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How to elect senators?
Saturday, May 24, 2014 5:00 AM
To the editor:
I enjoyed reading the letter published by The Madison Courier concerning the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. While Ms. Vetrhus glossed over the main players in the amendment process and the history behind its final passage, it made a good tale. I would refer her to a GOOGLE search for 17th Amendment for more information.
There should be serious thought given to the unintended consequences of changing the method of choosing senators. Prior to the passage of the 17th Amendment, senators were chosen by the state legislatures and were beholding to state-based groups such as voters, state political parties, banks, industry, religious groups, railroads, and so forth.
Now, senators are chosen for a six year term by a statewide popular vote and after going to Washington for a time become beholding to Washington based lobbying groups representing corporations, environmentalists, political groups left/right and so forth.
With terms of six years, senators can appear in their states infrequently to "press the flesh" and get "facetime" locally and generally beat back challenges. This is not always the case as evidenced by Evan Bayh and his return to Indiana.
The question I would like to pose is whether it is better for a senator be influenced by state groups or Washington groups. We recently had a longtime and beloved senator who was not a resident of the State of Indiana for years after he was elected to the Senate. This fact was unknown to the electorate. Did he represent the interests of Indiana or the interests of the friends and others he associated with on a daily basis in Washington? He was and is not a bad man but it appears that he transferred his representation from Indiana to a national entity.
If the Indiana Attorney General is proposing a process to repeal the 17th Amendment, I would say do it now. If we are going to have our elected officials influenced, better it be done here in Indiana. Here we can put pressure on local representatives to make better choices. We have little or no influence in Washington and are not likely to gain more in the future.
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