Rick Perry said " The American people mistakenly empowered the federal government during a fit of populist rage in the early twentieth century by giving it an unlimited source of income ( the 16th amendment, income tax ) and by changing the way Senators are elected." ( the 17th amendment ).
Perry believes the American people made a mistake, in " a fit of rage "and that this amendment needs to be overturned. let's , for a moment, consider why the Amendment was passed in the early 20th century.
Prior to the passage of this amendment, Senators were elected by each state's legislature. This caused an endless series of problems and exposed a deep vein of corruption :
* In 1865, the election/ selection of Senator John Stockton of N. Jersey was contested. Stockton was quoted as saying " The exact method of elections is murky and varies from state to state."
* From 1866 - 1905 there were 9 cases of Senate bribery
* From 1891 - 1905 there were 45 deadlocked election/ selections in 20 states.
* In 1899, Delaware deadlocked and was without either Senator for 2 years
* From 1855 - 1857, Indiana and California had no Senator
The culmination of this corruption and confusion , the point at which voters, in " a fit of populist rage" as Perry put it in his book, was the publication of a series of articles in Cosmopolitan in 1906 entitled : " The Treason of the Senate " in which Senators were depicted as corrupt pawns of industrialists and financiers, a caustic expose of the end result of legislatures " picking" Senators. The articles centered on Senator Nelson Aldrich of Rhode Island.
It is illustrative to read a few excerpts from the articles;
" No storm of popular rage, however, could unseat the senators from Rhode Island. A few thousand dollars put in the experienced hands of the heelers, and the senatorial general agents of " the interests" is secure for another six years ". Read industrialists and special interests.
" As a rule, Senator Aldrich no longer concerns himself with Rhode Island's petty local affairs. Not until about a year or so before it comes time for him to be elected again does he become active, says the states political boss, Charles Brayton. He doesn't pay much attention to details . Why should he ? politically. the state is securely the special interests and his. Financially, the " interests" (industrialists, friends, contributors) and he have incorporated and assured "
themselves in perpetuity..."
" Before he reached the Senate, Aldrich had had fifteen years of training in how to legislate the proceeds of the labor of many into the pockets of the few."
" And yet, what has the Senate done....the Senate, with its high-flown pretenses of reverence for the Constitution? It has so legislated and so refrained from legislating that more than half of all the wealth created by the American people belongs to less than one percent of them; that the income of the average American family has sunk to less than six hundred dollars a year; that of our more than twenty-seven million children of school age, less than twelve millions go to school, and more than two millions work in mines, shops and factories.
And the leader, the boss of the Senate for the past twenty years has been.....Senator Aldrich."
" Has Aldrich intellect? Perhaps. But he does not show it. He has never in his twenty-five years of service in the Senate introduced or advocated a measure that shows any conception of the life above what might be expectedof a Hungry Joe ( average ). No, intellect is not a characteristic of Aldrich.....or any of these traitors, or of the men they serve. A scurvy lot they are, are they not, with their smirking and cringing and voluble palaver about God and patriotism and their eager offerings of endowments for hospitals and colleges whenever the American people so much as looks hard in their direction! "
" Aldrich is rich and powerful. Treachery has brought him wealth and rank, if not honor, of a certain sort. He must laugh at us, grown up fools, permitting a handful to bind the might of our eighty millions and to set us all to work for them"
This then is the background to the passage , by 3/4 of the state's , of the 17th amendment. It did not result from Perry's Fit of Popular Rage". It resulted from the national disgust with a system of corruption and graft so endemic in state capitals throughout the nation. One can only muse at Rick Perry's selection of Texas Senators to replace Hutchison and Cornyn. Let's see
* James Leininger ?.....Check
* David Barton ?..........Check
* Perry's Chief of Staff, the state Director of Merck's advocacy group ?......Check
* Phil Adams ?.............Check
Perry wants to take the vote for Senators away from the people and return it to the politicians. He dismisses the real reasons for the amendment discussed above and says the people demanded this change in a momentary fit of rage. He is right. the people were enraged at the abuses of the process by legislatures often controlled by career politicians like Perry. His nostalgia for the 19th century is amusing but masks his unfamiliarity with the 20th century.
Perry is a political disaster in the process of happening
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