Have you ever wondered why the U.S. Senate (and Congress) in general is so out of touch with the people? Why does it feel like they serve other interests other than the will of the people?
Answer: The Senate was never intended to serve the people. It was intended to serve the rich.
James Madison’s statements on the Senate from Federal Convention of 1787 are truly insightful:
The landed interest, at present, is prevalent; but in process of time, when we approximate to the states and kingdoms of Europe, — when the number of landholders shall be comparatively small, through the various means of trade and manufactures, will not the landed interest be overbalanced in future elections, and unless wisely provided against, what will become of your government? In England, at this day, if elections were open to all classes of people, the property of landed proprietors would be insecure. An agrarian law would soon take place. If these observations be just, our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority. The Senate, therefore, ought to be this body; and to answer these purposes, they ought to have permanency and stability.
Members of the Constitutional Convention considered the Senate to be parallel to the British House of Lords which was composed of un-elected, land-owning men only. This was, of course, to ensure the protection of their property against the “majority” of the people.
In turn, Senators were never elected by the public. They were elected by the State legislatures. It took a constitutional amendment to change this rule imposed on the people by the founding fathers.
The reason for this amendment? Corruption and deadlocks. There was a sense that senatorial elections were bought and sold. The election of such powerful persons was so important that State legislatures became dominated by the business of picking senators.
The 17th Amendment to the Constitution established the popular election of U.S. Senators by the people. The amendment was adopted in 1913 with the first public election held in 1914.
Do the math. As intended by our great leaders, the U.S. went ~125 years without any public elections to the Senate.
So, if it feels that the Senate has other interests, please be patient. They’ve only recently been asked to serve their constituents 🙂
Thanks for reading,
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