The Arizona Democratic Party is slamming Paul Gosar for his criticism of the 17th Amendment. Here he is, as quoted by them, at an event with Hugh Hewitt:
There’s an unintended consequence when you change this document (holds up a copy of the Constitution). I bring up the 17th Amendment. … Prior to the 17th Amendment, our senators came from our statehouse. … And you look at some of the problems we now have in what I call our senior circuit, the U.S. Senate — five years you can do whatever you want and then that last year you can go ahead and campaign to try and get re-election. … So I’m not in favor of that.
Opposition to direct election of senators has been on the back burner among movement conservatives for a while. Former Rep. Barbara Blewster used to talk about it, and just last session, Dave Stevens brought up a piece of legislation giving the legislature the power to name party nominees for the senate.
Two things are at work here: one is that what Gosar is saying is that the voters (he means you) have done a poor job of picking our senators, and this job would be better left to our wise leaders like Sylvia Allen and Russell Pearce. We voters, Gosar thinks, are too flighty and unreflective to choose who represents us in the upper chamber. Of course, these are the same people who he hopes will pick him for the lower chamber.
(If Gosar wins, will he use that as evidence that the voters don’t know what they are doing?)
The second thing at work is an attempt to wipe out any of the advances that were made in the early part of the last century. We have candidates in other states talking about getting rid of minimum wage laws, for example. Lefties wring their hands about rolling the clock back to the fifties, but it’s like these guys want to go back further than that. All that talk from Glenn Beck trashing progressivism, the social gospel, Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt isn’t just some annoying sideshow: they are serious about this wingnuttery.
Another part of this is the ignorance of the history of the state that Gosar hopes to represent. Arizona was a hotbed of progressivism when we achieved statehood. So much so that we adopted language mandating a binding election for the US Senate before the 17th Amendment was passed. He can find that that language is still in the state constitution, unless he has the same aversion to reading our state constitution as most Arizona Republicans. So, even if Gosar got his wish, the great unwashed mob would likely still get to choose their senator in his own state.