I have previously written about the political system of democracy and how it is susceptible to corruption, abuse and instability.
Following the democratic ideal and the ancient Greek civilization, the next universally popular political system is that of republicanism.
I am a staunch Republican. Historically, republicanism has brought societies rich and bountiful successes. Many hail it as the most stable and popular political system ever devised.
When our founding fathers constructed our Constitution, they were undoubtedly familiar with republicanism. They helped establish a revolutionary new form of government based clearly upon revolving republican principles.
Although validly praised as the epitome of political organization, republicanism indeed has its flaws and one can clearly peer upon its imperfections — since they trace back through the centuries in American history.
When our Constitution was constructed, U.S. senators were not elected by the people of each state or by any sort of popular vote. Instead, James Madison and company decided to let the respective state legislatures select their state’s U.S. senators so that those senators would focus on the needs of the state instead of — thanks to the 17th Amendment — appealing to the citizens of each state based on their individual philosophical beliefs and political needs.
Why would our founding fathers leave the Senate indirectly out of the citizens’ hands?
It’s because of republicanism.
You may not know it, but you don’t directly vote for the U.S. president either. You vote for your state’s representative as part of our electoral college to cast their ballot in your candidate’s favor.
The founding fathers gave citizens a direct avenue in which to voice their political opinion: the House of Representatives. This was the Constitution’s primary directly-democratic outlet.
On the other hand, the Senate was orchestrated to make senators reliant on the needs of each state and not each individual within that state.
Much like the Roman Republic before them — with its assemblies and senate — the U.S. was built upon the premise of balancing governmental powers.
With the ratification of the 17th Amendment in the early 20th century, the Senate became just another version of the House of Representatives.
The priorities of senators shifted from being accountable to state legislators to becoming politically astute, identifiable and amiable to voters who would now directly elect them into office.
This not only created future problems and imbalances for states, but it demonstrated a key flaw within republicanism.
The 17th Amendment was not ratified because America had tossed her republicanism into the garbage. It was because of “corruption” and “special interests.”
Our founding fathers probably did not envision mass corruption within the republican system of the Senate. While some claims of malfeasance may be over-exaggerated, the role of special interests within American politics cannot be overstated.
It obviously did not wither up and die, thanks to the 17th Amendment.
No, the 17th Amendment merely shifted the focus of special interest groups away from state senators and into new political channels, where many remain to this day.
Regardless of the amendment’s consequences, republicanism and the “republic,” has been all but lost in modern political discussion.
Our new national term is “democracy” now.
We need to bring “democracy” and “freedom” to the rest of the world. “Democracy” is the new political word that makes society sigh with an uninhibited metaphysical infatuation.
Not only do we as a nation need to bring republicanism back to the Senate, we need to discuss its corruptible flaws so that we can make the system stronger.
This country was not built around direct democracy, but upon republicanism.
Reach this columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter at @sean_mccauley
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