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Senate, O'Senate - does thou election process benefit us?



By Greg Mattison, Samuel’s Mission and Greg Spehar, Federalist 2.0 (August 31st, 2022)


Originally, at our founding, each State Legislature appointed two Senators to Congress. This was part of a compromise with the smaller states. In order for the smaller states to agree to signing the Constitution, they needed security that the larger states would not dominate congress. Larger states objected and wanted the Senate to be based on population, just like the U.S. House of Representative. Smaller states thought that their concerns would not be addressed if both legislative houses were based on population, so a compromise was made to ensure that all thirteen colonies would agree and sign the Constitution.


Additional structures were developed to allow corrective measures if the society decided there were political mistakes. The House, for example, which was thought to be closer to the people, and easiest to change, would have two-year terms, while the Senate would have six-year staggered terms. The Senate was thought to be more deliberative and would move slower, thoroughly debate the issues, to reduce the impact of emotions or rush to judgment, and with elected Senate members from the state Legislature, the idea they would be more tempered and even minded was assumed. Only the U.S. House originally was determined by a vote of the people in that State. With the other two branches of government, The President (Executive Branch) was elected through the Electoral College and the Judicial Branch was nominated by the President and approved in the Senate. In this structure are the means to leverage the majority to select the most qualified to lead the nation with the citizen’s concerns in tow. But does the current election process support this, does it benefit us, the citizens of the US?

Filibusters


The term “filibuster originated from the 18th-century word, “flibustier” which literally means “freebooter” – that is, a pirate or plunderer. The Senate originally would debate Bills, sometimes endlessly to the frustration of the President. In 1805 President Arron Burr declared that the “Senate need not be burdened by too many procedural rules”. The process to end debate on legislation was known as the “Previous Questionmotion and was seldom actually used. In 1806 the Senate dropped this type of motion. In 1837 a group of Senators from the Whig Party had the first successful filibuster. The filibuster was President Andrew Jackson trying to get a censure against him expunged, he failed of course. It is important to note that the House of Representative does not have a filibuster rule

In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson pressured the Senate to create Senate Rule 22 formalizing the filibuster process. Woodrow Wilson wanted to arm merchant ships supplying Europe in WW1. Rule 22 authorized a two-thirds vote (67 votes) in the Senate to invoke “Cloture” to end debate on legislation. This was known as a super majority. This process limited debate to a final 30 hours of debate. In 1975, the Senate changed Rule 22 to require on 60 votes to invoke cloture.


Originally, a filibuster involved a Senator standing up and speaking as long as they could, with no breaks allowed. In the early 1970’s the Senate changed the filibuster rule to eliminate the standing and speaking to filibuster, they were allowed to put a verbal hold on legislation. The filibuster is not in the Constitution, it is a Senate rule and is subject to change. One of the most notable examples of this process being used was in 1967 when a group of Southern Democrats tried to filibuster the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But the Republican Party enabled a supermajority vote and was able to end the debate and pass the Bill.

The Senators, from our founding in 1787 until 1913 were appointed by each state’s legislature. This made Senators accountable directly to their State Legislatures. It was thought that only honorable men (yes, originally it was only men - women weren’t allowed to vote.) of good sound judgement, experience and moral character, who were known to the Legislatures, would be selected and accountable to represent the State.


In 1913, the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. This Amendment changed how the Senators would be elected. Instead of each state appointing their Senators, the people in each state would elect the Senators, just like the U.S. House Representatives. The two Senators from each state would be elected on a state-wide basis, not via districts as with the Representatives.


One of the challenges with the 17th Amendment is in many cases, a candidate for Senate, can raise large amounts (sometime the vast majority) of their campaign funds from sources outside their own state. This will put in question where the Senator’s loyalties reside. If a large majority of the Senators’ (or candidates) election funds come from outside the state they represent, they may not legislate in that state’s interest. They could be subservient to outside forces or special interest groups, which may be counter to their state voters’ wishes.

This can also aid in the high re-election rate (95%). Incumbents may no longer represent their voters not to mention becoming forgetful or have diminished faculties as they age. Special Interest money can and usually does affect a Senator’s vote. The people may no longer be considered in the equation and human inequities may override sound judgement. These conditions also exist in the House of Representative and could be a good argument for term limits, which is one of the three Amendments in the Article V Convention of States movement. www.conventionofstates.com


So, it is clear, the original intent for the Senate and how it would operate has been broken and with these new processes;Senators no longer focus on the benefits to their own state’s citizens but have a tendency to cater to special interest groups that fund their election to the masses. Without term limits and with the right level of coercion amongst the population many Senators can survive for many decades in their Senate position.


The Recommended Solution


Repeal the 17th Amendment and let the Legislatures once again select honorable candidates for Senate. The amendment process is not easy, nor should it be, but it can be done. Adding new amendments must first be approved by the Congress then the Archivist of the United States, who heads the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), is charged with the responsibility for administering the ratification process under 1U.S.C 105b. The Archivist has delegated many of the ministerial duties associated with this function of the Director of the Federal Register. Neither Article V of the Constitution nor section 106b describe the ratification process in detail.


The Archivist and the Director of Federal Register follow procedures and customs established by the Secretary of State, who performed these duties until 1950, and the Administrator of General Services, who served in this capacity until NARA assumed responsibility as an independent agency in 1985. A new process needs to be considered in the months and years ahead as we realize the current structure is not functioning at the level that it needs to to serve the citizens in the country. It’s clear over the last 20 years special interest groups don’t have to only be companies that become powerful and strategically aligned to influence politics, but other countries can infiltrate and influence the electoral process.


The Constitutional Amendment Process


The Constitution provides that an amendment may be proposed either by Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both House of Representatives and Senate or by a Constitutional Convention (see above) called for by two-thirds of the State Legislatures. None of the 27 amendments of the Constitution have been proposed by a Constitutional Convention. The Congress proposes an amendment in the form of a joint resolution. Since the President does not have a constitutional role in the amendment process, the joint resolution does go to the White House for signature or approval. The original document is forwarded directly to NARA’s Office of the Federal Register (OFR) for processing and publication. The OFR also assembles an information package for the States which includes formal “red-line” copies of the joint resolution, copies of the joint resolution in slip law format, and the statutory procedure for ratification under 1U.S.C 106b.

The Archivist submits the proposed amendment to the States for their consideration by sending a letter of notification to each Governor along with the informational material prepared by the OFR. The Governors then formally submit the amendment to their State Legislatures or the state call for convention, depending on what Congress has specified. When a State ratifies a proposed amendment, it sends the Archivist an original or certified copy of the State action, which is immediately conveyed to the Director of the Federal Register. The OFR examines ratification documents for facial legal sufficiency and an authenticating signature. If the documents are found to be in good order, the Director acknowledges receipt and maintains custody of them. The OFR retains these documents until an amendment is adopted or fails, and then transfers the records to the National Archives for preservation.

A proposed amendment becomes part of the Constitution as soon as it is ratified by three-fourths of the states (38 out of 50 today). When the OFR verifies that it has received the required number of authenticated ratification documents, it drafts a formal proclamation for the Archivist to certify that the amendment is valid and has become part of the Constitution. This certification is published in the Federal Register and the U.S. Statutes at Large and serves as official notice to the Congress and to the Nation that the amendment process has been complete.[1]


From this process we begin to see the actual method to change the constitution, in our case for the repeal of the 17th amendment, would seem to be a most difficult path through Congress. In particular, what we’re doing with the repeal of the 17th amendment is pulling power away from the Senate, so it’s clear those that are in the Senate, that benefit from the current rules, will be the most likely to be against such changes. Finally, the actual process is laborious, tedious and requires significant amount of politicians from the House of Representatives and from the Senate topaz’s this change.

So it becomes clear and inevitably correct that the best and quickest and most efficient process for this change will be through a convention of states. Where the 38 states will review and ratify through their legislature the new amendments. We the people have endured over 100 years (From 1913) of a slow and methodical takeover from special interests both internal and abroad and that has led us to a potential demise through an expansion of our debt, anovertake of our economy and an infiltration into our culture. If we are to see to it for our near future and our posterity for a United States to remain sovereign these changes are, at a minimum, required for that success.

[1] Constitutional Amendment Process provide by www.archieves.gov

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