Allen West: How Differently Would Senators Act Without the 17th Amendment?

By Allen West | July 31, 2017 | 10:57am EDT
Allen West (Flickr Photo/Gage Skidmore)

You know, if you sit and read the entire Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers and the Constitution, you’ll come to realize how truly brilliant the Founding Fathers were. Today, we have an academic elite that sees them only through the lens of identity politics; often, they perceive them as old, slave-owning, white men.

But when you lucidly examine what they did, you’ll see, as Benjamin Franklin said, they gave us a Republic — if we could keep it. They gave us a governing structure not just focused on the near term, but could truly last forever. Sadly, we lack the intellectual regimen in our current system of indoctrination (not education!) to objectively study these fundamental ideas, principles and values. We used to call it civics, but now, via revisionist history, the progressive socialist left, as Barack Obama stated, is all about fundamentally transforming our nation.

Some of this fundamental transformation occurred during the first “progressive” year of the United States: 1913. There were two very important constitutional amendments passed that year, which burden us today, and which contradict what the Founders believed. The first was the 16th Amendment, which created the personal income tax — an individual tax on production. Previously, taxation was focused on consumption. Even still, the individual income tax was to have been temporary and the rates and levels were not to be increased.

However, remember that one of Karl Marx’s tenets in his Communist Manifesto was the importance of creating a “progressive tax” system. Look at where we are today as the federal government has come to realize the tax code can be used as a weapon as well as an enabler for government expansion. Always remember Obamacare was a major tax increase comprised of 20 new taxes, and a massive wealth transfer and redistribution scheme.

And so it was that our own U.S. Senate, controlled by Republicans, could not live up to their seven-year stated objective of repealing those onerous Obamacare taxes. As a matter of fact, they resorted to some silly crap called a “skinny” bill leaving many of the Obamacare taxes in place, and thanks to three Republicans, that failed as well. And now Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says, that’s it, they’re done, they’re finished with reforming healthcare in America. Obamacare stays, Medicaid for all, and greater taxation, including the individual mandate.

Now we’re supposed to believe the GOP can do something about tax reform? At least we have the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, who finally threw in the towel on the absurd concept of a border adjustment tax — boy has that 16th Amendment screwed us all. But can the GOP actually reform our tax system? Heck, even under budget reconciliation rules, they couldn’t repeal the taxes of Obamacare!

Perhaps it’s now time to talk about that other constitutional amendment from 1913, the seventeenth. Heck, Governor Mike Huckabee has already said the same via Twitter — doggone everyone is tweeting these days.

If you haven’t been a student of civics, well, the 17th Amendment changed the way U.S. senators were elected. The Founding Fathers in their utter brilliance had varied the means by which we were entitled to elect representation in America. The House of Representatives, which is referred to as the “People’s House,” is based strictly on population. And if you want to be able to affect a change with the federal government, every two years you could do that by popular vote. The presidency, or the head of the executive branch, was determined by popular vote, but there’s an electoral college that ensures we have a representative democracy, not a pure democracy — a big difference. The left went apoplectic in 2016 because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but not the presidency. But the Founders didn’t want heavily-populated areas to decide our chief executive — and this is done every four years. Sorry New York, California, and major urban areas, you don’t get to determine our president.

It’s with the Senate that the Founders had a different vision. It was viewed as the upper legislative chamber, and due to the Connecticut Compromise, each state would have two senators. The difference was that the Founders established that the senators were elected via state legislatures. They believed these individuals, with six-year terms, would be responsive to their states. However, a movement began around the turn of the century to allow the people to vote for senators too. This passed in 1913 during the first American progressive era. It was then believed that state legislatures were too corrupt to have that responsibility — although now many would say the same thing about our federal legislature: the “swamp.”

Imagine if those GOP senators who blocked the repeal of Obamacare could be recalled by their state legislatures, if they could be subjected to a vote of “no confidence” and be removed! How differently would these senators act – or any senator? It would certainly preclude the arrogance and defiance of what has become a very lucrative club — not of citizen servants but of those who believe their political position entitles them to lord over us with no retribution, enabling them to become career politicians.

The Founding Fathers created three different means by which our legislative and executive branches are populated. The leadership of the judicial branch is determined via presidential nomination, although with senatorial confirmation — but perhaps it’s time to change the “lifetime” appointments of the Supreme Court.

Yes, I believe it’s time to talk about the 17th Amendment, for people to understand what it is, and why we changed the original vision of Madison, Hamilton, and Jay. Our U.S. Senate is not a House of Lords – albeit, they tend to believe they are. Yes, the 17th Amendment gave the state’s governors the power to appoint a replacement, until a special election occurs or until the next election cycle. But it’s time we assess the repeal of the 17th Amendment, and give state legislatures the ability to elect, and recall, their senators. I just have to ask, if the 17th Amendment didn’t exist, would Arizona, Maine, Alaska, West Virginia, and a few others be looking to replace their current senators?

Whaddya’ think, is it time to return to what the Founders intended for the means of electing our U.S. senators? Gotta tell ya, I think we should consider it. It would certainly cut down costs of senatorial political campaigns and undermine the power and influence of federal-level special interest lobbyists.

Allen West is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army. During his 22-year career, he served in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, receiving many honors including a Bronze Star. In 2010, West was elected as a member of the 112th Congress representing Florida’s 22nd District. He is a Fox News contributor and author of “Guardian of the Republic." Mr. West also writes daily commentary on

Editor's Note: This piece was originally published by Colonel Allen West on

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