My name is Glen Bradley, candidate for the North Carolina State House of Representatives in District 49. If I may, I would like to respond to an editorial which appeared in your publication on September 10th, 2010 from Kevin Siers entitled: “Repealing amendments? Don’t laugh. It’s an issue”
Mr. Siers took issue with me due to my support for repealing the 17th Amendment to the US Constitution, ratified in 1913, which established the popular election of US Senators as opposed to the former practice of US Senators being elected by the State Legislatures. Mr. Siers indicated that a voters support or opposition to the 17th Amendment should determine who they elect on November 2nd.
Let’s set aside for the moment the fact that a single member of the North Carolina State House has pretty much zero influence on the process to amend the US Constitution, the fact that our priorities will necessarily be weighted in favor of restoring jobs and a healthy economy to our great State, and the fact that given the history of the NC State Legislature such an amendment would likely guarantee Democratic Senators in North Carolina for the next century, and address the issue of the 17th Amendment itself.
The 17th Amendment was ratified in response to corruption which allowed potential Senators to buy their way into seats in the US Senate. Mr Siers referred to Rod Blagojevich auctioning off President Obama’s former Senate Seat. Even in his own example, Mr Siers acknowledged that Mr Blagojevich is the “EX” governor who is facing some serious charges of corruption today. Clearly his attempt to corrupt the process has resulted in dire consequences — the sort of consequences which simply do not manifest against our current Kingmakers on the corporate and special interest lobbies.
Prior to the 17th Amendment, the Legislatures which elected Senators were answerable to their constituents via popular election. Those who corrupted the process were likely to find themselves out of a job once the next election rolled around. Today, Senators are chosen more by lobbyists than by the electorate. Our Senators have a 95% incumbent reelection rate, and to a degree of about 98% whichever candidate spends the most money, wins. The money is controlled by lobbyists for big corporate and special interest concerns like Bank of America, Haliburton, Monsanto, and Glaxo-Smith-Kline. The primary accomplishment of the 17th Amendment was to replace State Legislatures whom we could replace, with corporate CEO’s whom we cannot.
It may be counterintuitive, but the 17th Amendment was one of the primary methods by which the Founders vision of the sovereign citizen has been replaced by an all-powerful centralized Federal Government.
When we ratified the US Constitution on September 17th 1789, the individual citizen was considered supreme. This was the major difference in the American form of government — the individual citizen was the supreme sovereign, and we citizens got together to delegate some of our sovereign powers to the States, and then those States got together to delegate some of their sovereign powers to the Federal Government. The Founders vision of Federalism placed the individual citizen on top, the State governments beneath them, and the Federal Government at the bottom. This led to the American form of liberty that was unique to the world in all of history, which led to Americans having a completely unprecedented degree of freedom and prosperity.
Today, the Federal Government is on top, and they dictate to the States what they are and are not allowed to do, and the States dictate to the people what we are and are not allowed to do. We have fallen back into the very trap of tyranny which we fought a Revolution to extricate ourselves from.
Clearly, looking at abuses such as “The Nebraska Purchase” where sitting Senators are bought and sold for their votes, and the lobbyist to reelection ratio of 95%, one must conclude that the US Senate is just as corrupt today as it was when William Clark purchased his Senate election at $10,000 a head. The 17th Amendment did not accomplish it’s stated purpose. In fact, it has made things worse.
Now, instead of the sovereign citizen and a delegated Federal Government, we have a sovereign Federal government and an indentured citizenry. Now, instead of having the ability to vote the bums out of our State Legislatures and remove a corrupt Senator, we would need to purchase a controlling interest in Bank of America to reign in the lobbyists and control the cash they use to purchase the election of Senators. If anything, the corruption has grown worse, more subtle, and more difficult to remove in the wake of the passage of the 17th Amendment.
Blagojevich is facing prison time, while the CEO’s of Wachovia and DuPont make toasts to one another on the golf course. I for one would rather trust the selection of Senators to people whom we can imprison for malfeasance than to people who are simply untouchable without half a billion dollars in cash.
Nevertheless, the bottom line is that there is simply not enough of a popular movement to make this an issue in the first place, and in the second place, a single NC State Legislator has no influence to affect this even if I wanted to, and third, a Republican legislature would never agree to any plan that permanently established Democratic Senators in North Carolina. It’s probably not going to happen in your lifetime or mine, and we should stick to the the issues that are actually relevant to this election, like jobs growth, economic recovery, and excellence in education.
Thank you sincerely,
Candidate for NC State House District 49