Repeal The Seventeenth Amendment?

Massive electoral districts corrupt the Senate

As explained in Section Three of this web pamphlet, the root cause of corruption in the House of Representatives is the need to raise an incredible amount of money in order to finance political campaigns in massive congressional districts. It stands to reason that this problem would also extend to the Senate.

Because the senatorial races are statewide, the average senate district contains over 6.6 million people, which is nearly nine times that of the average House congressional district! It is therefore not surprising that Senators have a much greater need than Representatives to raise vast sums of money from PACs, corporations, and other Special Interest groups.

In 2020, there were 33 senatorial races (because only one-third of the 100 Senators is up for re-election every two years). During the 2019–2020 timeframe, over $2.1 billion dollars was raised for those 33 Senate races.1Source: source opensecrets.org This was even more than the total raised for all 435 House races! And bear in mind that this two-year total (2019 – 2020) represents only the final two years of a Senator’s six-year term – so presumably even more was raised by the incumbents during their term.

In addition, the “median amount of money raised between January 2019 and November 2020 by a sitting senator running for reelection in 2020 was $13.2 million — the equivalent of about $19,100 per day. That was far more than senators who were not up for reelection this year”.2IssueOne.org: Seven numbers to know about the campaign money that flowed to House and Senate members in 2020

It is therefore not surprising that of the 31 incumbents seeking reelection, 26 were successful (84%), despite the fact that there were 206 challengers for all 31 of those races.3Source: opensecrets.org Unfortunately, unlike the congressional districts, these statewide districts cannot be downsized to reduce their need for campaign donations. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to eliminate this problem.

As it turns out, the need for Senatorial candidates to raise so much money was created when the 17th Amendment was ratified in 1913. The 17th Amendment requires that the Senators be popularly elected rather than be appointed by their states’ legislatures (as was required by the Constitution). Therefore, regardless of whatever benefits that the 17th amendment is thought to have, repealing it would be the most effective way to eliminate the need for 33 senatorial candidates to personally raise over $2 billion every two years.

Though the popular election of Senators was originally expected to be beneficial to the citizenry, the evidence indicates that the Senators are effectively being selected by the powerful Special Interests rather than being truly elected by the people. Imagine how much more time the Senators would have to focus on their important jobs if they did not have to campaign and beg for money!

© Thirty-Thousand.org [Article Updated 02/01/22]

17th Amendment Pro & Con:

LA Times: “Why we have, and should keep, the 17th Amendment”
National Review: “Repeal the Seventeenth Amendment”

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