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Author Topic: Abolish the Senate?
Ben
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I was just thinking over the past few weeks about the usual post-election complaints about the Electoral College. And it occured to me that most of the same people who present arguements supporting a reform of the current process seem to demand that all representation in voting for president should be as nearly proportional as possible if not making it a simple popular vote outright. This in turn led me to ponder Congress, where laws are typically passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate. If we were to apply the same logic, wouldn't the Senate itself have to be abolished to bring Congress itself in line with this? Especially after the process of selecting State Senators changed to direct election by the citizens of their states?

What I'm trying to get at here is wherther anyone can give me a convincing arguement or reasoning where the Electoral College as currently structured should be abolished in the selection of our President, while not doing the same in Congress in the selection of people creating laws for the country? I'm curious to your thoughts on this though I personally think we need to slow down on this and review the results of the changes in selecting Senators and how that has impacted our government. If this seems awkwardly worded, I apologize since I gotta go now.

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Kent
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I've thought for a long time that the Senate should not be popularly elected, but should go back to being appointed by the states' legislatures. Long live republicanism!
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The Drake
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I think most of the electoral college abolitionists probably would like to wipe out the Senate and go to a straight Virginia Plan. An argument I often hear from them is about how a Californian's vote counts less, and that population should determine representation. That is, in fact, how Madison viewed it when he concieved a one house legislature.

There are other complaints about the Electoral College, however. A common one is the "winner take all" provision used by most of the states to make themselves more important as potential swing states.

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Paul C
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Wasn't the upper house of the legislature designed to keep the interests of the state in mind?

With popular elections of the senators, it makes an upper and lower house of representatives.

I say go back to the appointments of senators in by the state governments!


Paul C

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The Drake
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Heh, interests of the small states are still protected. Popular election didn't change that. Senators also have a much longer term, meaning less campaign time and ability to take a longer view. Senators are also generally considered more moderate, since their base is state-wide rather than based on a district. Of course if the state in question is Massachusetts or California...

You get Kennedy, Kerry, Feinstein, and Boxer.

Be very glad, or sad, that the likes of those four don't dominate national politics entirely - as your ideology dictates.

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ATW
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quote:
Originally posted by Kent:
I've thought for a long time that the Senate should not be popularly elected, but should go back to being appointed by the states' legislatures.

Agreed.

The system was set up so as to curb the enthusiasm for change.

Congressmen have to endure re-election pressures and can have the tendency to pander to the people. That's not a bad thing necessarily from the founders' point of view. Congress after all was given the purse strings.

The Senators were to represent the states and did not have to go though elections.

Being selected by the state legislatures was a necessary buffer against the national government grabbing too much power. If a senator consistently favored the national government over his state government's interests, the state legislature would find a new senator.

Its not a coincidence that Washington wasn't in the habit of passing unfunded mandates upon the states back in the good old days.

The Senate was also a curb on the Congress. No re-election pressures. They could see lobbyists but their campaign warchests didn't depend on keeping special interest groups happy.

Congress could try to pass bread and circuses for the people but the Senate felt the responsibility, backed up by the various state legislature looking over their shoulders, to make sure it didn't happen.

Under the current system, no one represents the interests of the individual states in the national government. And Congress is in a constant race against the Senate to see who can spend more.

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The Drake
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I find it unlikely that Kennedy and Kerry would be acting any differently if the MA legislature appointed them. A "statist" state legislature would happily give up state's rights for more SWAG.
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Redskullvw
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Here is a link to my thoughts on the issue of the Senate and how it is currently behaving.

http://www.ornery.org/essays/2003-10-13-1.html

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witless chum
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I think there's a need for a compromise between giving states a say and voters a say. I put less importance on this than the framers, apparently, so I say popularily elect the pres. and let the Senate represent the states as states.

This leads me something my boss and I were talking about the other day. He worked in Nebraska for a while and they have single house legislature. In Michigan, and every other state I know anything about, the state house and senate are basically no different, state senators represent several times more people and serve longer, but same theory. So why have it?

My boss said in Nebraska the single house would do stupid things and have no one to stop them, if they could override a gov's veto, but does a similarily elected body really help that situation? I dunno. I do know no state senator will be voting themselves out of a job anytime soon, though.

Dan
(soundtrack "Ballad for Dead Friends" by Dashboard Prophets)

[ December 08, 2004, 11:34 PM: Message edited by: witless chum ]

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LoverOfJoy
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quote:
In Michigan, and every other state I know anything about, the state house and senate are basically no different, state senators represent several times more people and serve longer, but same theory. So why have it?
Representing more or less people often means representing different interests.

What's best for my school district may not, in the long run, be what's best for my city as a whole (and vice versa). Building another highway that goes past the other side of town may help with traffic problems overall but may hurt the outlying community that the highway will plow through.

It's helpful to have one group of people focused on the big picture and another focused on the smaller issues. If it was entirely small groups, the highway might never get built (or even considered). OR they might consistently screw over the outlying counties by building highways there even if it isn't best for the state as a whole in the long run.

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Van Aaron
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Ben, I don't see an inconsistency. If you want to make sure that smaller states have a voice in the federal government, you should support keeping the Senate as it is and abolishing the Electoral College.

While many people believe that the Electoral College favors small states, they are misguided. The extra two electoral votes every state gets favors the small states, but the winner-take-all aspect of the Electoral College favors large states to a much greater degree. Winner-take-all forces candidates to devote a disproportionate share of their resources (money, time, and goodwill - i.e., adopting positions favored by voters in particular states) to the largest states that are in play.

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