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(17,394 posts)
9. Ben Sasse is mistaken with idea for the election of senators in America
Wed Sep 23, 2020, 11:01 PM
Sep 2020

I think we need to stop seeing Trump as being a Republican aberration. Trump is the personification of what it means to be a Republican and how modern Republicans are openly hostile to the idea of a Democracy.

Look at Ben Sasse, who has sometimes celebrated as an anti-Trump Republican despite the fact that he largely moves in lockstep with Trump. Trump's outrageousness simply gives "mainstream" Republicans cover despite the fact that their ideas are just as extreme and hostile to Democracy as Trump's.

The fight for a Democracy does not end with just voting for Biden. Saving Democracy depends on electing people up and down the ballot who are willing to protect our Democratic ideals.


Facing an easy election, Senator Ben Sasse has decided to jump into the national political fray. Rather than get involved on the race for president, Sasse is proposing such major changes to the Senate. Arguably his most significant revamp suggestion is that the country should now repeal the 17th Amendment, which mandates the direct election of senators, then have state legislatures elect senators to Congress.

Sasse is latching onto an idea that has been popular for conservatives in recent years. In theory, this proposal would fit in with the previous desire of conservatives for an increase in federalism and devolution of power to the states. Unsurprisingly, Sasse does not mention to us that Republicans would be the beneficiaries of any change over the short term, since they control the legislature in more than half the states.

While Sasse argues that removing the 17th Amendment may reverse the national focus with current politics, the reality is likely to be the opposite. Such a change would almost certainly make national the state legislative elections. What we would see is the near total elimination of local issues. This is happening to some degree today, but it would become a standard across the country, as every possible legislative win would be seen as the chance to gain control of the Senate. Parties and outside interest groups would look to recall elections as a way to gain an advantage in an off year fight, which could create a truly forever campaign.

Gerrymandering, which has deleterious effects on politics, would rapidly rise in importance. As we saw once more with the debate for the census, redistricting has become a national battle for control of the House. If the idea from Sasse were enacted, state legislatures would work on the most extreme gerrymandering possible to gain control for the Senate. We saw the effects of redistricting on Wisconsin, as Republicans won 64 percent of the legislative seats with only 46 percent of the vote in 2018. We could watch redistricting turn into a constant presence.
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