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Senate to return to Republican control?

Discussion in 'Alley of Lingering Sighs' started by Carcaroth, Dec 19, 2006.

  1. Carcaroth

    Carcaroth I call on the priests, saints and dancin' girls ★ SPS Account Holder

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    It would appear that the Republicans have a chance to steel the Senate back.
    Democrat senator Tim Johnson, (South Dakota) is currently in hospital having had bleeding on the brain, possibly caused by a stroke. Although he appears to be recovering, if he decides to retire due to ill health (and I can't find any information on whether this is likely), his successor is appointed by the Governor of South Dakota, a Republican. The probability is therefore that Republican senator will be appointed, and the Senate goes back to Republican control.

    BBC Link

    I haven't been able to find any colaboration, but if true, this is an absolute travesty of American democracy. The public have voted for a party and to have it overturned by a single individual of an opposing party is appalling - particularly as I believe he wasn't even up for re-election this year, and given the voting may no longer be representative of the political preferences of his voters.

    At least in the UK, parliamentary seats that are unexpectedly vacated go up for By-elections and the public have a chance to vote again.
     
  2. The Great Snook Gems: 31/31
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    I am offended by your use of the word steal (I think that is the word you wanted). This has happened before and has caused Congress to flip in the other direction too.

    You seem to forget that the same people who elected a Democrat Senator also voted for the Republican Governor who has the power of appointment.
     
  3. Darkwolf Gems: 18/31
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    Wow, if there was ever an indication that a Republic is in trouble it is that statement. Not attacking you Carcaroth, this is a common public sentiment. We really have to get away from thinking that we are voting for parties as start voting for individuals.

    Normally I would be offended by an elected official being replaced without an election, but in this case we are talking about a Senator, and IMO Senators should not be elected officials anyway. We should have never ratified the 17th Amendment in 1913 (or there about) as we unbalanced the design the founding fathers had created. The people had direct representation in Congress (the House of Representatives), and the States had representation though the Senate. Now without representation for the States the Fedral government has ursurped many powers that it has no right to.

    Just my :2c: :deadhorse:
     
  4. T2Bruno

    T2Bruno The only source of knowledge is experience Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    It the way we do things here. Period. It is not a travesty, not stealing, and not unfair. It has happened several time in history and is not a bad thing.

    Elections are quite disruptive. Putting someone in the senate with that state's best interest in mind is far better than delaying for another election (for that state). It may not be best for the Democratic party, but it is best for the state of South Dakota.
     
  5. Dinsdale Gems: 13/31
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    I agree with you on both counts, Darkwolf. Party line voting is a huge problem in this country. The 17th amendment should be repealed.
     
  6. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    The other thing to consider is that they would probably have some type of supplemental election during the next cycle. I seriously doubt that the governor can appoint a new senator, and that senator would serve out the full 6-year term without having been voted in by the people. Far more likely, he would serve on the Senate until November 07 (or at worst, the next Congressional elections of November 08) at which point he would have to run to hold his seat for the remainder of the term.

    That having been said, I agree in principle with what Darkwolf and T2B have said - it is much better for the seat to be filled than have it lie vacant until the next election process.

    Also, I find it odd that people are saying that it isn't fair because the person will be appointed and not have to run. If Sen Johnson is unable to fulfill his duties, than no matter who they appoint - regardless of Democrat, Republican or Independent - will not have been elected, and there's no way for someone new to be elected until the next election (and I've already covered that).
     
  7. Carcaroth

    Carcaroth I call on the priests, saints and dancin' girls ★ SPS Account Holder

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    TGS,
    I would object to it just as strongly if it happened the other way round. I am not particulalry anti-republican, just anti-Bush. I understand that they have an elected republican governor, and I'm sure for good reasons, but I sincerely doubt many people even considered the liklihood.

    DW,
    I completely agree as a preference, but realsitically, how often do "Individuals" actually vote against their party?
    If it was otherwise, the 50 majority requirement in the senate would be largely irrelevant, as you'd very rarely get that many to agree on anything. If you're got an elected body, they should be representative of what people actually voted for, and if I understand it correctly, the Senate has as much say in American policy and its effect on the people, as the House of Representatives.

    T2B
    I would be extremely pee'd off if the person I had voted for and got elected was replaced with someone with a different set of political principles. It would sincerely make me wonder what the point of voting for in the first place was.
    I've never particularly noticed by-elections in the UK being "disruptive".

    Aldeth
    I was only going on what was stated in the article, which is that the Governor appoints the successor and therfore the vote in the Senate.

    All,
    Yes I still consider it "Stealing", the same as stealing a base in baseball - i.e. not by the normally expected/excepted means of getting there. I did not mean to imply it was illegal.

    Something else to consider:
    When it is so easy to rebalance the entire political spectrum through the death of just one person, is it any wonder that so many conspiracy theories abound?
     
  8. Morgoroth

    Morgoroth Just because I happen to have tentacles, it doesn'

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    I'm not very sure how this is done in Finland, I think the place in the parliament will just sit empty, but our form of government is on the other hand quite different from that of the United States and the loss of one seat should not matter too much.

    However I don't see this as undemocratic at all. It might be appropriate for the senator himself to appoint a successor and perhaps even better but the governor is the next best choice. Staging new elections would not do. I do think that it might be reasonable to elect a new senator during the next round when senators are elected.
     
  9. JSBB Gems: 31/31
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    @ Aldeth, in many other countries when an elected official dies or resigns his/her seat then the seat would remain vacant until a bi-election could be held. In Canada that would normally take a month or two. The person who wins the bi-election serves until the next full election.
     
  10. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    That would make sense, but obviously such is not the case here, as the governor makes an appointment. What I was saying is that Sen Johnson just won his seat in November, and it's a six-year term. All senators are elected to six year terms, but they are not all up for re-election at the same time. 1/3 of the Senate is up for re-election every two years.

    What I was saying is if there is a governor appointment, the new senator likely would not serve out Sen Johnson's term until 2012. Instead, I imagine that there would be a supplemental election next November where the citizens of SD would formally elect someone to complete the term until 2012. I was suggesting that an appointment like this would be an "interim" senator for lack of a better word.
     
  11. Chandos the Red

    Chandos the Red This Wheel's on Fire

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    Why? And do you know what it takes to pass a Constitutional Amendment?

    In regards to "the way the Founders intended," I would draw your attention to Thomas Jefferson's statement that "the people have the right to change their government whenever it no longer suits them." Jefferson's credentials as a Founder are probably unchallenged, even though he was not at the Contitutional Convention. The Founders intended that the Constitution may need to be changed at some point. That is why they built in a process for change.
     
  12. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    Actually, I just took the time to look up the 17th amendment, and according to the text, the governor of the state does in fact make a temporary appointment:

    BOLD AND ITALICS ADDED BY ME:

    Anyway, I still think it is perfectly reasonable for the governor of a given state to appoint a replacement on a temporary basis. Given taht it takes a while for canidates to organize campaigns, get their message out to the people, etc., if Sen Johnson is unable to fulfill his duties, I think an appointment through the end of November 07 (the next election) would be perfectly reasonable. In fact, the new appointee would likely be one of the people who would run on the next ballot.
     
  13. Darkwolf Gems: 18/31
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    Chandos,

    I agree that the people should have the right to change the government when it no longer suits them...I also reserve the right to judge whether or not such changes were good things or not. If memory serves, the 17th Amendment was passed as a knee jerk reaction to several scandals in the Senate at the time. Instead of holding the elected officials at the state level responsible for sending poor representation, the people, who were largely ignorant in their understanding of how/why and of the brilliance of the founding fathers in the creation of our form of government, mucked up the balance that had been established between the powers of the state and the federal government.

    I am judging the 17th amendment in hindsight, which of course is always easier. I am sure that at the time the 17th amendment seemed like a good idea. However,since its passage, the powers of the states have been steadily usurped by the federal government, in large part because there is no longer a body of government whose job is to represent the states. The fact is that the founding fathers for the most part looked at the states as individual nations that were linked together in a "union". At the time of the founding of this nation Governors were supposed to have much greater power than Congressional members...but in today's world I think most people would believe that their Senator is much more powerful than their Governor.

    I believe that if the Governors and State Legislators were still allowed to choose their Senators many of the federal laws that are on the books would not exist, that the federal government would be much smaller in size, that we wouldn't be having discussions of the federal government eroding away our Constitutional rights, and that the states would be taking care of many of the things that have been passed off to the federal government and would be doing a much better job of them. For instance, I don't think that the people of Alaska would have voted for a multi-million dollar bridge to an island that only had a hand-full of rich families living on it if it were to have come out of the state budget. I don't think they would have supported any state legislators who voted for it either. Since in reality it is coming from the federal budget the people of Alaska have no problem with it.

    The problem with leaving an empty seat in our form of government is that it would leave a large body of people without representation, even for a short time. You have to remember that much of the identity of our nation is based upon the idea that everyone is represented in the government, and the American people get very upset if they loose representation even for a short time. An elected official's poor attendance record can be the primary reason for their defeat in an election. Even if that person has a great history of making important votes, voting the way the majority of the people he/she represents, and brings great things to their district, their attendance alone can be enough to end up in their losing their seat. Attendance is a very common theme in campaigns in the US.
     
  14. Dendri Gems: 20/31
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    Hmm. To me this seems highly undemocratic as the voter's expressed will is effectively bypassed, made obsolet. I know I would find that more upsetting (unacceptable, really) than going without representation for a short while. Beats a distortion, a misrepresentation, anytime.
    Must be very frustrating.
     
  15. Hacken Slash

    Hacken Slash OK... can you see me now?

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    Elected officials do not hold office to represent the views of constituents, rather their interests and welfare. You could easily say that a governor in appointing a replacement is still representing the interests of the constituents, as the governor her/himself is an elected official.
     
  16. Chandos the Red

    Chandos the Red This Wheel's on Fire

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    That must have been some knee jerk reaction to pass the stiff requirements of amending the Constitution. Also:

    To be sure the Civil War greatly changed the face of American politics. Whether or not that is a scandal depends upon how one views the changes. Considering the lack of representation for the people, I would say it was a pretty good move. I don't agree that it was a "knee jerk" reaction once one considers the alternative.

    Well, that was the old Articles of Confederation. The Consitution and its Convention were crafted to form a "more perfect Union," according to its own opening statement. Whether or not you view that as a good thing depends on where you think the center of power should reside - at the federal level, or with the states. I would direct you to some of the remarkks made in the Anti-Fedrealist papers, such as those by Patrick Henry, who for the most part, opposed ratification of the Constitution. In his later years he became a hard-core Federalist, but not until the addition of the first ten Amendments to the Constitution, otherwise known as the Bill of Rights. But for the most part you will find that he shares your views reagrding the center of power.

    [ December 21, 2006, 07:15: Message edited by: Chandos the Red ]
     
  17. joacqin

    joacqin Confused Jerk Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    I think this thread has highlighted another major difference between the US and many parts of Europe and I apologize in advance for going slightly off-topic. It was mentioned in this thread party line voting was bad while voting for a person is good. Me and many others have the direct opposite view. I find voting for a person to be superficial and uncertain while voting for a party, with the organisation and ideologi that comes with it seems like a more reasonable thing. You know what you get and you know what you vote for while when you vote for a specific individual it can be pretty much anything. Voting for a party feels for me more like voting for the ideas and the politics than voting for the individual. When voting for the individual so many irrelevent points become more important than the politics, silly stuff like appearance and personal relations which really should have no bearing on the politics.

    I see a much bigger danger with personalized politics than with voting for parties, much more leeway for charismatic individuals to grasp unbalanced amounts of powers. A single lunatic can much easily get into a position of power when you vote for persons than when you vote for a party, if it is the party that has the public support one would hope that even if there are some loonies aroudn there are enough sane people to keep hte loonies in check.
     
  18. Equester Gems: 18/31
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    I somewhat agrees with Joacqin on it, but i think he forgets the big difference between the US system and the swedish system. where the US has the winnner takes all, which promotes a two party system, we in Denmark and sweden has, the multiparty goverments, that at least to a wider degree allows more then two parties to have power.
     
  19. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    I see your point, but isn't this an eventuality in European politics as well? My basic understanding of how party voting works is this (and I certainly stand to be corrected):

    You vote for a particular party, and the party with the most votes gets the most seats in Parliament. Sometimes by themselves, but more often through the forming of a coalition, one or more parties are the controlling focus of the government. The party with the most seats then appoints a prime minister, who is an individual that is in a position of great power, that likely got in that position in no small measure due to his personal charisma. Unless there is some system in place that guarantees a charismatic lunatic never gets appointed as prime minister, then it doesn't seem to me that the European system in any way is better.
     
  20. joacqin

    joacqin Confused Jerk Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Of course charismatic lunatics cna get power with party politics as well but the parties are big organisations consiting of many individuals all with agendas of their own united by a loose common goal. If the appointed leader starts doing funky stuff the party itself have the power to remove him/her together with the electorate. In practice it means that the party system have "two checks" on loony persons while the person system only has one. Man this sounds fuzzy.
     
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