On April 28, Sen. Miller, the last genuinely conservative Democrat we will likely ever see in the Senate, laid the blame for what ails that august body at the door of the 17th amendment to the Constitution. This is the provision that provides for the popular election of senators.
Few people today know that the Founding Fathers never intended for senators to be popularly elected. The Constitution originally provided that senators would be chosen by state legislatures. The purpose was to provide the states — as states — an institutional role in the federal government. In effect, senators were to function as ambassadors from the states, which were expected to retain a large degree of sovereignty even after ratification of the Constitution, thereby ensuring that their rights would be protected in a federal system. The role of senators as representatives of the states was assured by a procedure, now forgotten, whereby states would “instruct” their senators how to vote on particular issues. Such instructions were not conveyed to members of the House of Representatives because they have always been popularly elected and are not expected to speak for their states, but only for their constituents.
When senators represented states as states, rather than being super House members as they are now, they zealously protected states’ rights.
Most regulars here are aware of this of course. I don’t think this would make my first day’s list as confidential Presidential advisor, or even second – that meeting with Greenspan is likely to take awhile as I was planning to invite the Mogambo Guru to provide color commentary – but, hey, let’s try it.