I’ve alluded several times to Mark Levin’s new book, The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic, and the strategy Levin lays out for retaking the American constitutional republic from the strangling, tyrannical grasp of the Washington Leviathan and the 100 year old Progressive assault on our liberties and the Constitution that purportedly guarantees them.
I’m going to give you a look, over the next several days, at his proposed amendments, and talk a bit about his thinking – and mine – on each of them.
If you want the whole discussion, complete with copious cites to the thinking of the Founders and Framers, buy the book. Which you really should do anyway.
Okay, let’s continue:
II. An Amendment to Restore the Senate
SECTION 1: The Seventeenth Amendment is hereby repealed. All Senators shall be chosen by their state legislatures as prescribed by Article I.
SECTION 2: This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.
SECTION 3: When vacancies occur in the representation of any State in the Senate for more than ninety days the governor of the State shall appoint an individual to fill the vacancy for more than ninety days the governor of the State shall appoint an individual to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term.
SECTION 4: A Senator may be removed from office by a two-thirds vote of the state legislature.
Most Americans, when they think of the term “checks and balances” in conjunction with their own government, think it refers to the relationships between and among the “Three Estates”: Congress, the Executive, and the Judiciary.
In fact, while the Framers designed these estates to in some ways check and balance each other, in the end they made the Congress by far the most powerful of the three, and established the most crucial check and balance between the House and the Senate which comprise that Congress.
Because, from the Framer’s point of view, the real balance of power in American governance was to be between the states and the federal government. The original federal government was entirely a creation of the states, and sprang from a convention called by the states.
Those men who represented their states in crafting the government delineated by the Constitution they wrote would today be appalled at how their work has been perverted to created the monstrous Leviathan of federal power under which what few liberties remain to us groan today.
Do you think the individual American states would have crafted a government that permitted a new federal power to rule over them entirely, render them utterly powerless and without influence in the federal halls of power, and reduce their role in national governance to that of pathetic beggars for federal crusts of bread, indeed, bread first stolen from them and then only grudgingly returned?
Of course not. And they did not. And had they been able to imagine such a perverted power grab, they would have taken further, and stronger, steps to prevent such a thing. But they did erect powerful barriers to it, barriers which became the immediate target of the Progressive anti-American, anti-Constitutional movement which arose in the late 19th and early 20th centuries under the Roosevelts and Woodrow Wilson.
A bit of Constitutional history:
The five Amendments to the Constitution following the Bill of Rights (which itself was designed to strengthen the powers of the people and the states against the federal power) and through the Civil War Amendments, were intended to further empower the states, clarify Presidential electoral procedures, or extend powers to the people. There were added in the approximately seventy years following the Bill of Rights, and no further Amendments were made until the great Progressive assault on that document and the forms of government it mandates was launched in the early part of the 20th century, more than forty years later.
The first great expansion of federal power involved permitting the federal government to collect income taxes. This was the door through which the federal government eventually created a system in which vast sums of wealth were sucked from the states, and then dangled as incentives requiring state submission to federal desires for partial return.
The second great expansion was to require the direct election of Federal Senators. This was crucial.
The Framers intended the House to be “The People’s House,” and made it the most powerful of all the organs of government, since they believed that ultimated the power of the state derived from the consent of the governed, and the House was intended to be the expression of that consent. But, ever fearful of the “tyranny of the majority,” sometimes called the “tyranny of the mob,” they created a second body of nearly equal power comprised of Senators directly responsible to the legislators of the several states, and not directly to the people. The intention was that while the House represented the people, the Senate represented the states – the two pillars upon which the federal government itself was to be constructed.
That barrier had to be destroyed in order to permit the natural demagoguery of the Progressive Movement – an elitist, top-down “populist” enterprise, to gain primacy for itself in the federal government. The direct election of the Senate allowed this to occur, and the power and influence of the states in the federal halls has been shrinking ever since, to the point that today the states have no real power or influence against their federal masters at all.
The solution is simple: Give the Senate back to the states. In the natural order of things, the power lusts of the state legislatures will once again balance the power lusts of the People’s Paladins in the House, and the progressive citadels now firmly embedded in the Executive departments.
We cannot have a federalist system of government when the states, the essential components of federalism, have no powers or influence. Relegatings states to the status of nothing more than “laboratories of democracy” is to castrate them in terms of any meaningful influence on the nation as a whole, or on the government which they originally created, not to rule over them, but to protect their powers, prerogatives, and liberties.
The first great assault against the federalist nature of our nation was the 17th Amendment. It is time to repeal it, and replace it with a Senate responsible, and responsive to, the states themselves. Nothing less will restore the federalist ideal the Framers espoused, nor better rein in the runaway Leviathan that is the federal government today.
The Framers created an intricately balanced clockwork of checks designed to protect the rights of both the people and the states. But, like any finely designed mechanism, it cannot work if you rip out half its guts. That was the effect of the 17th Amendment. It is well past time to remedy that injury. I strongly suggest that we do so.
The Levin Amendments: