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From the Track

We the people …

Kip Hamilton

(Sept, 2011) Why do we vote for both our senators and our representatives? That seems a bit redundant, doesn’t it? Well, it didn’t start out that way. The Founders were some pretty smart guys. They established our constitutional republic (not a democracy) with the understanding that the individual person was a free and autonomous being and thus would freely choose the individuals he’d prefer to represent him in the government, creating the House of Representatives.

As we have talked about before, the states used to be separate, sovereign bodies and it was the state governments that created the Federal Government through the drafting of our Constitution. The federal government was originally designed to be a support mechanism for the state governments, not the controlling bureaucracy that it has become. The Constitution was designed to limit the power of the federal government over the state governments, thereby protecting the liberty of the citizens. Ok, so what about the senators?

The senators were, from the late 1700’s to the early 1900’s chosen by the members of the state governments to represent the wishes of the states on a national level. The Founders actually designed a system which limited the need of the politicians to campaign for re-election. The Representatives were only elected for 2-year terms in order to make them more responsive to the desires of their constituents. If a representative started to neglect the wishes of the citizens who elected him and veer off on his own agenda, the voters could replace him fairly quickly…within a year or so. And the politicians knew it and this tended to keep them in line.

Since the state governments elected their own representatives, the Senators, to the national government there was no campaigning necessary at all for the Senate. The Founders appreciated the important role the senators played and they did not want their attention diverted from the task at hand while they spent time politicking for re-election. It was a beautiful system actually, because since the senators were appointed by the state legislatures, if the state governments determined that their senators were not performing their duties satisfactorily, they could simply recall them with no delay and send someone new to Washington… no muss, no fuss. Compare the responsiveness of those senators to the wishes of the representatives of the people to what we have today…the best government money can buy.

And so it went for almost the next 100 years until the predictable corruption in the state legislatures began. As the power of the senators began to rise during the early to mid 1800’s, since they were elected from the state governments, there was a corresponding rise in the power and influence dolled out by the party bosses at the state level. Political "machines" began to take hold and what once was a very pure exercise of political representation started to take on some very unsavory characteristics and a movement began to free the Senate from the slimy clutches of the corrupt state legislatures and have the senators chosen directly by the people.

It took a number of years, some say as many as 20 or more, depending on when you count the movement as starting, before the 17th Amendment to the Constitution was finally ratified in 1913, which directed that the Senators be elected by the people, instead of by the states. Coincidentally, 1913 was also when the grossly unconstitutional Federal Reserve Banking system was established. Modern day black helicopter-types might theorize if the two aren’t related. Interestingly, that was also the same year that Woodrow Wilson, whom some describe as the Father of the modern day Progressive Movement was elected President…oh, and…it was also the same year that the 16th Amendment to the Constitution was passed. Anyone remember what the 16th was responsible for?

"What is, the establishment of the Income Tax, Alex?" Correct. 1913 was a very busy year, it seems.

Has the 17th Amendment been a success or a failure? Well, are our Senators today more responsive to the people who elected them or to the lobbyists and special interest groups which make huge, regular contributions to the campaign coffers of the incumbent politicians, all but assuring that any new candidate who dares challenge the Professional Politician doesn’t stand a chance? Like I said…the best government money can buy.

So, are we hopeless? Honestly, I don’t know yet…maybe. Does this mean there is nothing we can do? Heck No! Our great country was founded on the principle of Liberty. It is still in us as a people. We have just become lazy and complacent politically and we now have multiple generations of citizens who have grown to care more about receiving their government-supplied handouts than their God-given, unalienable right to their personal liberty and freedom. We have got to rejuvenate the concept of doing for ourselves and for others, rather than waiting for some program from Washington to take care of us, for with that token benefit from the government comes an insidious control over the sovereign individual.

We did not get here in a couple of election cycles and it will take far longer to get out, but we have to start somewhere. We can start by electing city and township officials who promise to protect our liberty and freedoms from the tyranny of over-regulation and meddling in our daily lives by the county government. Then when that’s done, we elect county officials who will protect our liberties from the state-level tyranny and so on. The keys are 1) to start getting involved and 2) to hold the politicians accountable. If they renege on our contract, we fire them and find someone else. Remember, these guys work for us! This country really does belong to WE the People. Shall we work to get it back or shall we just turn on the TV? I fear we are quickly running out of time to make that decision.

Read other articles by Kip Hamilton