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Joe Miller: I'd back repeal of 17th amendment

In a town hall meeting Monday night, Joe Miller (R) said he wanted to end direct election of senators -- even as he campaigns to be elected senator in Alaska. The Fairbanks News Miner reports:

He called the idea of a living, changing Constitution "bullcrap," and said he would support an amendment for term limits as well as an amendment repealing the 17th Amendment, which allows for the direct election of senators by the public rather than by state legislatures.

Democrats have tried to make tea party candidates' support for repealing the 17th Amendment has an issue in some races. The idea is that giving state legislatures more power would keep senators attuned to local interests. But the idea has caused consternation among conservatives, not all of whom would give up some of their voting power.

By Rachel Weiner  | October 5, 2010; 5:20 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Election, 44 The Obama Presidency  
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Comments

The proposal to let state legislatures choose US senators is fundamentally a bad idea. First, it basically claims that the voters are poor judges of their respective states' interests. If that is true, then we shouldn't let them elect governors or state legislatures either. Second, voter participation in US Senate races is usually higher than it is in state legislative elections, so the proposal would inflate the power of low turnout elections. Third, voters typically know more about US Senate candidates than they do about state legislative candidates, so we would inflate the power of low information elections. The proposal is a bad idea all around. It speaks volumes about Mr. Miller's judgement and about his view of voters (something along the lines of "contempt" seems to capture it).

Posted by: dnice1 | October 6, 2010 11:39 PM | Report abuse

The teabaggers just keep getting crazier & crazier...what next, repeal the 13th, 14th, & 15th Amendments??? Empty-headed fools!!!

Posted by: NMguy1 | October 6, 2010 9:26 PM | Report abuse

If Senators are selected by the legislature instead of duly elected by the people, they could turn the Senate into a private club for them and their chronies.

Sick idea.


Posted by: lindalovejones | October 6, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

I thought the Republicans were supposed to be coming up with a plan of how to create more jobs faster.

Instead, Joe Miller is trying to come up with a scheme of how to become a United States Senator without being duly elected.


Posted by: lindalovejones | October 6, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

The 17th Amendment should and ought to be repealed. Like prohibition, it is an amendment that has failed in its intended purpose. All the silly, non-sense arguments about bribes other scandals and scurrilous name calling and baiting by some of the comments, notwithstanding and examination of the facts reveals that the 17th Amendment has done more harm than good. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons that the 17th Amendment ought to be repealed is that the power between the states and federal government needs to be restored. As envisioned by our founding fathers, the states were an integral part of the government. There was balance between the needs of the Federal government and states and the people with the courts as mediator. The Senators represented the interests of the states. The 17th Amendment took the States out of the governing equation. Once senators became elected by the people, it placed all the governing power into the hands of the Federal Government. That was a terrible thing to do. Hey, if you don't like Obamacare, blame the 17th Amendment. Don't like the fact that we went into Iraq? Blame the 17th Amendment. Don't like deficits and the difficulty of getting a Constitutional Amendment through the Senate, blame the 17th Amendment. Oh yeah, bemoan the high cost of the election of Senators? Blame the 17th Amendment.

Posted by: WriterDude | October 6, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Here is a very good reason the 17th Amendment should never be repealed.

Do you recall the recent story of the reclusive 104-year-old Huguette Clark, the daughter of William A. Clark, senator and copper king from Montana? Her father was selected by the Montana legislature to be the Senator from Montana. In 1899, scandal erupted when it was discovered he bribed members of the legislature to appoint him the senator. He had to resign in shame. That alone is the best reason to keep the 17th amendment. It is entirely too plausible one could bribe or buy the members of a much smaller legislative body. We have enough trouble keeping them honest- to give them that much power is unthinkable. Clark is one of the reasons the 17th was necessary.

Alaskans- I don't care if you elect McAdams or Murkowski at this point. Anybody but Miller. He is certifiably nuts.

Posted by: alaskan2 | October 6, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Miller has proven one thing...he is as nutty as the person who helped him win the primary...you guessed it "Sarah, it's all about me, Palin".

Posted by: meyer390 | October 6, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Somebody ought to let Joe Miller know that "change" and "amend" are synonyms. But then he wouldn't be a true teabagger if he didn't contradict himself. Eventually, those contradictions will be the death of the tea party as more and more people call them out.

Posted by: kago | October 6, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

These guys are getting so hilarious that I'm inclined to say that we just need to go back to the original constitution that was signed by the original 13 colonies and be done with the rest. The rest of you across the "fake USA" can go on back to France, Spain, Russia, Mexico, or where ever else you came from(we'll just sell you back at the original price we paid for you). Obtaining your territory wasn't in our original Constitution either.

Posted by: Sherry91 | October 6, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Oh, please! The conservative idea to repeal the 17th Amendment isn't that having the legislature select the Senators will make them more attuned to state interests---and what does that have to do with the US Congress, anyway?---but because 50,60, or 100 members of a State senate are easier to buy off than the electorate of an entire state. This is a pro-corruption initiative, pure and simple.

Posted by: Canary503 | October 6, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

So let's see now, Joe Miller wants to repeal the 17th Amendment to the Constitution because the idea of a living changing constitution is "bullcrap." Even though there is a provision in the constitution for making amendments.
Yet at the same time he supports an amendment for term limits. I see. No paradox in that view.
I wonder, if he thinks the living changing concept is "bullcrap," does he also support the re-imposition of slavery (repeal of the 13th Amendment)? Maybe we could then declare that a Black person is only worth 3/5 of a White person (see Article II, Section 1, clause 3).
How about denying the right of women to vote (repeal of the 19th Amendment)? Then we could get Sarah and Hillary to both go home and be house makers, like God intended them to be.
Just wondering...

Posted by: jfp585 | October 6, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Is this another case, ala Alan Grayson, where Miller's comments are parsed and taken out of context? Good grief, what is wrong with returning governing power to the states who virtually have none now. People would still vote at the state level and it could cause them to take more interest in their local governments in general. This in conjunction with term limits might just put an end to career senators with their high salaries and luscious pensions and their entitlement to office (ala Murkowski). Ought to cost a lot less in campaigning, too. Just a few thoughts before everybody throws the baby out with the bathwater.

Posted by: Cynic007 | October 6, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Has Joe Miller gone on a bender and gotten drunk on the "Strict Constructionist" wine? Repeal the 17th Amendment? Seriously?

I realize the Founders on Mt. Olympus didn't approve of lowly citizens electing their senators... but then they weren't too fond of women voting either. Is that next on the tea party agenda? Are these folks that far around the bend?

New bumper stickers for the Miller campaign:

"Vote for Me and I'll Make Sure It's Your Last!"

Posted by: B2O2 | October 6, 2010 1:54 AM | Report abuse

It is ironic that the populist Tea Party movement wants to revoke the amendment that allowed for a greater extension of liberty and representation by the people. State Governments then and even now can end up being private cabals where familys/interests can exert incredible control. . Prior to the 17th amendment the tales of corruption as to the appointment of Senators was legendary. The arc of Justice in this country has moved from the original intent of the framers who were somewhat fearful of a French Revolution Style rule of the mob and thus created a representative form of government where the only directly elected official was the House Member to direct elections where everyone can vote. That is a good thing. Hey, if you want to give more power to the states why not repeal the 15th amendment to while youre at it. No need to burden the states with the requirement of providing equal protection and due process to all their citizens, My God lets reinstate the poll tax to while we are at it. And what right does the Federal Government have to impose its will on the states and force them to allow women to vote as well.

Posted by: richdys | October 6, 2010 1:29 AM | Report abuse

cleancut77 wrote:
As a conservative I find his disdain for the flexible nature of the Constitution more troubling. The founders were wise enough to know what was good for them in the 1780s may not be the best thing for the country in 1880.
Also what's wrong the people voting for their senators instead of state legislatures picking them?
___________________
Full disclosure first: I'm a centrist, not a conservative like cleancut.

But cleancut has it right. The Constitution isn't and deliberately wasn't intended to be utterly immutable. It IS hard to change, and maybe that's good (I'm inclined to think so . . .), but unchangeable it isn't. Jefferson once opined that we should throw out the Constitution and do it over every generation or two.

Those who declare that they clearly know the Founders' intentions are smoking wacky backy in the first place. And when those persons go on to declare that we must do things the way our late 18th-century ancestors (elitists, BTW, virtually to a man . . .) did it, they've just beamed to another galaxy.

While the idea of repealing the 17th actually appeals to me NOW here in West Virginia--Joe Manchin, a popular and effective governor, would certainly be overwhelmingly elected by the state legislature and would defeat the slimy John Raese (an odious slug somewhat to the right of Attila the Hun)--I think that popular election of senators is a strong net plus over time. Joe Miller actually wants to disenfranchise people? No thanks, Joe.

Posted by: post_reader_in_wv | October 5, 2010 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Democracy has its flaws but nothing in comparison with having State legislatures appoint U.S. Senators.

What's the matter with these goobers? Do they fear the public? Are they only happy with back-room deals out of the eyes of the electorate?

Posted by: WhateverHeSaid | October 5, 2010 11:09 PM | Report abuse

I guess this is what passes for intelligence in the Republican party. If it weren't so dangerous, this sort of lunacy would be amusing.

Oh, and by the way, Joe, without capital, you wouldn't have to many rights in the original conception of the Constitution. Being a good little foot soldier would have been about all you could aspire to. Wait a minute, that's right, that is what you are...

Posted by: rgv1129 | October 5, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

Joe Wilson should get a job posing for the jacket covers of Romance novels. He apparently thinks his beard makes him look macho, until he opens his mouth and ridicules Americans who work like dogs for scrapes from greedy business owners.
Joe doesn't want these people collecting unemployment because he obviously thinks they are too lazy to work. Joe doesn't include himself sucking off the government teat with his free West Point education, and his GI bill and VA care. He only sees himself as worthy of whatever he can get out of the government.
Joe is a hypocrite much like Palin and Gingrich and the rest of the lazy bums, and he is less intelligent than Joe(not his name)the non-Plumber.
When you campaign for federal office your objective should be to serve and defend all of your nation's citizens. Joe only wants to defend his own likes and dislikes and believes only he should get the benefits of government welfare. Poor Joe, he really does hate his fellow Americans.

Posted by: papafritz571 | October 5, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Poor Joe, he's so dumb one wonders how he got into West Point. Probably lower standards these days.

If Joe is so worried about the constitution he should call for repeal of the unconstitutional Patriot Act, Homeland Security, and Illegal Spying. All of these programs are directed at American citizens to remove their rights. They are Republican programs though.

Posted by: Maddogg | October 5, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

I hate to break the bad news to Joe Miller, but neither Kansas nor Alaska were part of the colonies at the time of the Constitution. ... In any event, even if we include the Bill of Rights, Joe Miller is not a citizen of the states who agreed to the Constitution.

Posted by: MinnyMa
-------------
Oh no. Does that mean the Birther Movement says Mr. Miller was not born in the original 13 states. There goes Ronald Reagan, too.

Posted by: pjohn2 | October 5, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

I would support repeal of the 17th amendment as well. The senate was intended to represent the States while the House was to represent The People. As it is we have been turning the Senate into another House of Representatives.

A unicameral Congress would be even worse than the current situation. Under a unicameral Congress the only people that would matter would be those coming from high population areas. Politicians would simply pander to the major cities and ignore anyone in the rural areas.

The bicameral Congress combined with the State appointment of Senators was intended to prevent the tyranny of the majority and to give each state a say in how thise union is run.

Posted by: BradG | October 5, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Well, there are two sides to this argument, and each has some traction.

If you read any good history about our Constitutional Convention, you will find that the Authors debated long and hard to come up with the compromise that created our bicameral legislature. In the original design, the Senate, as the upper house, was designed to represent States, and make those divisions permanently important in our national discourse. In effect, this makes Wyoming as important as California, in spite of Wyoming having no population or economy. Very undemocratic.

The XVII Amendment calls for direct election of Senators, which makes the vote of a Wyoming resident about 75 times more important than a California resident. Also very undemocratic.

On a practical level, elections cost money even in small, unpopulated states. Who pays for those elections in Wyoming or Montana or Alaska? Those are the constituents of the Senators elected, not the people. Also, folks tend to vote for the best parades, not the best candidates. This gives us astronauts, baseball players, comedians, and now possibly lunatics, sitting in the US Senate, the most powerful legislative branch.

When State legislatures appointed Senators, they were conscious of not wanting to bring embarrassment to their States, and usually sent highly competent statesmen to the office. Our history books mention many great men in our Senate, but only until we started electing them. Do you suppose there is a connection?

Of one thing, I am certain... Joe Miller would NEVER be a Senator, if the position were appointed, so he should be very careful what wishes he makes.

Posted by: OldUncleTom | October 5, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

I would support repeal of the 17th amendment as well. The senate was intended to represent the States while the House was to represent The People. As it is we have been turning the Senate into another House of Representatives.

A unicameral Congress would be even worse than the current situation. Under a unicameral Congress the only people that would matter would be those coming from high population areas. Politicians would simply pander to the major cities and ignore anyone in the rural areas.

The bicameral Congress combined with the State appointment of Senators was intended to prevent the tyranny of the majority and to give each state a say in how thise union is run.

Posted by: BradG | October 5, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Ah, imagine him in the Senate. Mitch and the boys would yearn for the days of Jim Bunning.

Posted by: baldinho | October 5, 2010 7:32 PM | Report abuse

How strange. Perhaps, the reality is that Miller and others want to return to time before the Magna Carta. If selection of federal Senators was up to say, the California Legislature, California would never have federal Senators.

What these want is chaos.

Posted by: pbarnett52 | October 5, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

I think that if there was another constitutional amendment to be added at this time, it should be the dissolution of the Senate. The Congress should be blended into a unicameral body so that our major issues could find a quicker resolution than they currently do, thanks in large part to the Senate.

Other potential amendment ideas should be the outright banning of corporations as people, corporations funding elections or candidates for office, reaffirmation that only Congress can authorize a war and that the Congress cannot capitulate that authority to the Executive branch.

I think another change needed is to extend the House terms from two years to four years so that they can spend less time trying to figure out how to raise money for their next campaign (of course, that wouldn't be a problem with some sensible public financing laws on the books, making it fair and financially easy to cover the incumbent and the selected challenger with equal amounts of money).

In California, term limits have turned out to be a disaster with the Legislature being turned over like a fast-food joint. All that has managed to do is give the lobbyists that much more pull as they welcome in the freshmen and become their best friends.

Plus, I believe that if you want to limit the term of a politician, DON'T VOTE HIM/HER BACK IN EVERY TIME THEY RUN. I know that sounds so simple that it's unbelievable, but it would work if you try it out.

Last, I could get behind selling Alaska to the Eskimo Tribes and releasing them from the Union (Hawaii is next). I think the long days are baking the brains of their political patrons and honestly, we have enough wackos already without giving the state with the lowest population so much of a voice telling the rest of us what to do.

Posted by: bryangalt1 | October 5, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Joe Miller is right! This is a country, under the 17th Amendment, in which the Governor of a Commonwealth State has lesser impact through direct representation on the nation's internal and external policies than foreign embassies and various lobbyists in Washington D.C. For example, split party elected Senators do nothing to further the aims and promises made by Governors and endorsed by the people during the election process. Bring to the Senate two appointed representatives of the Governor and the State Legislature to make sure that the State's interests are covered in D.C. Today's popularly elected Senators don't do that.

Posted by: myonecent | October 5, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

As a conservative I find his disdain for the flexible nature of the Constitution more troubling. The founders were wise enough to know what was good for them in the 1780s may not be the best thing for the country in 1880.

Also what's wrong the people voting for their senators instead of state legislatures picking them?

Posted by: cleancut77 | October 5, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

I find it odd that Palin and Miller are such pub hounds. I was always under the impression that Alaska considered themselves quite fortunate for not having to deal with the finger-wagging, desk-pounding antics normally reserved for the lower 48. Now they're supporting these two?

Posted by: USA4ALL | October 5, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

I find it odd that Palin and Miller are such pub hounds. I was always under the impression that Alaska considered themselves quite fortunate for not having to deal with the finger-wagging, desk-pounding antics normally reserved for the lower 48. Now they're supporting these two?

Posted by: USA4ALL | October 5, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

I find it odd that Palin and Miller are such pub hounds. I was always under the impression that Alaska considered themselves quite fortunate for not having to deal with the finger-wagging, desk-pounding antics normally reserved for the lower 48. Now they're supporting these two?

Posted by: USA4ALL | October 5, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

It’s pretty funny when you realize that 20% of Americans would support nonsense like this. But it gets scary when you realize that 20% equals 50% of the Republican Party. Miller, O’Donnel, Angle and all of the other Tea Party Whack Jobs are canaries in the coal mine. They are the warning sign that the insane are about to take over the asylum. Once they seize control of the GOP, the country will be on the short, slippery slope to perdition. That’s why its important work against and vote against every single Republican whether they’re running for the U.S. Senate or for dog catcher. You can’t let people who think this way have influence at any level of government.

Posted by: codexjust1 | October 5, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

I find it odd that Palin and Miller are such pub hounds. I was always under the impression that Alaska considered themselves quite fortunate for not having to deal with the finger-wagging, desk-pounding antics normally reserved for the lower 48. Now they're supporting these two?

Posted by: USA4ALL | October 5, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

How did the Republicans find so many illiterate, America-Hating freaks to run for office this year? The odds of doing that must be astronomical.

Posted by: wilder5121 | October 5, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans have more proposed amendments to the Constitution than grains of sand on the beach. They are just desperate to rewrite it to suit their theocratic views.

Posted by: chucko2 | October 5, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Ok, first Sarah Palin, now Joe Miller. What is in the water up in Alaska? Seriously. Do away with direct election of senators? I'm sorry, but as a voting citizen, I want the right to elect the senator who will represent my state and my interests. Don't dare talk about taking away one of my voting rights. I hate talk of term limits for the same reason. If someone is doing a great job, I want the right to reelect him or her. Don't tell me I can't vote for someone who is doing a great job just because some time clock has run out. That is ridiculous.

Posted by: scraigbass | October 5, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

No. Seriously. Is this the decade of dickwad idiot stupid people or what? I want to run away.

Posted by: isthisajoke | October 5, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Anyone ask his opinion on slavery or voting rights for women yet?

Posted by: jeffwacker | October 5, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Get rid of minimum wage laws that have been in place for 80 years, go back to the practice of indirectly electing Senators?

Why not got back to burning witches too, Joe -- other than your Tea Party colleague from Delaware, of course.

Posted by: exco | October 5, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

It's more important to allow voters, the people, to select and elect all policy making officials. Not an even more plutocratic body than the Senate itself.
This ongoing onslaught against some of the amendments to the Constitution really is attempting to hit below the belt. Why bring it up now? Probably cheap headlines, by members of the party that is not the duly elected government of the United States of America, like the Democratic Party is.

Posted by: deepthroat21 | October 5, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Just admit it, this guys is a big a moron as Christine O'Donnell.

Posted by: SwellLevel5 | October 5, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

PS... Isn't States Rights the 10th AMENDMENT to the constitution? So if it wasn't designed to be changed then he shouldn't be selling states rights...

Posted by: soapm | October 5, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

and then there's that part of the ORIGINAL Constitution that describes how to AMEND it. That's how we got the first ten amendments, a/k/a the Bill of Rights. How does Miller feel about them?

Posted by: JoeT1 | October 5, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

If the constitution was designed to be living or evolving, why would the founders put in it the process to amend it?

I think you're way off on this one Joe. The forefathers knew a static constitution wouldn't evolve with the people and I'm glad they left ways for it to be changed...

Posted by: soapm | October 5, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

I hate to break the bad news to Joe Miller, but neither Kansas nor Alaska were part of the colonies at the time of the Constitution. In fact the Bill of Rights was a last-minute add-on -- should that be part of original, or part of the living, breathing document? In any event, even if we include the Bill of Rights, Joe Miller is not a citizen of the states who agreed to the Constitution.

Posted by: MinnyMa | October 5, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Joe Miller would never be chosen as Senator by the Alaska legislature.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | October 5, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

One can support changing the Constitution all one wants. To actually amend the Constitution is another matter altogether. I will forgo the civics lesson, in the interest of brevity, except to say that such a task is more arduous than a campaign sound bite makes it sound.

To quote the lawyer from Fairbanks, his comment is "bullcrap."

Oh, by the way, elected officials take an oath to defend the constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Posted by: teamac | October 5, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

"This whole changing constitution is a bunch of bull crap."

"And speaking of that, I propose we change the constitution to do this stuff that I'd rather it do."

Posted by: nonvoter | October 5, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Wow.. this guy is crazy AND dangerous

Posted by: cmsatown | October 5, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

So Wilson wants to repeal the 17th Amendment because the Constitution is not a living, changing document (which I won't bother rebutting by pointing out the Constitution originally was ok with slavery, women not voting, etc, and was written before we became a diverse nation of 300 million grappling with new technology everyday) BUT also wants to AMEND the Constitution to impose term limits? I thought the Constitution was not a living a document, amenable to change.

Posted by: Baltesq | October 5, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Now I know how Caligula was able to nominate his horse as senator.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld1 | October 5, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

So Wilson wants to repeal the 17th Amendment because the Constitution is not a living, changing document (which I won't bother rebutting by pointing out the Constitution originally was ok with slavery, women not voting, etc, and was written before we became a diverse nation of 300 million grappling with new technology everyday) BUT also wants to AMEND the Constitution to impose term limits? I thought the Constitution was not a living a document, amenable to change.

Posted by: Baltesq | October 5, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

So in the same answer he says that you can't change the constitution and then he says we should amend the constitution to add term limits?

Posted by: ChicagoIndependant | October 5, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

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