How did the 17th Amendment take power away from the states and give it to the federal government?  Was that a good thing?

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The 17th Amendment has become a much bigger issue in national politics than it ever has been because of the influence of the Tea Party.  The Tea Party feels that this amendment took power away from the states and gave it to the federal government when it stopped allowing the state legislatures to select US senators.  Tea Party members feel that senators were more accountable to people in their states when they were selected by state legislators.  Now, they do not have to care about how federal laws impact the states.  Instead, all they care about is how campaign donors feel.  Therefore, they pass laws that help campaign donors and ignore what the states need.

It may well be that repealing the 17th Amendment would shift power back to the states.  However, it is not at all clear that this would make for a better government.  There is typically less attention paid to state governments by the media than there is to the national government.  This might mean that campaign donors could still influence senators through the state legislators and could do so with less public scrutiny.  It is also not at all clear that we should want to do something that would decrease the amount of democracy in our country.  Our whole history has been one of providing ourselves with more opportunities for the people to control the government.  Repealing the 17th Amendment would take some of that control away.

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