Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Ixnay on the Eventeenthsay!!!1!

Man. I stop reading blogs for a couple of weeks, and ... whoa:

Two recent Tea Party-backed candidates who had success in beating Washington-designated candidates are quite taken with the idea of repealing the 17th amendment. Ratified in 1913, it provides for the direct election of U.S. senators. Previously, state legislatures chose the senators. Lots of logistical problems resulted, but you could fairly attribute the popular constitutional amendment to the Progressive movement and to political entrepreneurs in the press. Well, newly-minted Republican nominee for Idaho's first congressional district Raul Labrador wants to repeal the amendment.

As TalkingPointsMemo notes, "Supporters of the plan say that ending the public vote for Senators would give the states more power to protect their own interests in Washington (and of course, give all of us "more liberty" in the process.) As their process of 'vetting' candidates, some tea party groups have required candidates to weigh in on the idea of repeal in questionnaires."

It's become a part of the Tea Party orthodoxy, now. Being not sure about the amendment, or not knowing why the heck anyone would want to tinker with direct election of senators, marks you with the stink of the establishment. That's what Labrador's opponent, Vaughn Ward, found out when he flip-flopped in the issue.

Indeed, a U.S. senator might be elected with similar views; Tim Bridgewater was one of the two Tea Party-backed candidates to beat Robert Bennett at the Utah Republican convention a few weeks ago. He also supports a repeal of the mechanism that would probably put him in office.

Here is something I don't think Republican strategists in Washington...many of them, anyway, understand about conservative voters now. Their discontent with the party is NOT about ideology. It is, quite simply, about them. The consultants. The leaders. The people who were NOT able to prevent Obama from becoming president. The people who were NOT able to prevent health care from being signed into law, despite promising that it wouldn't be. The people who fed the bailout engine. So ideas that seem extreme and bizarre to the powers that be might be more accepted by discontented voters simply because the mainstream forces consider them to be extreme.

I'm not sure I agree with the concluding paragraph completely, but as to the facts: The idea that a supposed populist movement that has spent the past year yelling about "back-room deals" thinks the way to better the country is to take away the popular vote and, uh, return to back-room deals is nothing short of … well, I don't even have a word.

Take it away, Cypress Hill.

(h/t: DougJ | x-posted)

[Added] Follow-up here.


ex DLB said...

No smoke filled room would have ever put Rand Paul in a position to be a senator either, I would think.

They likely would want to repeal all amendments except the second. Especially get rid of the 22nd so that zombie Reagan could come back and defeat the usurper Obama.

Brendan said...

Huh, I dunno about "never." The one rational explanation I can make for this push by the teabaggers is the following. If you realize that, apart maybe from presidential elections, the American electorate is generally apathetic about voting, and that midterms and primaries and elections for pretty much any office below the level of the presidency are decided by the most rabid of our citizenry, then you can imagine why the teabaggers want to go back to a system where the state legislatures pick the US Senators: because they take the long view, because they're motivated to do politics and nothing else, they are convinced that they can put into place a body of electors, as it were, that will in turn pick the candidate that they want. And fuck the other 80-95% of the population, even of that state.

Therefore, though I make fun of the teabaggers at the superficial level of their wanting deals done in the proverbial smoke-filled back rooms after they have spent the last year plus howling about this very thing, my real fear is that this is exactly what they want.

Remember that all successful revolutions and coups have been engineered, ultimately, by a few zealously committed people.