This was the headline for The Gazette on September 21, 2014. The Gazette is eastern Iowa’s locally owned newspaper based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The article claims that special interest groups from outside the state pay for 80% of the TV ads in the U.S. Senate race between Bruce Braley and Joni Ernst.
The impact of TV ads can easily negate local grass roots campaigning. Many of these ads may be technically accurate, but totally misleading. Some are outright lies with no consequences. Politicians are obligated to represent the special interests that finance their campaigns. Why do we allow this to continue? It means we lose control of the elected officials that are supposed to work in the best interests of the state they represent.
The easiest way to prevent this problem in any U.S. Senate race is to repeal the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. This amendment established the direct election of United States Senators by popular vote of the state they represent. The 17th Amendment was passed on May 13, 1912 and ratified on April 8, 1913. Electing Senators by popular vote seems to make sense until it is examined closely. Special interests outside the state can control the election.
Prior to this change in the Constitution, U.S. Senators were appointed by the state legislature. The state always elected representatives to the U.S. House by popular vote, as they do today. This difference in how Representatives were elected and Senators were appointed to Congress was just one more check and balance our founding fathers build into the Constitution. How could our founding fathers be so smart and we be dumb enough to change it?
Some Amendments to the Constitution are a mistake. The 18th Amendment prohibited the manufacturing and sale of alcohol for human consumption in the United States. This idiocy turned many average citizens into criminals. Death from alcohol poisoning reached epidemic levels. At least the country was smart enough to recognize the mistake and the 21st Amendment repealed the 18th.
The House of Representatives has always been elected by popular vote, and is not affected by the 17th Amendment. For the House, I would strongly recommend campaign spending reform limiting all campaign donations to only individuals and corporations that reside within the district represented by the elected official.
This reform should apply to campaign donations at all levels of government. The biggest problems are at the federal level, but it should apply to the state and local levels as well. I am a county supervisor for district 4 in our county. I am sure the people living in district 4 want me representing their interests and not some national special interest group that wants to buy my vote.
These changes would give power back to the states and limit the power of special interest groups. We need to take back our country from the political elite. The political elite is only concerned with expanding the federal government and increasing their power. They are not concerned with the working middle class that made this country great. It is time to fight back.