Why do Tennessee Republicans hate the 17th Amendment?

The Tennessee General Assembly is trying to subvert democracy. Republican lawmakers in that state want to revise our election process, and give themselves the power to select which candidates appear on the ballot for U.S. Senator. This is the latest GOP tactic to destroy our democratic process, and it's their clever way of going around the 17th Amendment.

Before 1913, state legislators selected U.S. Senators, but the process was ripe with corruption. So, the 17th Amendment was enacted to give voters the power to select their leaders, and remove the opportunity for rich guys to buy themselves a Senate seat. If passed, Tennessee Senate Bill 0471 and House Bill 0414 would amend state election laws, to let state legislators nominate candidates, and thus would likely determine who represents that state in the U.S. Senate. As Tennessee voters are highly likely to vote Republican, it's a virtual certainty that the GOP candidate selected by the state legislators would go on to represent that state in the Senate.

The 17th Amendment was passed to prevent wealthy men from buying off state legislators, and this new law in Tennessee would open the door to the same type of corruption all over again. Citizens United paved the way for mountains of cash in political races...but why spend millions in campaign ads when you can simply bribe a few state legislators and achieve the same effect?

Republicans know they can't win elections on the issues, hence their attempt to disenfranchise voters and buy off politicians. Now they think they can simply decide who has the right to appear on the ballot. We must stop the attack on our democratic process. Our right to vote is our most important right, and it must be protected.


shava23's picture
shava23 11 years 11 weeks ago

Already the electoral process is an essentially parliamentary process unmonitored by the constitution, where the two major parties vet and groom potential candidates for years befor the popular vote gives the electorate a referendum between the star chamber selection of the GOP vs the Dems.

The party machines used to insulate the local and state parties from insurgencies - the idea that some populist movement could just show up and, with minimalist "dues paying," gain enough numbers and traction in the parliamentary system of the political party such that they'd gain real power before they'd essentially assimilate as "party regulars."

In the 60s, the Goldwater Republicans did this in the GOP with smarts and energy. Recently, the Dean progressives made inroads with the Dems as a relatively peaceful if naive insurgency.

But I believe this move in Tennessee is not to assure a GOP Senate. It may well be the old guard GOP trying to lock out the Tea Party insurgency in the only desperate way they can. It's undemocratic and ultimately likely ill-advised - but the Tea Party is probably going to be shown by history to have been a bought-and-paid-for populist insurgency that has undermined the political machinery systemically and catastrophically (whether that was an intended consequence or not).

Even as former Democratic state committee woman, I do not see this aimed at the Democrats. I could easily be wrong! I just would like to throw an alternative analysis into the mix.

Kend's picture
Kend 11 years 11 weeks ago

the Hartmanns always bring up citizens united. It goes both ways, citizens united was brought in to counter the massive contributions the large unions where making to buy off politcations to get the huge raises in wages and benefits that hundreds of cities are going broke from.

Taking about corruption. It amazes me how community organizers can go into politics an come out worth tens of millions of dollars. There must be corruption everywhere with the amount of money they all have when they come out of office.

Mathmn's picture
Mathmn 11 years 11 weeks ago

It might go both ways, but GOP leaning groups contributed about double that of Democrat leaning groups. Many Unions have democratic solutions within their bylaws whereby members can say no to the dollars that are spent on political action via the dues structure.

Mathmn's picture
Mathmn 11 years 11 weeks ago

A very interesting take. I hope you're correct, because I believe tea partiers are a bit over the top in their ideology and very short on facts.

PhilipHenderson's picture
PhilipHenderson 11 years 11 weeks ago

The Republican Party's actions in Tennessee will backfire on them and help to destroy the Republican Party. Their attack on democracy is transparent. When the electorate sees what is occurring they will make the Republicans pay for their undemocratic ways. The Republican Party is behaving more and more like a domestic terrorist organization. They are sowing the seeds for their own demise. Long live the truth!

Kend's picture
Kend 11 years 11 weeks ago

Phillip I think your right. It will come back to bite them in the bum. Here In Canada we have three main parties and a few small ones. Do any of you think the US should have more than two?

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 11 years 11 weeks ago

Kend ~ A third party? I sure do think we deserve more choices! The Libertarian Party is a viable candidate. So is the Green Party. Hell, for that matter, how about the Socialist Party.

Freedom of choice is Freedom of Choice. Let there be Alternatives!

HalFonts's picture
HalFonts 11 years 11 weeks ago

We (in the US) should absolutely have more than two viable parties, but that's a long time away. Unfortunately, even efforts towards non-partisan elections, have reduced the possibilities of any third-party candidate winning first-place.

Election after election, I've sworn I was no-longer going to be black-mailed into chosing the least-worst of two sold-out candidates. And, time after time, one was so bad, I've had to settle for the least-worse of two -- rather than voting for someone new and more in-line with my druthers.

While there is clearly a difference between D's and R's, the difference has been quickly devolving into mostly campaign rhetoric, unrelated to long-term results. With mega-money corruption of the process, we see representatives from all viewpoints supporting their big-money programs. -- rather than focusing on people's interests. Sometimes I dream of a real multi-party parliamentary system, where minor groups have voice and negotiable-clout.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 11 years 11 weeks ago

HalFonts ~ Here! Here!

My only regret is not voting for Ralph Nader or Dennis Kucinich when I had a chance. We all make mistakes. To aire is human, to forgive divine. Perhaps forgiving ourselves and admitting our mistakes to ourselves is the way to resolving our other problems. I assure you HalFonts I will not vote in line in the future as I have voted in the past. The age of choosing the lesser of two evils is over as far as I am concerned!

Kend's picture
Kend 11 years 11 weeks ago

Thanks for your repleys. Here just because you don't win you can still have a lot of say. If the two party's get together and vote against the majority they can stop a bill. We have a Conservative party, a liberal party, NDP (union party), Green Party, and a few independent parties. our prime ministers (president) can be elected for ever there is no time limits. What I do like is no fixed election dates. The election gets called by the sitting party (in a set time frame about 4 years) and 3 months later it is over. Just think of the money saved there. and there is a lot less time to buy votes. As a outsider it just seems in The USA the two parties are so far apart that a party in the middle would not only win but be good for the country.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 11 years 11 weeks ago

Kend ~ Agreed! 100%

delster's picture
delster 11 years 11 weeks ago

When you think about it everything gets corrupted by the size and power consumption of an organization. Political parties, unions, corporations, wall street. It is the addiction that attaches itself to the very biggnest of everything. Everything large seems to get support from corporations, and corporations in turn get help from the government, and so on. All that is heaped upon a pyramid with someone or something at the very top thinking it is good for all concerned.

monroeplace's picture
monroeplace 11 years 11 weeks ago

Oh be careful DAnneMarc. Never use the word "socialist" in this country. It's reason enough to merit a visit from the likes of Sarah and Michelle. Think about that for a minute. Levity aside I think this country is in deep, deep trouble. People on the extreme Right seem to be running the Republican Party. GOPers never seem to stop kissing the a---s of the Christian right. Why? Maybe a third party is the answer. I'm a Democrat but both parties better wake up and work for US. All of US.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 11 years 11 weeks ago

Kend says large unions buy off politicians to get huge raises. First of all unions spend less than a third compared to corp. spending on political campaigns. Also unions must disclose donors, groups like Crossroads GPS do not. Secondly real wages in our country have been stagnant for years. Any financial benefits from growth have all gone to a tiny few who don't even need the additional money to begin with.

Stats. currently indicate that if wages had kept up with worker productivity the minimum wage would be $22/hour. So I say billionaires buy off politicians to steal not only from union workers but all workers.

I got to ask you Kend, given the choice between a union company and non-union one, which would you recommend for your grandchildren as they enter the workplace? Be honest!

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 11 years 11 weeks ago

At least there are still a few good people running our court system....US District Judge Otis Wright's court was abuzz yesterday as he figuratively slapped a few slime-ball lawyers down for their fraudulent activities. I hope those twerps get disbarred if not thrown into prison. How many people have they bilked out of thousands of dollars by threatening legal action against them for even a great deal more if they didn't settle out of court for $3 or $4 thousand dollars?

Now, if our politicians and courts could just go after the really big guys that have heisted trillions of dollars from all of us.


2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 11 years 11 weeks ago

So let me get this right, the amendment to state election laws would mean that a wealthy worshipper of money like Pat Robertson could simply buy off a few state legislators in a red state and be the Senate Republican candidate. Just great!

I ardently agree then, we must stop this attack on our democratic process, the part known as voting!

climatetime 11 years 11 weeks ago

The real fight is stopping the republican fascist from stealing our democracy.Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat. We have been living the repetition of 1929, it has been meticulously reproduced by the republican fascist regime that is running our government. Michigan is being turned over to czar dictators city by city till Michigan no longer has any democratic process. The gerrymandering stops us from electing someone who will defend Democracy. The House is republican because of gerrymandering. Voting boxes are rigged in favor of these fascist. Why do you think they are trying to destroy our right to vote?

Letting the republicans (nazi fascist) run our government is the pearl harbor.

If you yahoo the republican party you will see how it evolved into a nazi fascism, governed by multi-nationalist corporations that hide under the name of being American corporations but are really owned by the 1 per-centers, China and Dubai. Our enemies knew they could never win a war against us, that's why these Nazi Traitors ( the top 1%) are destroying our democracy from within.

Germany 1929, was run by the 1 % of elites that included President Bush Senior's father running the banks and munitions factories that supplied Hitler during world war II. President Roosevelt found out the Bushes were nazis and confiscated there possessions and money. Sadly most of the Bush's money was safely hidden in tax shelters in Switzerland. Yahoo Bush's family history. The Bushes were Nazis thru and thru. Now the republicans are controlled by nazis. Civics and history are not taught in schools, dumbing down our children, controlling our news outlets, banks, stock market, economy and law enforcement is essential in destroying democracy. Once these factors are gone from us, so is our democracy gone.

Fight the Right Fight. Fight the Fight for democracy. Then we will be able to fix gun control, the economy, the monopolies, the big corrupt banks, jobs, throw out free trade, stop corosive pipelines, produce renewable energy and save our environment. They take away our democracy and they win everything.

BMetcalfe's picture
BMetcalfe 11 years 11 weeks ago

Everything old is new again... This happens every several decades. And the one thing most peopke forget about this twist in fate - regardless of which country in which you live - is that it's always the wealthiest and the most greedy who come up with these (old) new ideas.

Not every rich person is greedy, but every greedy person's fondest desire is to become rich at any cost.

I never wanted to be rich; my only goal in life has been to help those I can, graciously accept help when I need it, and to never forget that I was raised to be kind to everything else and everyone else in this world, because it is this world - with everything in it - that gives me life, peace of mind, and comfort until I pass into a new one.

James Clark's picture
James Clark 11 years 11 weeks ago

<Climatetime> You nailed our countries sad situation 100%we are watching the rise of a up and coming nazi-party The right wing tea party and the rest of the RepublicOns that, Quoting Norquist will eventually "drown our government in bathtub" and the sad fools that subscribe to that mentality until all services have ceased then the rude awaking occurs to discover their lives will no-where ever be the same, the clueless will continually try to prevail in a fog of disbelief--their the ones that even said it "You cant fix stupid"!

Justwondrinwhy's picture
Justwondrinwhy 11 years 11 weeks ago

They want to do this to keep people from knowing how really crazy, racist, and sexist they really are. All their crazy tends to come out during primary debates, and if they can get around primaries, the party can carefully control the message, and therefore, carefully control the message that the voters hear, so that voters who don't research anything can continue to live in their la-la land.

Justwondrinwhy's picture
Justwondrinwhy 11 years 11 weeks ago

This move is specifically to prevent Lamar Alexander from having a primary challenger who would open his mouth and tell everybody what the party is really about. Note that the Dems held the state legislature until 2008, and now that the Repubs were able to redistrict and gerrymander the districts in 2010, they have a supermajority. Thanks, everybody that stayed home and didn't vote in 2010. The crazy bills that are currently under consideration and being passed are a direct result of letting Republicans take control. They didn't run on school vouchers, gutting Workmen's comp, and cutting a family's food stamps if one child gets failing grades, but that's what they do when they are unchecked.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 11 years 11 weeks ago

You can keep trying to blame it on those who stayed home and not voted in 2010...but what would they have voted for? Scumbag Demorats who are really Republicans anyway? Face it! DemoRATS or RepubliCONs... same, same. The only thing that will change the corrupt system is a revolution. And if that is too scary for you then at least try voting for someone other than the DemoRATS or the RepubliCONS neither of whom will make any difference at all. Both parties are playing the blame game and all are guilty of corruption.

Geraldine Rieman 11 years 11 weeks ago

I do agree with you. The Republican party people are blinded by their own beliefs. Then they sit with glazed eyes and wonder why they did not win the Presidential election.

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 11 years 11 weeks ago

And Democrats are also blinded by their own beliefs and sit with glazed eyes and wonder why their President that they voted for, and many of the other Democrat politicians they voted for yet again are so right wing...that you can't really tell them apart from the Republicans. Oh, they'll talk Democrat but then they vote Republican.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 11 years 11 weeks ago

HalFonts, DAnneMarc: I agree, it's a real problem when the third party candidate is the best choice, in fact I voted for Nader in 2000, but did this knowing full well that Gore was going to take our state. As you already know, citizens like us voting in the last presidential race for a third party would have equated to a vote for Romney. In a tight state that's a problem. So I guess what I'm going to do in the future is what I did in 1980. I'll vote for the third party candidate just as long as the billionaire party candidate has no chance to carry my state.

Green_TZM's picture
Green_TZM 11 years 11 weeks ago

Abandon the Democrats like the Southern racists did. The Green Party awaits you!!! ALSO

Every 14th of the month, we gather together at a predetermined location. We give a short speech on as many issues as possible. Then we engage the public and hand out information. The goal is to educate people on the progressive values, and the reasons why we believe the things we do. And hopefully show the reasons why that person should agree with us. A success would be such growth that by next summer people would be coming out every 14th at MANY locations around the country.

One thing I ask you all to do. Copy/Paste this message everywhere you post. http://www.causes.com/actions/1739911-14th-amendment-equality-pledges

If you listen to progressive radio, you know that our presence is needed in the streets. Let's work together and have activity everywhere there was an occupy group. We MUST educate the low information voter before 2014!

akunard's picture
akunard 11 years 11 weeks ago

Check into how Obama got on the ticket for senate. Other side of the coin isn't all that pretty!

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 11 years 11 weeks ago

You mean the coin that's tossed where heads they win and tails we lose? Any suggestions as to what to read on that matter? Given Obama's performance in the Oval Office Obama's rise to power must have been pretty seedy.

akunard's picture
akunard 11 years 11 weeks ago

Google, how obama wan his us senate seat by robert wenzel

Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 11 years 11 weeks ago

akunard..thanks..I read it..interesting!

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