobody actually wanted Burr for president. Now, the electoral college must have two separate elections for president and vice president. No big deal there.
---The 13th freed the slaves. Cool.
---The 14th Amendment. Let's just say "original intent" might have phrased it better. Most constitutional hassles these days ride on whateverthehell it might mean.
---The 15th gave all males the right to vote, including ex-slaves. [The 19th, females, too.]
---The 16th established a constitutional right for the federal government to impose an Income Tax. Well, it was what it was and it is what it is. Any discussion of it is swamp fever. Sorry, Mr. Snipes.
---The 18th banned booze. The 21st repealed it. [Hurrah!]
---The 22nd, in reaction to FDR's 4 consecutive terms, limited presidents to only two. Questionable in some, many, or most quarters, since the only president it really affected was Bill Clinton, who would have run again. He loved being president. And despite his trevails in office, by any and all accounts would have defeated any GOP candidate and won a 3rd term.
---The amendments I skipped are largely procedural, like giving 18-yr-olds the vote [#26].
So, what of the 17th Amendment, you may ask, and surely you are by now if you've read this far. What the hell are you on about now, TVD?
I think it's the difference between democracy and republicanism. Before the passage of the 17th, most states appointed their senators, by vote of the state legislature. Representative democracy via representative democracy. Republicanism.
Full story at Wiki, reasonably accurate.
Federalism, that senators were forced to be responsible to the concerns of their states, or at least those of their state legislatures. Devolvement of power, of demagoguery that's more suited to the House of Representatives, or just frustrating the will of the people by putting the pols in the state legislature in their way?
I don't have a clear and coherent opinion on this. I do know that a charismatic [or, wielding the power of incumbency] senator can win the popular vote most every time. By accumulating power and financial clout [contributions from outside his state], he can become invulnerable to election challenges, and accountability to the few in his state who actually pay attention to politics, and his record. No president enjoys such unaccountability to his constituents.
On the other hand, a senator is supposed to be a "cooling" force against the passions of the day. That's why James Madison---quite brilliantly in Federalist 63---set Senate terms at 6 years, even longer than the president's.
Anywayz, after poking through the history and the arguments, what I wanted to open is that "Repeal the 17th Amendment" isn't just swamp fever.
I thought Bill Clinton was a pretty good president. I don't think the question or clarion call will arise with President Obama, but mebbe we should repeal the 22nd, just in case another Bill Clinton shows up. As one wag once said, we could do worse, and often have.