The Federal Government has Reduced Individual Rights

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What do transportation laws, public education, and welfare programs have in common? All of them are not instituted solely by the state governments but by the central government. These are just a few examples that show the power of the central government has dramatically increased from when it was first instituted (Nosotro). There are many factors that have fueled this increase, but one major cause is the Seventeenth Amendment. The Seventeenth Amendment was added to the Constitution in the early 1900’s and called for the direct election of senators. Ironically, this amendment, which was sold as an expansion of democracy, greatly increased the power of the United States federal government. In order to understand how this amendment has increased the power of the federal government, one must have a good understanding of the background to this amendment. It was not proposed and ratified due to a fanatical last minute whim of a few senators. Rather, a combination of bribes, scandals, electoral deadlocks, malapportioned legislatures, and the changing of the political tastes combined to make direct election of senators a popular option at the turn of the century (Schiller 2). At the time the House of Representatives was the only body directly elected by the people, and senators were elected by their respective state legislatures rather than by straight vote from their constituents (Keesee 51). The idea for the direct election of senators was not a new idea. Reformers as far back as the 1800’s were interested in limiting the role of state legislatures in Senate elections. Even Andrew Johnson, the seventeenth president of the United States, proposed an amendment that would elect senators through popular election (Levin 44). The d... ... middle of paper ... ...l. American Government. 2nd ed. Greenville, SC: BJU Press, 2010. Print. Levin, Mark R. The Liberty Amendments. New York City, NY: Simon and Schuster, 2013. Print. Nosotro, Rit. “The Centralization of the USA Government.” Hyper History., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2013. “Repeal the 17th Amendment.” The Campaign to Restore Federalism., Apr. 2009. Web. 17 Nov. 2013. Schiller, Wendy and Charles Stewart III. U.S. Senate Elections before 1914. April 8, 2004. TS. The Midwest Political Science Association Chicago, Illinois. Stephenson, Howard. “Overcoming the flaws of the 17th Amendment – direct election of U.S. senators.” Enterprise/Salt Lake City 30 Jan. 2006: 23. MasterFILE Main Edition. Web. 6 Sept. 2013. Wakeman, Raffaela. “United States Senate Elections before 1914.” MIT Undergraduate Research Journal 14 (2006): 22-24. Web. 6 Sept. 2013.

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