The two items that stand out the most are Sobran’s assessment of the 16th and 17th amendments as tyrannical in nature. As I understand him, the 16th amendment, which establishes income tax, represents the first time that individual citizens became directly accountable to the federal government under the Constitution. And the 17th amendment, which changed the electors of Senators from state legislators to citizens, represents a removal of the representation of state interests. In my own words, the implication is that these two amendments, taken together, constitute a 1-2 punch against state sovereignty. First punch, create a direct jurisdiction between the federal level of government and the people by financial means. Second punch, render the original overseer of the people, the state, an ineffective middleman by removing his own representation on the federal level. Out of simple curiosity, I did a simple search on the 17th amendment through Wikipedia, which indicated that part of the impetus behind the amendment was that some state legislatures were so deadlocked by party strife in the latter half of the 1800s that they did not, at times, send any representation to the Senate. In other words, conflict between political parties had rendered some state legislatures impotent as electors. My own experience today is that most discussions of politics between individual citizens are so laden with party contention and strife as to render many citizens impotent as electors as well. It would seem that a discussion of political principles, removed from the passions and interests of parties, is warranted on both the individual and the state level in order to take steps towards returning to the balance between state and federal sovereignty that the framers of the Constitution envisioned.

Eric Colby

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