A fellow by the name of Caleb offered a different suggestion for creating better public involvement: instead of voting Senators in, have them appointed by the State Legislature as he asserted was the practice early on. (He couldn’t remember the reference but a friend of mine found it in the 17th amendment)
Hmmm. My first impression is that this approach would only concentrate power in the hands of the elite. Those that are poor, disenfranchised, etc, have no recourse but through public, statewide elections. Those that are in the state legislature have often a less directly connected, or directly vested interest in preserving these people’s rights and fulfilling their needs.
Having then read about the 17th amendment, it seems that to reverse it would be to return to easily corrupted election practices. It seems to me fairly reasonable that most States reserve the power to appoint Senators in between terms in the case of the death of a Senator. I’m sure, however, that it could bear further study.
Another friend of mine, Eric Meyer had this to say: “Well, the founders’ intention was that there would be a part of the legislative branch that would represent the interests of the state and one that would represent the interests of the people.” He further stated that it is often complained that the Federal government has taken too much power away from the States. I’m inclined to agree, although I’m not convinced that changing the way Senators are appointed or elected is a good solution.
Caleb’s reasoning was that if people knew that it would be their state legislature that would be the ones appointing those on the national Senate, then they would likely be more interested in who they chose for the State legislature, as well as current state issues. He further reasoned that we trust our local leaders more than we trust distant politicians, and national representatives. That may be true when we are familiar with them, but experience has taught me that we rarely are even aware of local issues and representatives at all.
I’d love it if it were true that people were interested in their communities in general. But I think that relegating things to the hands of our legislators is what we tend to do with things that we aren’t interested in. And the reverse would seem to be true as well– that when we relegate things to the hands of our legislators, we become less aware, and less interested in them.
And Caleb– if you’re reading this, please, tell me if I explained it wrong.