Sen. Hatch and the case against the 17th Amendment

Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not those of St. George News.

OPINION – The dividing line in many of the Utah Republican caucuses last week was whether or not Sen. Orrin Hatch should be re-elected to his seventh term.

Hatch supporters are adamant that they don’t want to lose his seniority in the U.S. Senate along with his political clout in Washington D.C. Industries and individuals hoping to benefit from Hatch’s leadership are counting on the senator to use his considerable influence with the federal government to give them political benefits or protection.

At the root of this type of thinking is the presumption that there’s something in it for them. And therein lies the problem.

The only way to accrue the kind of standing and power that Orrin Hatch ostensibly wields is by gaining the acceptance of Beltway power brokers. The price of that acceptance has required Senator Hatch to show allegiance to Washington D.C. rather than the state of Utah.

This explains, in part, how a senator who is perceived as a conservative champion of constitutional government could lend his support to policies that favor Washington at the expense of the states and their citizens.

During his time in Washington D.C., Hatch has supported bailouts of Wall Street, the auto industry, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He has expanded the federal government’s role over healthcare. While championing the cause of a balanced federal budget, Hatch has voted to raise the federal debt limit sixteen times.

But most disturbing of all, Hatch has voted for blatantly unconstitutional expansions of federal power like the recent National Defense Authorization Act or NDAA. Under the guise of funding U.S. military operations worldwide, S. 1867 also contained language allowing the Executive branch to indefinitely detain any person, anywhere in the world, without due process or trial. This is in addition to supporting the PATRIOT Act, the Military Commission Act of 2006, and a host of other legislative initiatives that have created a burgeoning police state here at home.

In each of these examples, Sen. Hatch used his allegiance to enlarge and consolidate the power of the federal government. His mollifying words and lyrics regarding love of freedom, preservation of liberty and constitutional government simply do not align with his actions. This doesn’t make him malicious or ignorant, but it does illustrate a growing imbalance of power that has been developing for nearly 100 years.

The 17th Amendment, ratified in 1913, changed the way that federal senators were elected to the Senate. Prior to this amendment, senators were either elected or appointed by the legislatures of their respective states. Under the 17th Amendment, senators are now elected by popular vote.

While on the surface this seems to give the people a voice they previously lacked, in reality it was one of the final nails in the coffin of state representation at the federal level. When senators were directly accountable to the legislators of the states, their allegiance, and therefore their representation, naturally leaned toward their state’s interests. But when that accountability was removed, their allegiance predictably shifted to the federal government and the interests within the Beltway.

Senator Hatch could be the poster boy for how this shift has created a body of national legislators who act and think more like a type of political royalty than as statesmen protecting the interests of their home states.

With runaway federal spending growing the national debt to over $15 trillion in just a few short years, it’s clear that Washington D.C.’s spending habits are unsustainable in the long term. But that hasn’t discouraged favor-seekers from trying to milk the system for all its worth before the party comes to an end. They are less concerned about the principles of good government than they are about using Senator Hatch’s influence to gain benefits.

On the other hand, there are voters who recognize that the only long-term fix for our nation’s woes is found in upholding the Constitution, limiting government and preserving principles of individual liberty. These constituents can no longer give their support to a man that has sworn to uphold the Constitution but has repeatedly violated it instead.

Hatch’s Senate race will ultimately establish whether Utah voters are more interested in power or principle

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twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright 2012 St. George News.

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  • Michael March 19, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Thank you for the article, finally someone talks about the NDAA and the loads of unconstitutional garbage that Sen. Hatch and many other supposed “conservatives” support. It’s time we look at these people’s actions more than their words – the same goes with Mitt Romney and all politicians – look at what they have actually voted for, not what they say.

  • Robert March 19, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Great article.

    “We want Hatch because he gives us money” seems to be the cry of those supporting his 7th run for Senate. Who’s money is it anyway?

  • Mark March 19, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Once again my friend you are spot on! The cesspool that is DC can do with one less smarmy snake; Hatch needs to retire as in NOW! Like any vermin he will say and do whatever is necessary to maintain his spot in the slime. Based on his votes over the past years his is NOT a champion of the constitution OR of freedom!

  • Allen L. March 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    I enjoyed this because it was not political mudslinging.

    From what I’ve observed Hatch’s actions politically and otherwise show his devotion to Federal power and control and not to Utah and our citizens. The fact that he was not aware of our solution to the Medicare issue and not involved with our submission to Washington, which would have officially allowed us to handle it independently, shows this lack of concern. As soon as he found out, due to his beginning to campaign and his desire to retain his office, he decided to address Medicare through and from Washington D.C. which is counter to the whole effort.

    Political action is continuously taken as far away from the people as possible. This is the opposite of good government. When people are showing abilities to be self-reliant and even when they aren’t they should be able and encouraged (not through financial encouragement) to do so.

    Aside from his embarrassing voting record for increasing the power and control of the central government, if you were to sit down with each Utah legislator and discuss Hatch’s relationship to Utah, I believe you would learn why he is not representing us. He has not known nor has he wanted to know what Utah has been doing to solve our own problems.

  • Dave D. March 19, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Want to hear a conspiracy theory? Hatch knows that he is doomed to follow the path of Bennett. The people who follow politics and know his record are out to get him at the caucuses. What to do? I know, let’s water down the caucuses with good ol’ LDS types who don’t really follow in-depth politics but will just elect delegates who will continue the status quo. How? Hmmm. I know, let’s bend the ear of someone in church leadership who will put out a call for all LDS to do their patriotic duty and attend. The brethren can’t have an argument with that. Let’s have each bishop in Utah read the statement over the pulpit for several weeks so everyone gets the message. In fact, let the church cancel all meetings regularly scheduled for that night to make it easier. And it was so. These caucuses had three times the number that regularly attend. Mine was just like a church social…. no debates, just a general agreement that Hatch and Romney needed to be elected. Wasn’t that nice? Some one should have brought jello.

  • Jacob Dean March 19, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    I feel so liberated when someone identifies the loss of liberty with the 17th amendment. The Voters of/in the American populous (what Montesquieu would call the “democracy”) are ill equipped to deal with the practical application of economic law. The natural Aristocracy (the successful business man with the house on the hill) should be the ones creating local economic law and policy, but they need the right type of accountability so they do not overstep bounds and vote themselves favors. Both the democracy, and the aristocracy will vote themselves favors at the expense of liberty. So- a State appointed senate removes the poor man voters tendency to vote himself favors out of the national treasury by picking senators who are “benevolent tyrants” full of promises for the sake of re-election, and it makes the senator accountable to state legislature instead of the lobbyists and special interests oligarchies. The value is that it still puts an aristocrat in the seat -who knows economy. – but he is held accountable.

    to speak of forms rather than issues- Hatch is the natural result of letting the “democracy” pick the economic law maker.

    The founders sure knew what they were doing –

    Thank You SO MUCH for seeing and deliberating on this conundrum by way of its real problem.

    The 17th amendment is the single most destructive piece of legislature in the history of our Nation. And it will/has surely accelerate/ed the failure of our national sovereignty!

  • William March 19, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    Well stated. The 17th was in fact adopted under the guise of eradicating corruption of senators. In reality it was a ploy to foster progressivism, along with other similar amendments of the 1900 to 1930 era. Sadly, it was Idaho’s senator at the time that pushed for the 17th amendment.
    Senator Hatch is in my humble opinion one of the most honest men in Washington DC. Yet, because he is also the most successful senator in getting new legislation passed he needs to be replaced with a less centrist candidate.

  • Firefly March 20, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    I cannot add to what has been previoulsy posted, except…RETIRE HATCH 2012!!

  • Travis March 23, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    McCausland for Senate 2012 !!

  • Fred March 24, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Great article Bryan.

    I agree with you. A lot of people don’t know that Hatch voted for the NDAA. This is an outrage. Why would he do this? I used to be a great Hatch supporter but not now. Our Congressmen and Senators have sold their selves out to Obama.

    I know that Hatch sent out letters to people saying Obama’s Birth Certificate is legitimate and to “don’t believe what you read on the internet”. Were our representatives threatened or paid off not to expose this fraud in the White House. Suspicious SSA#, Selective Service under investigation by Sheriff Arpiao, his SEALED records and so much more.

    Also why don’t our elected representatives call for Eric (don’t prosecute Panthers) Holder to resign and be prosecuted for Fast and Furious.

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