Much Needed Changes

As the presidential primaries and caucuses continue and campaigns for the House and Senate start, I have to admit to feeling we will be seeing a crop of candidates that will fail to measure up to even some of the more minimal standards that define 'reasonably qualified', at least in my eyes.

Of all the elections years I have experienced over the past 44 years, I have to say that this one fills me with dismay...and perhaps a bit of dread.

I have to admit that one of my biggest gripes about our electoral system, at least at the national level, is there there is no way to show our displeasure at the candidates running except by two wholly inadequate means:

Voting for the 'other' guy even though they aren't all that much better than they guy we're against. (To be politically correct, by 'guy' I mean man or woman.)

Staying home and not voting at all.

Neither is acceptable to me any more. It does not allow us to say to the nation “Both of these candidates stink! We don't want either of them!” This of course applies to elective offices where there are more than two candidates running for that particular office, but you get the picture.

I won't be the first one to voice this opinion. I doubt I'll be the last. But I think it's time to seriously consider this option, that being making “None of the Above” a legitimate selection on the ballot. Let me explain.

First, it would likely require an Amendment to the US Constitution, though I am not sure. It might only require a change in the election laws to do so. That is something someone versed in election law could address far better than I.

Second, any such amendment should be limited to federal elective offices which means the House of Representatives, the Senate, Vice President, and President. If the states want to follow suit, let them do so by amending their respective constitutions and/or state election laws.

Third, if “None of the Above” wins above all other candidates, then a new election will be required to fill the office. One important part of this is that none of the candidates on the first ballot will be eligible to run on the second ballot. An entirely new batch of candidates would be needed to run for the second attempt because we already know none from the first batch were acceptable to the voters.

More than a few folks I spoke to over the past few days about this are in favor of a “None of the Above” option. If nothing else it gives those who are presently unable to display their displeasure a voice that until now has been ignored.

Another thing for us to consider is changing how we elect our US Senators.

Since the ratification of the 17th Amendment, Senators have been elected directly by the voters, the same as members of the House of Representatives. This has, in my opinion, made the Senate nothing more than just a more 'uppity' version of the House. The senators are not beholden to their states or constituents, but to those who helped finance their campaigns. While the idea behind the 17th Amendment was to make the Senate more flexible and less beholden to the many states, it has proven to be (to me at least) a failure. The members of the Senate are, in fact, nothing more than 'super-representatives' in Congress. This was not the intent of the Founders.

I believe it is time to repeal the 17th Amendment and return election of senators to the state legislatures. Senators should be working for their home states, should be beholden to their home states and not to the likes of the various special interests who gave them millions in campaign contributions. The 17th Amendment is a dismal failure and has caused far more harm than it was supposed to prevent.

I think it is about time to seriously consider these changes because they are long overdue.