Simulating Repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment
A lot of people at Redstate have supported the idea of repealing the Seventeenth Amendment, so that U.S. Senators would again be chosen by the respective state legislatures. One of the likely benefits of repealing the Seventeenth Amendment would be that U.S. Senators would no longer be spending huge amounts of time raising money for campaigns, and would no longer be beholden to special interests; they would merely have to convince state legislators to support them. Still, it seems very unlikely that the Seventeenth Amendment will actually be repealed any time soon, because amending the U.S. Constitution is very difficult and requires two-thirds majorities in both houses of Congress (unless a constitutional convention is called). Fortunately, there may be an easy way to simulate many of the beneficial results of repealing the Seventeenth Amendment.
Congress could pass a law inviting every state legislature to identify its two or three favorite candidates for any open U.S. Senate seat. If a state legislature does so, then Congress could provide public financing for those favorite candidates.
As Brad Smith has described, the Supreme Court’s recent decision on campaign finance will likely lead to increased support for public financing of congressional campaigns. Conservatives ought to support such efforts at least to the extent that they simulate repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment.
Recall that President Obama became the first major-party presidential nominee since Watergate to turn down public financing for his presidential campaign. I think Obama was wrong about that, especially because he broke his own promise to accept public financing. Hopefully, Congress will maintain continued public financing of U.S. Presidential campaigns, and begin public financing of U.S. Senate campaigns in a way that simulates repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment.