The idea of State Rights has long been neglected by our representatives in Congress and this neglect has allowed the federal government to grow like a malignant tumor. In the anti-Federalist paper, Brutus XII, we read, “that this constitution,… will not be a compact entered into by states,… but an agreement of the people of the United States, as one great body politic,… The courts therefore will establish it as a rule in explaining… as will best tend to perfect the union or take from the state governments every power of either making or executing laws.”
Brutus’ pamphlet, published on February 07, 1788, was an accurate projection and his fears have become reality in our lifetimes.
Our republican government refers to two things:
- the origin of the powers of a government (the people), and
- the manner in which these powers are exercised (via representation).
James Madison said that “we may define a republic to be … a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices…, for a limited period…” This is why we see Greg Walden thrashing so fiercely for the status quo — he enjoys his long tenure in D.C., something our founders would not have imagined.
James Madison also cleared the air with regard to democratic rule, stating, “Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property.” Fisher Ames added, “The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness which the ambitious call, and ignorant believe to be liberty.”
My position on the 17th Amendment
Today, the federal government has gorged itself on power and is wielding that power indiscriminately. The only solution strong enough comes from the U.S. Constitution. Our founding fathers had a better understanding of natural law than we do, despite our technological modernity.
Our nation’s framers understood and agreed with Lord Acton’s observation that, “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Thomas Jefferson noted that good government is properly effected through the dispersion of power not through the concentration of power.
Therefore, the first line of defense for maintaining “free and independent states” comes from the states themselves. Each state has a unique population demographic and natural resources, with differing interests and perspectives regarding program priorities. The federal government should not be entangled in these local interests. In the 2nd District we experience this continually: the Feds have successfully intruded into what should be local resource management affairs. The Federal government can then use the power of the purse (AKA, the printing press) to buy allegiance to their own bureaucratic and administrative interests.
For the past 100 years we have been slowly losing our rights. We have allowed the federal bureaucracy to discount and absorb our state’s specific interests. As a result, we hardly know how to weigh these issues from our state’s perspective.
My question is, why is returning to state-chosen, state-focused Senators so scary?
- What is it about the 17th Amendment that makes people think a state-oriented focus would be detrimental to our national well-being?
- Is it because some states want more federal tax money poured into their unique projects?
- Is it because your current congressman wants to sponsor corporate crony interests with taxpayer subsidies and loan guarantees?
Over-arching federal control has stolen the dialog and removed our focus from our local community and our local control. Greg Walden likes the status quo. He knows that I, as one man, cannot change the 17th Amendment and that this is a conversation about philosophy and ideas. However, this discussion scares Rep. Walden because it is an argument for state leadership and power instead of an impenetrable regulatory authority housed 3,000 miles away. Your current Representative is afraid to even discuss the potential changes which might diminish his own personal power.
Earlier this year Lawrence W. Reed commented on the progressive nature of the anachronisms that Greg Walden fully endorses:
“Without the 16th and 17th Amendments and the Federal Reserve, it’s inconceivable that the federal government could have grown from less than five percent of GDP in 1913 to nearly 25 percent in 2013. Were it not for those three gremlins, how many fewer trillions might our unconscionable national debt be? The toll on our liberties is also incalculable but surely considerable.”