May 03, 2004

DeLay & the 17th Amendment

I’ve seen a few bloggers expressing puzzlement over this:

Sen. Zell Miller, the Georgia Democrat who has become increasingly disgusted with his party as well as the way the U.S. Senate has operated the past few years, figures it’s time for a major shake-up in how senators are chosen.

  This week, he proposed legislation to repeal the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, which in 1913 removed the selection of senators from state legislatures, as the original Constitution called for, and gave it to the voters.

[...]

The effect, he said, has been to create a legislative body responsive only to special interests.

  “Make no mistake about it: It is the special-interest groups and their fund-raising power that elect U.S. senators and then hold them in bondage forever,” he said.

  His legislation comes less than a week after House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, indicated that he, too, thought the 17th Amendment was a bad move.

  “I am willing to have a debate that electing senators by popular vote has had a very real negative impact on this country,” Mr. DeLay said last week during a debate over how the House should reconstitute itself after a catastrophic attack.

I’ll leave it to the reader whether Zell Miller has in fact sold his soul to the biggest “special interest” agenda in American history, and whether there might therefore be some irony in his words.

But DeLay’s statements are something special, and we nominate them for the DCCC’s coveted Most Disingenuous Stance in the History of Congress Award.

To explain, a reasonable man might sincerely make the argument DeLay is making: if Senators did not have to run popular campaigns, there would be no dependence on money, and therefore “special interests” would not be able to influence their elections.  Now something already smells funny, if we think back to this DeLay gem:

“Money is not the root of all evil in politics. In fact, money is the lifeblood of politics.”

But more importantly, to make this argument sincerely, one would have to proceed from the premise that state legislatures are not controlled by “special interests.”  And in debating whether DeLay would be so trusting, let’s remember what he may soon be indicted for:

Travis County Attorney David Escamilla said Friday he will investigate a complaint that the Texas Republican Party may have illegally used corporate donations to influence state elections in 2002.

That’s right.  Having bought the TX state legislature with “special interest” money to do his bidding, DeLay now wants them, his puppets, to elect the state’s two Senators.  And by the way, these interests were extremely “special,” as this company email from contributor Westar makes abundantly clear:

“DeLay is from TX. What is our connection?”

So DeLay will get to handpick the state’s Senators, thus taking the “special interests” out of the equation!  And why stop with Texas when disgraceful state legislatures in Colorado and Pennsylvania have already shown their loyalty and obedience?

Alright, let’s start a new tradition of making Monday “Hard Sell Monday.”  We’ll try to give you one solid reason why kicking DeLay back into the minority and letting Pelosi take control is as good an expenditure of your $25 as anything (thus saving myself the ambiguity of whether to put my hand out in every other post).  Consider the above our first submission, what do you say?

Give us a hand.


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