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Instead of watching helplessly as our republic devolves into crown government, let’s distract ourselves with a counterfactual. What if senators were appointed by state legislatures for indefinite terms?
The Senate was designed to preserve the federal nature of our system. Members of the House represent the people, but the Senators were to represent the states — really, state governments.
Had this worked, the people would have benefited. (Sometimes, you win by grabbing all the power, but sometimes you win by ceding power to critical allies. The states were the people’s only allies in the War Against the Feds.) Unfortunately, senators came to be viewed as redundant representatives of the people, and this was reinforced by the 17th Amendment’s requiring the direct election of senators.
The design flaw that doomed the whole experiment was simple: fixed six-year terms for senators. They resemble other elected officials. The senate lacks a proper feedback loop. Senators become creatures of Washington. They go native.
We should treat them as state ambassadors. They should serve at the pleasure of the state legislators. If one gets out of line, recall him. Replace him instantly.
Sadly, the founders lacked the benefit of this wisdom. We’re doomed.