Unsurprisingly, the profoundly nefarious 17th played an important role in its destruction.
Michael Finch, the President of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, has an excellent article over at the American Thinker making clear where the Progressives are in their fight against the Constitution. He identifies what the Biden administration intends to accomplish—nothing less than completing the project of centralizing power in the federal government begun by the Progressives over a century ago. Finch very correctly observes that “the 10th Amendment, with its clear limitations on federal power, has been seriously eroded over the past century,” and that Biden and his handlers intend to put an end to the remaining limitations on federal power.
The Progressives certainly have gotten away with trampling on the 10th Amendment for more than a century, but that raises this question: how did they manage to get away with doing that?
The answer is that the Progressives tricked Americans into repealing the 10th Amendment without realizing that was what they were doing. It was very cleverly done, so cleverly that even today Americans by and large do not understand what happened. When in 1913 America approved the 17th Amendment, the amendment that provided for the direct election of senators, the 10th Amendment was doomed.
How can that be? After all, the 10th Amendment says nothing about the election of senators. The point of the all-important 10th Amendment is that the Founders created a federal government of strictly limited powers. Here it is in full:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
The 10th says the powers of the federal government (here referred to as “the United States”) are limited to the enumerated powers, the limited powers assigned it in the Constitution; the individual states (here referred to as “the States”) retain all their powers not delegated to the federal government. But the important point for us to understand is that the Founders’ method for selecting senators was the key to keeping the powers of the federal government limited.
In the Constitution and in the original American republic, senators were selected by the state legislatures. The wisdom of the Framers is nowhere more evident than in this feature of their constitutional design. This was the central pillar of that design. It secured the 10th Amendment by the power of the Senate. As I wrote in my book about the founding entitled Common Sense Nation:
The Senate had been a barrier to the passage of federal laws infringing on the powers reserved to state governments, but the Senate has abandoned that responsibility under the incentives of the new system of election. Because the states no longer have a powerful standing body representing their interests within the federal government, the power of the federal government has rapidly grown at the expense of the states.
Before the 17th Amendment, the state legislatures controlled the upper chamber of Congress. There was no way the federal government was going to usurp the power of the states. The 17th Amendment disempowered the states, and the 10th Amendment promptly began eroding away.
Americans in 1913 were fooled by the Progressives because too many Americans no longer understood the Founders’ design for liberty. You have to give the Progressives credit. They did understand the Founders’ design, they picked their target brilliantly, and by selling the 17th Amendment as a reform, they won a great victory.
And America That Was, in consequence, has been circling the drain ever since, spiraling ever faster as it slips down the pipe to its ultimate doom. Mike’s Iron Law #1,246: whenever Progressivists win, America loses.