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Our founding fathers did a remarkable job in drafting the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  Their work was so superb that in the 217 years since the ratification of the Bill of Rights, the Constitution has only been amended 17 times, and one of those amendments struck down an earlier amendment (prohibition).  But every so often, a situation arises that so clearly exposes a flaw in our constitutional structure that it requires a constitutional remedy.  

Over the past several months, our country has witnessed controversies surrounding appointments to vacant Senate seats by governors.  The vacancies in Illinois and New York have made for riveting political theater, but lost in the seemingly endless string of press conferences and surprise revelations is the basic fact that the citizens of these states have had no say in who should represent them in the Senate.  The same is true of the recent selections in Delaware and Colorado.  That is why I will introduce a constitutional amendment this week to end gubernatorial appointments to the U.S. Senate and require special elections to fill these vacancies, as is currently required for House vacancies.  As Chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee, I plan to hold a hearing on this amendment soon.

I do not make this proposal lightly. In fact, I have opposed dozens of constitutional amendments during my time in the Senate, particularly those that would have interfered with the Bill of Rights.  The Constitution should not be treated like a rough draft.  Constitutional amendments should be considered only when a statutory remedy to a problem is not available, and when the impact of the issue at hand on the structure of our government, the safety, welfare, or freedoms of our citizens, or the survival of our democratic republic is so significant that an amendment is warranted.  This is such a case.

The fact that the people of four states, comprising over 12 percent of the entire population of the country, will be represented for the next two years by someone they did not elect is contrary to the purpose of the 17th Amendment, which provides for the direct election of Senators.  That is not to say that people appointed to Senate seats are not capable of serving, or will not do so honorably.  I have no reason to question the fitness for office of any of the most recent appointees, and I look forward to working with them.  But people who want to be a U.S. Senator should have to make their case to the people whom they want to represent, not just the occupant of the governor’s mansion. And the voters should choose them in the time-honored way that they choose the rest of the Congress of the United States.  

This proposal is not simply a response to these latest cases.  Those cases have simply confirmed my longstanding view that Senate appointments by state governors are an unfortunate relic of the time when state legislatures elected U.S. Senators.  This system was replaced by direct elections by the citizens of each state following the ratification of the 17th Amendment in 1913.  Direct election of Senators was championed by the great progressive Bob La Follette, who served as Wisconsin’s Governor and a U.S. Senator.  Indeed, my state of Wisconsin is now one of only three states (Oregon and Massachusetts are the others) that require a special election to fill a Senate vacancy.  But the vast majority of states still rely on the appointment system.  Changing this system state by state would be a long and difficult process, particularly since Governors have the power to veto state statutes that would take this power away from them.  We need to finish the job started by La Follette and other reformers nearly a century ago.  Nobody can represent the people in the House of Representatives without the approval of the voters.  The same should be true for the Senate.  

There are several precedents for amending the provisions of the Constitution that relate to the structure of government when events show that such amendment is needed.  The 22nd Amendment, limiting the presidency to two terms, passed in 1951 in response to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four-term presidency.  And the 25th Amendment, revising presidential succession, was passed in 1967 in response to confusion that occurred after the assassination of President Kennedy.

One objection I have heard to this proposal is the potential financial burden on the states that must pay for special elections.  As someone with a reputation for fiscal discipline, I always consider a proposal’s impact on the taxpayer.  But the cost to our democracy of continuing the anachronism of gubernatorial Senate appointments is far greater.  And weighing the costs associated with the most basic tenet of our democracy – the election of the government by the governed – sets us on a dangerous path.  Besides, the Constitution already requires special elections when a House seat becomes vacant, a far more frequent occurrence since there are so many more Representatives.

The bottom line must be ensuring a government that is as representative of and responsive to the people as possible.  The time to require special elections to fill Senate vacancies has come.  Congress should act quickly on this proposal, and send it to the states for ratification.


Thanks for the comments so far.  I’ll try to address some of the issues folks have been raising.

Some have suggested that gubernatorial appointments would be ok if a vacancy occurs close to an election.  While I understand their point, as the 17th Amendment demonstrates, we should be wary of carving out loopholes to the principle of direct election of Senators.  Inevitably, there will be some gap in representation while a special election is held.  If a state determines that it prefers to leave a seat vacant for a brief period of time until the next regularly scheduled election, that is up to the state.

Some people have posted comments saying that while they may agree with this idea, there are more important issues for the Congress to address.  My response to that is two fold – first, as now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told me when discussing the multiple challenges we face around the world, we can walk and chew gum at the same time.  The same would apply here.  This should not detract from Congress’ ability to tackle the important issues of the day like our great economic challenges and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Second, making sure that the Senate is representative of and responsive to the people ought to be a top priority for the Congress.   This is not a minor matter.

And in response to those who think this amendment will never pass, my initial response is:  of course it won’t, if we don’t even try.  The time to act on this is now.  As I mentioned in my post, other changes to our governmental structure have been made in response to specific events, like Franklin Roosevelt’s four-term presidency and the confusion following John F. Kennedy’s assassination.  The Seventeenth Amendment itself came about in part because the system for state legislatures appointing Senators had broken down – 45 appointments deadlocked over just a decade at the start of the 20th century.  The current state of the Senate – which has left 12 percent of Americans represented by Senators they did not have a hand in electing – is another such occasion.  It will be difficult, and it may take a long time, but for the sake of our democracy, it is well worth the effort.  

The Constitution provides an arduous process for constitutional amendments for good reason.  Both the House and the Senate must pass the amendment by a 2/3 margin, and ¾ of the states must ratify it. So there is plenty of time, and there are plenty of places, for citizens’ voices to be heard.  If the American people don’t agree with me, then this amendment won’t pass.  

**Update II

I’m happy to let you all know that Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) has come out in support of my proposed constitutional amendment.  Here is his statement:

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich announced today that he will co-sponsor a bill being introduced to amend the U.S. Constitution to end appointments to the U.S. Senate by governors. Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold plans to introduce legislation this week that would require special elections in the event of a Senate seat vacancy.

"I am pleased to support this legislation which is in line with what Alaska voters have already decided – that the only appropriate way to fill a U.S. Senate seat is by a vote of the people," Sen. Begich said. "The recent controversies in Illinois and New York only underscore the need for a process that allows the people to decide who they want to represent them in the U.S. Senate."

In November 2004, Alaska voters changed state law that had allowed gubernatorial appointments to the U.S Senate. The "Trust the People" initiative stripped the power of the governor to fill U.S. Senate vacancies, and put in place a provision to fill a vacancy with a special election to occur 60 to 90 days after the seat becomes vacant.

"I support Sen. Feingold’s attempt at making this process for filling Senate vacancies uniform across the states. A vote of the people is the only truly democratic way to decide these important seats," Begich said.

Special elections are already required to fill U.S. House seats.

Originally posted to Russ Feingold on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 08:51 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Right on Senator (230+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RichM, exsimo2, Sean Robertson, fcvaguy, MadRuth, Brainwrap, mattman, Yoshimi, nevadadem, akeitz, eyeswideopen, opinionated, bronte17, BlackSheep1, CoolOnion, greengrrl, oslo, nargel, luku, iowabosox, hopesprings, oldjohnbrown, brainwave, grannyhelen, snakelass, rockhound, lcrp, forrest, Eric Novinson, Oaktown Girl, bablhous, historys mysteries, 3goldens, Treg, NoMoreLies, bellevie, UFOH1, freakofsociety, blueyedace2, PsychoSavannah, frandor55, wildcat6, Dobber, GreyHawk, Wufacta, Rydra Wrong, The Raven, distraught, Flippant, Sister Havana, begone, Audio Guy, oldskooldem, trashablanca, MissInformation, Debbie in ME, Pinko Elephant, 417els, ferallike, Samwoman, greenearth, jasonbl, Eupraxsophist, imabluemerkin, mcmom, droogie6655321, profh, doingbusinessas, frankzappatista, shaharazade, Picot verde, coolsub, daeros, illusionmajik, ZenTrainer, Thinking Fella, bear83, RagingGurrl, blue armadillo, threegoal, Alfonso Nevarez, yoduuuh do or do not, unionboy, adamschloss, Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle, deepeco, newpioneer, Swill to Power, TerribleTom, grouchyfoglady, jayden, jedennis, crose, Newzie, rogereaton, rf7777, TomP, Casey in TN, VA Breeze, Spruce, bkamr, mconvente, sk4p, JaxDem, ShadowSD, Shahryar, oolali, mobiusein, soulonaroll, SoxFan04, IndyGirl, beltane, Lujane, geomoo, Punditcrat, ShempLugosi, mofembot, temptxan, Liberal Of Limeyland, Gemina13, PMA, TexanJane, mattc129, MinervainNH, Bartimaeus Blue, BYw, msdrown, CarolJ, allie123, psilocynic, goshzilla, ludwig van brickoven, shortgirl, ibinreno, bluegrass50, ChicagoStudent, cameoanne, multilee, rubyclaire, Psychotronicman, number nine dream, Texanomaly, ARS, litoralis, John Ely, eroded47095, Libertaria, RandomActsOfReason, pvlb, Richard Leo Madison, mkor7, makanda, BDsTrinity, followyourbliss, oxfdblue, bourgeoisie, allep10, marcirish, desnyder, elropsych, Green Karma, sherijr, math4barack, Colorado Billy, fraggle1, Morgaow, Lazar, glaukopis, jbjowe, YellerDog, BasketCase, oohdoiloveyou, RomeyDa, awcomeon, HKPhooey, fedupcitizen, ArtSchmart, robertacker13, eXtina, estreya, blueyescryinintherain, stunzeed, Crabby Abbey, klsb, Giles Goat Boy, AlexXx, JellyBearDemMom, legalchic, Dingodude, dissonantharmony, Anne933, Puddytat, scarlet slipper, xcave, asm121, Earth Ling, nycjoc, addisnana, Urtica dioica gracilis, The Sand People, farbuska, bushwhacked, xanjabu, Actbriniel, burndtdan, anaxiamander, no way lack of brain, Onomastic, CornSyrupAwareness, Kid G, askeptic, LordRobin, DoubleT, Stiffa, Olon, freesia, BlackQueen40, cyeko, thethinveil, trumpeter, Boise Grad, KDuffy, Cinnamon, okuzaone, ShowMeMoBlue, sjr1, dakinishir, terabthia2, COkdub, BWheeler

    Special elections all the way.

    I demand prosecutions for torture.

    by heart of a quince on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 08:53:29 AM PST

  •  One question (32+ / 0-)

    Is there any period for which you'd accept an appointed senator?  If a senator whose term expires in January 2011 dies in, say, June of 2010, would there be a special election (only five months before the scheduled election), a vacancy until January, or provision for a short-term appointment?

    I support the amendment but the devil is in the details.

    Al que no le guste el caldo, le dan dos tazas.

    by Rich in PA on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 08:55:04 AM PST

  •  I think this is the best way (31+ / 0-)

    I've written a diary about this very subject.

    Special elections might be expensive, but they limit the influence of corruption and are a more democratic option.

    Which is why I'm glad to see you suggesting it, Senator.

    •  O/T: Hi droogie (5+ / 0-)

      I just wanted to apologize for my rudeness to you last week.  for about 2 days, I was in an impossible mood and shouldn't have posted at all.

      On topic:  This is one of the few constitutional amendments with which I agree.  I think it would improve our democracy.  As long as no state would lack representation for more than a couple of months.

    •  I haven't read your diary yet (link?) (0+ / 0-)

      But I have a question.

      Couldn't this be done without an amendment? I thought the Senate has the power to decide who is seated. If the Senate passed a rule that all members must have been duly elected by the voters of their state, then then each state would have to comply by holding special elections.

      This seems so simple that I must be missing something.

      ••• CELEBRATE with America's BAraCK Stickers And T-Shirts •••

      by KingOneEye on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 10:18:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is a good idea. (17+ / 0-)

    Democracy matters.

    "What we've seen the last few days is nothing less than the final verdict on an economic philosophy that has completely failed." -- Barack Obama

    by TomP on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 08:56:14 AM PST

  •  Eh (8+ / 0-)

    I don't have particularly strong feelings one way or another.  There are more important amendements to push, such as statehood for D.C.

    "Our resolution reflects the will of the State of Israel." Harry Reid. 1/8/09

    by Paleo on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 08:56:55 AM PST

  •  Great Idea, Senator. (6+ / 0-)

    It is critical that the people have not only faith in their government, but responsibility for it. The only way that they can have both is if they are involved in the selection of those the represent them. This is especially true of the United States Senate, where there are only 100 representatives of the people.

    Getting Dems together and keeping them that way is like trying to herd cats, hopped up on crank, through LA, during an earthquake, in the rain. -6.25, -6.10

    by Something the Dog Said on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 08:57:55 AM PST

  •  Thank you Senator Feingold (7+ / 0-)

    I wonder what the opposition's excuse will be.

    Democracy versus money should be an easy call.

    Two things are worse than being fearful. Fearing being fearfull. And fearing the fear of being fearfull. Three maybe - Fearing....

    by SecondComing on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 08:58:13 AM PST

  •  Do we really (14+ / 0-)

    think this is a big enough problem to try and push a Constitutional Amendment? I'm curious what people think.

  •  I love this idea (6+ / 0-)

    I agree that times have changed and our living Constitution needs the occasional amendment to reflect our changing times.  Very few, very rare but very necessary.

    You are one of my Senate heros - keep up the great work and please, can you get the Democrats up there to derail the obstructionist Republicans or show them up for what they are?  A bit off track but we really need to show them for what they are.

    Thanks Sen Feingold.

  •  As you pointed out, Senator (5+ / 0-)

    recent events prove this amendment is needed.  

    As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. -John F. Kennedy

    by JaxDem on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 08:59:58 AM PST

  •  I support such an amendment, but suspect (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rogneid, JeffW

    the governors will not. Has any thought gone into how to resist governor-led pressure to maintain the status quo?

    Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking. -J.M. Keynes

    by elropsych on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:00:36 AM PST

  •  I think this is a good idea. (5+ / 0-)

    Amending the Constitution to allow direct election of Senators was probably made for good reasons -- like, umm, respecting the wishes of the people for whom those Senators will work.

    Good on you, Senator.


    We're not on the mountaintop yet, but we can see it, now.


    by Marc in KS on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:02:51 AM PST

  •  I don't think it is worth (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GN1927, Pluto, NearlyNormal, soms

    jacking around with the constitution.  The governor is elected and subject to political pressure if he makes a bad choice.  The current Illinois situation is a bizarre anomaly, and changes should not be based on that scenario ever happening again.

    My two cents.

  •  Thank you Senator Feingold (5+ / 0-)

    We are always able to count on you to do the right thing.

    "I have never missed Hunter S. Thompson, George Carlin and Abbie Hoffman more than I do today."

    by wv voice of reason on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:04:40 AM PST

  •  Awesome work Senator! n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, boofdah, BillyElliott
  •  Senator, here's my question. (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    musing85, GN1927, Pluto, royce, soms, fernan47

    First of all, you're my hero.  Period.

    Now, on to the subject.  It seems to me that the problem in NY and Illinois wasn't that the governor had the power to make the appointments, but that the governor failed in his duty to make the appointments.

    Therefore, it seems that the law is just fine, when followed.

    Also, the "machine" objection of some people is, IMHO, irrelevant, because that same machine is what got the governor popularly elected, and would most likely choose the popular winner of the Special Election.

    I agree with your first thought.  Let's leave Constitutional Amendments to issues that are really deserving.  Issues that are both national and non-temporal.

    •  i am generally dubious about messing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Neon Mama

      with the constitution during a reactionary and illiterate era filled with distrust.

      What has happened very recently seems more a reflection of this era than a structural problem.

      However, different laws in different states for the replacement of Senators is unnecessarily complicated.

      Fixing our voting system in toto is more pressing in my mind.

      If we had electronic voting that worked and/or mail in voting over a period of time, special elections would not be a burden.

      I am not against this idea in principle, but think the related issues need to be solved simultaneously.

      I am beyond intolerant of the voting problems that have surfaced in the past 8 years.  We need to fix that.

      We can make special elections a part of that voting reform.

      No chads, no dubious electronic systems.  Free postage for mail in ballots, etc.  All must be worked out before I would spend time on this.

      this ain't no party.. this ain't no disco.. this ain't no foolin'around..

      by fernan47 on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:19:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  In a change of government (4+ / 0-)

    such as we're going through now, with Democrats taking over the White House, there is one downside to special elections: 12% of the American people would not be represented AT ALL as the primaries and special elections play out (I'd assume 5-6 months?). In the current situation, that would mean unfilled, most likely Democratic, seats in the House and Senate as people are pulled for Cabinet and other posts. In the Senate, might this affect whether Dems are able to override a filibuster? If that problem could be solved, I'm all for special elections for the Senate.

    I'm supposed to write something here?

    by NYWheeler on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:08:49 AM PST

    •  also the problem of continuity of govt in event (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, Rogneid, thetadelta

      of a catastrophic occurrence. In the very rare event that multiple members of Congress were lost, what would be the mechanism for making sure we would have some kind of operational government in place until special elections could be held?

      I'm in favor of this idea, the people should always vote for their representation.

      "torture is the tool of the lazy, the stupid, and the pseudo-tough...the greatest recruiting tool that the terrorists have." Maj Gen Paul Eaton

      by whitewidow on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:54:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for posting, Senator (6+ / 0-)

    I'm afraid I don't support this Amendment to the Constitution.  The 17th Amendment already provides for elections while also allowing State legislatures to give an undemocratic power to the governor.  I believe it is each State's legislature duty which should determine whether or not to strip their citizens of choice in case of vacancy.  Two incredibly bolloxed appointments should not be the impetus for tinkering with the Constitution.  

    You'll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race. - G.B. Shaw, "Misalliance"

    by gchaucer2 on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:09:18 AM PST

  •  No, not an ammendment (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, Pluto, Neon Mama

    for the same reason you have voted against them in the past.  But what it will do is stimulate discussion and come up with potential solutions.  That I am all for.

    You cannot possibly provide for every permutation, but you can make sure the states put better programs in place.  And I'm speaking as a MN'an without representation.  On the other hand, Coleman never represented me anyway.

  •  as much as I may agree with you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rogneid, Boisepoet

    I think we may have more important issues to be addressing right now.  However, the problems with the appointment in IL certainly highlight the problem.

    I am an Edwards Democrat.

    by jsamuel on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:12:32 AM PST

    •  Not just IL, but NY as well (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, Rogneid

      and imagine how many good people were lost to Obama because he wouldn't want to appoint a Democrat who would be replaced in the Senate by a Republican?

      This is at least something Congress can consider, and it won't really take up a huge amount of time. The GOP might even support it because special elections tend to trend more conservative (might be a big drawback right there) and they could see this as a way of making a minor comeback.

    •  not just IL and NY, but all the appointments (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      As I have argued elsewhere, no one knows whether Burris, Gillibrand, Bennet and Kaufman will do a good job during the next two years, but we know that none of them would have won a competitive Democratic primary in their states.

      That alone justifies Senator Feingold's amendment.

      Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

      by desmoinesdem on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 12:22:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Here's my concern (7+ / 0-)

    The 17th Amdt itself was passed in the wake of scandal -- allegations that a Senator appointed by the Illinois legislature had bribed his way into his post.  Should we cool off a little before deciding if there's a structural problem worthy of this level of reaction?

    •  On something such as this, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      desmoinesdem, 3goldens

      something that increases the level of democracy in the system, I'm of the belief that it needs to be brought up while the need for change is a the forefront of people's thinking (to the extent that something like this ever is, anyway).  There will always be something else "more important" down the road which will shove it to the back burner. Besides, if it were to fail now, when it has its best chance of ratification, then we will know that it's either a terrible idea or one that will likely never get anywhere at any time.

      Moving it now not only gives it a chance of passage, but the opportunity to discover that it may not be that good an idea after all.

      In vino veritas

      by GOTV on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:46:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Senate seats are treated differently for a reason (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Adam B, thetadelta

      Governors are empowered to temporarily fill seats until the next general election -- not necessarily for the remainder of the term. There's a reason for doing that -- it's far easier to have a special election to fill Congressional seats.

      That's true for a number of reasons -- the public expense, and the logistical complexity in campaigning contrast to the relative simplicity of running and reaching the voters in a congressional district. Moreover, there are over 400 Congresspersons -- if a few seats remain open for a few months, it's not such a big deal. It has less of an impact on the state and national affairs than does a vacancy in the Senate.

      There are problems with having a Governor appoint the new Senator, but I wonder if having a vote will improve that situation. Paterson was considering Kennedy and Cuomo. There was great hue and cry about the power of celebrity and dynasties. However, a Governor could look beyond that. I'm not sure that the public would really have that chance. If there were a special election in NY, it seems to me that only Kennedy and Cuomo would be viable candidates. No one else could buy the same statewide name recognition in so short a time.

      Look at Colorado, where the Governor did not pick Salazar's brother to succeed him. Would the public have had a chance to reach beyond that dynastic choice to pick someone like Bennet? Incumbency is a much bigger deal in the Senate, since an elected Senator sits for 6 years. Perhaps there's some value in having Governors vet the candidates? I'm not making an argument for doing away with all elections. I'm just wondering if there aren't good reasons for this one, temporary exception...

      I understand why people are disturbed by the process, because they don't know why the Governors involved made their choices. That is something to be concerned about, but would this proposed change simply create additional problems.

      Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

      by FischFry on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 11:30:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I tend to agree (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        3goldens, FischFry

        That said, the Constitution doesn't require that a special election even be held within two years; that's up to the state legislature.  The one fix I'd want to do is a minor one: require that the appointee be of the same party of the departed Senator.

        •  That's true... (0+ / 0-)

          But, the COnstitution expresses a preference for election, already -- and calls for "temproary appointments" only.

          "Clause 2. When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of each State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct."

          I can't say specifically, but I'd be surprised if many states -- or really any state -- did not provide for a special election, if the remaining portion of the term was more than two years (in many cases, if it's more than a year -- that's the rule of thumb for congressional seats). You will never fully eliminate the prospect of appointments, when the remaining term is only a few weeks or a couple of months -- unless you decide the seat must remain unfilled when there isn't really enough time for an election. So, is it really that much more disconcerting if the temporary appointment lasts for 22 months instead of, say, 2, 3 or 4 months?

          Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

          by FischFry on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 04:04:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I disagree with the party bit (0+ / 0-)

          Let's say Senator A was elected in 2006, but dies in 2009 or 2010. And, let's say the the voters have elected Governor B in the interim, but he's from a different party. You could argue that this suggests the voters prefer that party at the moment. Why respect the party of the earlier vote for Senator, over the later vote for the Governor, who has the responsibility to pick the Senator? If anything, the vote for Governor suggests that the voters would have wanted him to pick someone in his party -- otherwise they would have voted for the other gubernatorial candidate.

          Voters elect a person, not a party -- at least, under our system.

          The voters of West Virginia might keep voting for Jay Rockefeller, but if he went bye-bye, they'd want a Republican for that seat -- at least, you can be pretty sure, that's how they'd vote. I don't see why the Governor should have to pick a Democrat in that case.

          Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

          by FischFry on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 04:11:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I mean, you know the counter. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Senator A was chosen for a six-year term, not a "three years, and then change what you believe."  Why I like requiring the party maintenance is that it frees Presidents to choose Senators to serve in their administrations without regard to whether a seat would be lost.

    •  I don't think so (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      because all four of the most recent Senate appointments went to people who never would have won competitive statewide elections for that office.

      That alone justifies Senator Feingold's proposal.

      Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

      by desmoinesdem on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 12:23:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I disagree (0+ / 0-)

        First off, Gillibrand could well have won an open primary and statewide election in NYS.  Moreover, there's something about the Bennet appointment in particular that intrigues me.  Bright, wonky young guy (about whom I've heard tremendous things from connected CO friends) gets to serve in the Senate, then run for office.  Would Harris Wofford have become a Senator if he had to run first, and if not is that a problem?

  •  Of and for the people. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    paradox, 3goldens

    Novel concept after these last eight years. Dare we hope?

    Brenda,Joyce and Jimmy. These days are for you. Remembering your courage,intelligence, warmth and humor. 1971

    by redtex on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:14:12 AM PST

  •  Amending the Constitution (4+ / 0-)

    is a step that shouldn't be taken lightly. However, recent events in Illinois and New York seem to show that this has become necessary. I support this idea whether it's corruption or incompetence the Governor should not be able to hold this kind of influence over who represents the state in the Senate. Democracy was not well served in either instance.

    ~ Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase ~ Martin Luther King, Jr ~

    by vcmvo2 on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:16:55 AM PST

    •  Well how about an attempt to modify this.... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      taylormattd, GN1927, vcmvo2 the state legislatures first?

      We have massive problems that need to be resolved and addressed at the federal level.  I agree that there's an argument to be made for this kind of amendment.  It addresses a structural issue and there's certainly merit to the idea, but why not attempt to resolve it in the state legislatures first? It seems like an issue where there would be some bipartisan support.  

      What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.

      by Alec82 on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:20:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Has it been tried do you know? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        taylormattd, Alec82

        It seems a logical place to start but in the only state that I know (NY) the legislature is a good boy's club & until recently was fiercely Republican. So it probably never came up. Illinois and the other states like Delaware I know nothing about.

        But it is an interesting way to avoid amending the Constitution. Maybe if enough people are dissatisfied in the above states, the legislators themselves might suggest it.

        Good point.

        ~ Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase ~ Martin Luther King, Jr ~

        by vcmvo2 on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 10:09:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Could we write into the amendment that (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, Rogneid, quadmom

    the special election be done on the cheap, with mailed-in ballots?  That is, give everyone an absentee ballot and use that method?  This seems much cheaper than printing up ballots AND staffing the polling places.

    To say my fate is not tied to your fate is like saying, "Your end of the boat is sinking."--Hugh Downs

    by Dar Nirron on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:19:18 AM PST

  •  Good to see you back Senator. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Miss Blue, 3goldens, Rogneid, BillyElliott

    Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.- BHO

    by valadon on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:20:46 AM PST

  •  Much needed. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, Rogneid, Neon Mama, okuzaone

    Thank you.

    Next item on the agenda wish list - removing the ability for members of the Senate to place anonymous holds on appointments and legislation.

    How can the citizens of this country let their representatives know how they feel about these actions when the perpetrator is permitted to hide behind the veil of anonymity?  Transparency above all.  It's time to end this secret society nonsense and remind our legislators that they work for the citizens of this country and we have a right to know what they are doing and why.

    The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works...-President Obama

    by mentaldebris on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:21:13 AM PST

  •  special election with instant runoff? (5+ / 0-)

    that would cut short the need for a primary and thus make it a faster process overall.

    Tamino's Climate Analysis || Greenwald's Political Analysis

    by NeuvoLiberal on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:21:52 AM PST

  •  Make it Quick! Texas may be next!! n/t (3+ / 0-)

    Republicans - They Hate Us for Our Freedoms

    by mikeconwell on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:24:03 AM PST

  •  sounds lovely. But can we start with DC voting (8+ / 0-)

    rights first?  I don't doubt this is a worthwhile endeveavor, but it strikes me that the District of Columbia needs respresentation in Congress and that is a more urgent matter.

  •  while I agree in principle, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poemless, Neon Mama

    how would the candidates for the special election be chosen?  Would there need to be primaries in each party?  What about independent candidates?

    Seems like this could turn into a very drawn out process.

  •  I'm Sorry But My Prioritys Are Different (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GN1927, Pluto, Neon Mama, imchange, mkor7, soms

    Off the top of my head I can think of numerous issued that deserve a Amendment before this issue does Senator. Just to start it off how about a Constitutional Amendment demanding that when there is creditable evidence that Congress is bound to bring Impeachment charges ? Or a Constitutional Amendment demanding that War Crimes prosecuted ?

    Senator, I back much of what you have done in the past but this seems like busy work meant to distract the country from the hundreds of crimes that Congress doesn't have the balls to follow up on.

    President Theodore Roosevelt,"No man can take part in the torture of a human being without having his own moral nature permanently lowered."

    by SmileySam on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:28:25 AM PST

    •  three fourths of the states have to approve (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Do you seriously think 3/4ths of states would approve of that?

      "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

      by Skeptical Bastard on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:33:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  What I believe is that it is foolish (0+ / 0-)

        to hold a Constitutional Convention that will open the Constitution to all kinds of flakey changes just because Obama has chosen to seat more Congressmen and women to his cabinet and other post that ever before in history. This is more like a onetime event that is not worth opening our democracy to danger over. If every time some one time event happen, we run to change the most important doc., we will do more damage than good.
        And yes, I do believe 3/4 of the States would be willing to protect our democracy over the Senators idea, hands down.

        President Theodore Roosevelt,"No man can take part in the torture of a human being without having his own moral nature permanently lowered."

        by SmileySam on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 11:04:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  no Constitutional Convention is necessary (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          to pass an amendment.  We are not opening ourselves up to any "flakey changes" by introducing a simple straightforward change liek this. As long aas no other ideas are attached to it, it should pass fairly quickly and easily.

          "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

          by Skeptical Bastard on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 12:34:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I also believe that reviving the Equal Rights (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shpilk, LNK, Ice Blue, Neon Mama, imchange, soms

    Amendment to include equal rights for marriage, women and any other form of existing discrimination ias a major priority.

  •  Hear, hear! (4+ / 0-)

    As an Illinoisan, I wholeheartedly agree!

    "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

    by Skeptical Bastard on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:28:46 AM PST

  •  Great idea, Russ. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, Ice Blue, CanyonWren

    Thank you for this.

    I have not GBCWed. I'm just not commenting at present.

    by Bob Johnson on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:31:30 AM PST

  •  I don't know (4+ / 0-)

    On my top ten list, this would be towards the bottom.  

    I kind of think any special election, such as the one that Senator Feingold proposes, only benefits the political machine of each state since the turnout is so low.  

    Much rather see election reform in general, such as a National Voting Day every other year to increase turnout.  Standard vote by mail procedures, etc.

    "Barack, put Helen back in the front row"

    by egarratt on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:32:09 AM PST

  •  It's the economy Senator...let's not take our eye (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto, Neon Mama, imchange

    off that by proposing amendements to our Constitution just because Illinois elected an idiot as governor.

    Did you see the lay-offs announced today? Snowball effect has started. Please put all your energies into undoing BushCo's damage to our economy, and let the political theater of the moment fade into obscurity.

    "No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government. Always hopeful yet discontent, he knows changes aren't permanent. But change is." -Neil Peart

    by Boisepoet on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:32:58 AM PST

  •  If it will directly (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    affect the governors of the remaining states that have no special elections, is it possible that an amendment would pass? It seems like the amendment itself would be very expensive to pass and to get the votes needed with governors and their machines opposing.

    "ENOUGH!" - President Barack Hussein Obama

    by indiemcemopants on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:33:03 AM PST

  •  Primaries? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smkngman, Rogneid

    Ed Rendel was talking about this on Morning Joe this morning and made a few good points.  Presumably there would be no primaries?  So simply one D one R nominee, nominated by each party?  It seems like that would be only marginally better than the current situation - at least there would be SOME choice.

    It seems like if it's going to be opened up to a vote for this reason though, we can't simply stop at a nominee from each party, with no input from the voters on who the two nominees are.

  •  Political theater (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, chgobob, An Affirming Flame

    If there is any phrase to descrive the abominable mess that was made of things in Illinois and New York, this is it.  I fully support the effort, Sen. Feingold, and will do what I can to help get this passed.  

  •  I Propose a Moratorium on ALL Amendments... (5+ / 0-) the Constitution of the United States -- until the Constitution itself is put back into play.

    Your Amendment is a back burner issue.

    The people who allowed the current Constitution to be corrupted were duly elected, thank you very much.

    I would encourage you, Senator Feingold, to work on restoring the Constitution we have. Once that's in place, you can start to add these "emergency" amendments to your heart's content.

    We've voted and voted and voted -- and that did not protect us from having our nation pushed to the brink of a failed state. The representatives who betrayed us were "elected." So much for that tired canard.

    Hitch your wagon to a meaningful star. Roll up your sleeves and get to work on our current problems. The politicking dog isn't hunting all that well anymore.

  •  Keep kicking a**, Russ! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You have been the lone voice in the wilderness for so many of us who think the Constitution has been ignored and abused for too long.

    I'll support your amendment 100%, with one minor the interim between the date of the vacancy and the special election, that state must be represented by Oprah Winfrey.

    "It is often pleasant to stone a martyr, no matter how much we admire him"...John Barth

    by Giles Goat Boy on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:34:34 AM PST

  •  Excellent idea. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, Rogneid

    Appointments are okay when it comes to things like ambassadorships and posts like that.

    But NOT Senator!  

    You have my support!

    "There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall -- think of it, ALWAYS." - Gandhi

    by hopesprings on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:37:15 AM PST

  •  Not impressed. Reform Electoral College! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    egarratt, freakofsociety, Neon Mama

    How about a Constitutional Amendment reforming, or abolishing, the Electoral College so that all future Presidents are elected by a popular majority (run-offs allowed).  The minority vote appointee from the 2000 election brought us the greatest national catastrophe since the Civil War. At least.

    The problems from current Senatorial appointments are very, very, small cheese compared to this.

    Get serious, Senator.

    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." General Nathanael Greene, Continental Army, April, 1781.

    by faithnomore on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:42:49 AM PST

  •  Another suggestion to empower The People: (0+ / 0-)

    Expand the size of the House to 10,000 Members.

    I wrote about it here.

    If my students can't explain it, they don't understand it.

    by Jimdotz on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:43:31 AM PST

  •  Can't the ammendment... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Include some provisions for federal funding (at least in part) for these elections?  Also, I think Alaska has laws on the books for Special Elections in senatorial vacancies.

    The day has come, our time is now...

    by RichM on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:44:48 AM PST

    •  States are allowed to choose whatever method (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, Rogneid, ctexrep

      they want. It's more than Alaska, Arizona and Massachusetts require elections.

      [Mass just recently did this, because of the tendency to have Republican Governors probably influenced the State Legislature just a tad bit, dont'cha know??? :)]

      And Russ's proposal has already hit the Wiki!

      The Republican Party has died, Raptured, and has Risen Again as the Obstructionist Party

      by shpilk on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:58:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  and it's up to the State (0+ / 0-)

        The Federal Government cannot have that much power over the individual states rights.  If this is important to people, it should be changed at the state level - then I have no problem with it.

        The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

        by ctexrep on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 10:09:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  True - Feingold's reasoning is not very (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Kickemout, ctexrep

          good as there is no compelling reason for a constitutional amendment. This should be fixable at the state level.

          •  It's harder at the state level (0+ / 0-)

            You have so many states to deal with and putting the political pressure for change would be much more productive as a constitutional amendment. Considering the political bargaining with the appointments of Burris, Gillibrand, Kaufmann, and Bennet that occurred outside of the consent of the governed, I'd say that is a pretty compelling reason for a constitutional amendment.

  •  I would be in support of this ammendment and... (0+ / 0-)

    "The industrial use of semen will revolutionize society" - John Balance

    by cornagainstsorcery on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:45:42 AM PST

  •  Thanks, but no thanks (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    taylormattd, Red Bean, Pluto, imchange, ctexrep

    I think the 17th Amendment is fine as it stands, in that it gives the states themselves the option to decide whether to fill such vacancies by special election or by appointment. Yes, we in Illinois are having governor issues that were unfortunately timed. That is not, however, an argument for amending the federal Constitution. If anything, it's an argument for amending the Illinois Constitution to permit the recall of elected officials--because I guarantee you, if we'd had such a provision in place, Blagojevich wouldn't have been governor this long.

    •  IL isn't the only problem (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, oscarfrye

      If they had held competitive elections in DE, CO and NY I guarantee you the winners would not have been Ted Kaufman, Michael Bennet or Kirsten Gillibrand.

      They may turn out to be great senators--I have no idea--but I do know they ended up in the Senate on a fluke and could theoretically stay for a long time because of the power of incumbency.

      That is not right.

      Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

      by desmoinesdem on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 12:25:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  How likely is it (0+ / 0-)

      That Blago, his predecessors, or successors would sign a law that deprived them of the power to appoint Senators - and how likely is it that the state legislature would have the power to overturn the veto of such a law?

      Truthfully, "the states" - by which I hope you mean "the people" - have a relatively steep hill to climb when it comes to getting a special election, which is probably why only four states hold them.

      A Constitutional Amendment would reduce that unreasonably high burden by taking those with the most to lose - governors - out of the equation.

      Really, why not support this Amendment - at least to the extent of putting it to the states.  If 3/4 of state legislature agree, then good; if not, well, nothing lost.  At the very least, the people deserve an opportunity to make their case to people who have nothing to gain or lose by is passage - the state legislators - rather than having to make their case to people who do have something to lose - governors.

      •  Irrelevant appeal (0+ / 0-)

        If this is something that citizens want badly enough, they can let their state legislators know. Those legislators will then either pass a bill to withdraw permission for the governor to make appointments to fill Senate vacancies, or run the risk of losing their next election to a candidate who promises to give the people what they want. If they get big enough majorities, they can override vetoes from governors who want to try to preserve their power of appointment. And all of that can happen under the federal Constitution as it now stands--we don't need to go to the fuss and bother of amending it.

        And perhaps the fact that only four states mandate special elections speaks at least as much to the public's indifference to the question of whether Senate vacancies should be filled by election or by appointment as it does to any imagined attempt by the governors to preserve a power that very few of them ever get to exercise.

        •  The Constitution gives the people the right (0+ / 0-)

          To change their government through any number of ways.  There is no reason that they should be forced to use the most difficult.

          Really, you might as well argue that the courts should have refused to hear segregation cases because the plaintiffs could have sought redress through the state legislature.  For a more recent example, the Massachusetts supreme court should have told gays to take their demand for marriage to the legislature, too.

          If you don't think that people should have the right to elect their senators or believe that governors should have the right to select their cronies then argue for it - dont argue that only the most difficult process is the correct one because you are too cowardly to argue the merits.

          People should have the right to elect every senator, and there is no reason why this means to achieve that end should not be employed.

  •  I disagree in that without media reform and (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shpilk, Neon Mama, imchange

    more diversity in media ownership we citizens are much less empowered because we are swamped by the corporate media's 'news' and opinions.

    So, there is not just to cost of the election but also the unfairness in the media.

    For example, in the last Democratic primary for Senate in New York State there was a pro-labor, anti-war lawyer running but the media barely mentioned him.

    Whoever was sponsoring the debate made up an arbitrary dollar amount meant to represent sufficient support, which, of course, he did not quite meet.

    Free and Fair Elections depend on Free and Fair Media, which we no longer have.

    Media Reform Action Link

    by LNK on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:46:36 AM PST

  •  An unwelcome distraction (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto, alba, Vladislaw

    Usually I agree with you, Senator Feingold.  On this issue I have mixed feelings.  Special elections take time and money.  They would leave a vacancy of representation while they took place.  A brief appointment until the next regular election isn't such a bad option. Your arguments comprise the cause of my feelings being mixed.

    But the main reason I am against this Constitutional amendment is that there is simply too much else that Congress and the people of the United States need to be working on right now. The urgent issues of the economy, housing, health care, global warming, ending the war, undoing the disasters created by the Bush administration, and the many other details will cause deep trouble to most of our lives if not quickly addressed.  Optional, time consuming problems like addressing a non-critical Constitutional amendment just need to go on a back burner for now.

  •  good idea, but not now (5+ / 0-)

    I just finished reading on the front page that the Bush administration was more focused on "detention and interrogation" (i.e. torturing) than they were on prosecution at gitmo.

    The economy is a train wreck.

    The banks and corporations are looting the treasury.

    Nothing is being done to stop the genocide in Gaza.

    Bush and his friends are guilty of war crimes.

    We are STILL embroiled in two wars.

    There is a time for this Senator, but I don't think that time is now.

  •  Thanks for the infor Sen. Feingold... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WisVoter, 3goldens

    The Constitution should not be treated like a rough draft.

    Tell that to the Floridians, we amend our state constitution every five minutes.  When I was in law school I got an outline for Florida Con Law from a friend of mine who took the bar a few years earlier and I had to add an additional 20 pages with notes re: the amendments which had passed in the mean time....

    It's not easy being a Floridian: PS I'm a lawYER now; no longer a lawSTUDENT.

    by lawstudent922 on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:49:16 AM PST

  •  Mind deleting the references to 3/5th and (8+ / 0-)

    Native Americans while you're at it.

    In fact, Bolivia just re-did there Constitution and empowered their indigenous minority.  You have Menominee and Chippewa and Onieda in your about some significant changes in our Constitution to reflect our unheard voices.

    "It stinks." - Jay Sherman

    by angry liberaltarian on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:49:35 AM PST

  •  Thank you for always remembering (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shpilk, 3goldens, Floja Roja

    that it is the people who deserve the right to make these important decisions. Between you and Waxman, I feel someone is looking out for us, especially as many, such as myself and other progressives in Idaho, feel we lack representation of our interests.

    I think, therefore I am. I think.

    by mcmom on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:49:43 AM PST

  •  I see the benefit of the proposal, but not sure (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    taylormattd, 3goldens, alba, Remain calm

    if the now is the right time to be pushing it forward. I doubt the States will ratify it, it takes the power out of their hands.

    I think an Amendment like this would be more likely to pass in the 2nd term of the Obama Administration, when hopefully there is not as much angst over the state of the economy.

    The Republican Party has died, Raptured, and has Risen Again as the Obstructionist Party

    by shpilk on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:51:18 AM PST

    •  It doesn't deprive the States of power (0+ / 0-)

      It deprives the governors of power - there is a difference.

      Presently, the governor must either cede their power voluntarily by signing legislation to make special elections the rule or have it stripped from them by a super-majority in his state legislature.

      A Constitutional Amendment doesn't require their input at all.

      Really, this is one of those situations where a Constitutional Amendment might be easier to secure the right than lobbying individual state governments.

  •  Thank you Senator! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've been thinking a lot about this issue lately, and I was delighted, though not surprised, to read about your proposal on

    Procedural issues like this are almost never the sexiest or most pressing, but I agree with you that this does really matter to our democracy. We face all kinds of crises right now, but because this is a truly non-partisan "good government" issue, I am not concerned about it de-railing other legislation.

    I am concerned about the details. My main concern is that an instant special election would become simply a popularity contest, favoring those with the highest name recognition and best fund-raising machine, rather than the best qualified candidate.

    Given the length of Senatorial terms and their weight in our democracy, I think it's even more important than for House elections, to really make this a choice we the people participate in, with enough time to vet the candidates and really get to know them.

    For this reason I would favor some kind of "care-taker" appointee of the same party as the former senator, who would provide representation for the state in the interim, but who would be specifically barred from running for that seat in the special election.

    I thank you for taking the lead on this, and for working to continue to perfect our democracy.

    "No, I still got *my* saber, Reverend. Didn't turn it into no plough-share, neither."

    by brooklyns finest on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:51:25 AM PST

  •  I mean I disagree re requiring special elections (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If a Governor can appoint an interim senator AND if there is fair and accurate reporting in the media, then there might also be fair and accurate feedback from the electorate.

    Gov. Blagojevich wanted to profit from his choice, but weren't all the candidates under consideration totally qualified in every way?

    HOWEVER, anything the most excellent Senator Russ Feingold says must be taken extremely seriously!!!

    Media Reform Action Link

    by LNK on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:51:54 AM PST

  •  isn't an amendment (5+ / 0-)

    which secures The Vote from private interests more important, senator?

    why not create the official u.s. voting machine, and abolish antiquated voting laws nationwide.

    if you had fifty people in a room who all relied on each other to get their information correct, you wouldn't have joe from maryland counting votes one way and jane from alabama another. no, you'd standardize the process to reduce error and increase accuracy.

    beside that, how about introducing legislation to void all the state applications on senate/house records for the Article V Convention?

    working consciousness to raise consciousness

    by john de herrera on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:53:40 AM PST

  •  As you consider the amendment Senator (5+ / 0-)

    you should consider full amendments to the procedures for picking vacancies for Senate AND the House that take into account the necessity of filling seats upon the occurence of a national catastrophe in which large percentages of the body are killed.  

    While I agree that elections should be the first line for filling a vacancy - in the event of a catastrophe there should be some easy way to fill seats on a temporary basis and that is where appointments by the Governor could come in.  It would require thought, but you should consider it.

    Follow Missouri election news at ShowMeProgress

    by maryb2004 on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:55:01 AM PST

  •  Much more important to end bigot inspired (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shpilk, freakofsociety

    jim crow laws which let states prevent ex-felons from ever voting again.  It is taxation without representation and punishes folks who "paid their debt" by imposing a lifetime sentence based on their "previous condition of servitude." It is a second "sentence" for the same crime - double jeopardy anyone?

    It is not "equal justice for all" to have your right to vote in FEDERAL election -- be different state to state.  

    Using false Florida "ex-felon" list -- to prevent valid voters -- gave us 8 Bush years.

    Equal rights for women. Equal rights for ex-felons. Equal rights for people of color. Equal rights for LGBT, especially to choose their own spouse -- regardless of gender.  

    The Senate house of lords is better served by quick appointment to replace -- than delays of elections.  How about better rules to dump a guy like Vitter who became a co-conspirator in hiding an illegal sex business - and even smeared his wife's legal career -- by telling her when he knew she wouldn't turn them in either.  SLEAZE is in the Senate -- even in those duly elected.

    I'm a born Badger - proud of your vote against AUMF Iraq.  But. This is a waste of time amendment - when much else is more needy of our time and energy. IMHO  

    De fund + de bunk = de EXIT--->>>>>

    by Neon Mama on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 09:56:14 AM PST

    •  Good points about the votes for ex-felons. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Neon Mama

      This is gross disenfranchisement,
      and it should be addressed as soon as possible.

      Ex-felons have paid their debt, and should be allowed to vote, period.

      Some would argue that even those felons serving time should be allowed to vote, as they are in Maine and Vermont.

      In some States, certain misdemeanors prevent a person from voting, as well which is awful.

      Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, South Carolina, and Maryland also formally bar some or all people convicted of misdemeanors from voting.

      Maryland has some really bizarre cases;

      "'Unlawful operation of vending machines,' 'Misrepresentation of tobacco leaf weight,' and 'Racing horse under false name.'""

      Can you imagine, beating on a vending machine means you lose your right to vote? Only in America, I guess.


      The Republican Party has died, Raptured, and has Risen Again as the Obstructionist Party

      by shpilk on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 10:09:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  WTF....I'm outraged (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Since when does common sense rule the day in Washington...

    Oh wait, that's right it's Sen. Feingold, not the DINOs we like to call "our own".  Silly me.  

  •  Luvya Senator, but with all the other potential (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alba, JohnAdams999

    amendments out there, this doesn't make the top 20.

    #1 - The "Money Does Not Equal Speech" Amendment

    #2 - The Privacy Amendment (incl. genetic information and the corollary that we are born self-patented)

    Both are tools to return power to the people.  One expands political power, the other defaults commercial ownership of our personal information back to individuals.

    "Peace be the journey. Cool Runnings!"

    by Terra Mystica on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 10:02:39 AM PST

  •  But Senator (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The true representatives of the people are the House of Representatives.  The Senate is State representation preserving autority to the State - we are a Federation, not a Confederation and although I may even agree with you, constitionally, I'm not sure it has merit.

    The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

    by ctexrep on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 10:06:02 AM PST

    •  Ah .. "State's Rights". (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Raises it's head.

      This is about conformity for elections for Federally held offices, not about 'State's Rights'.

      The Republican Party has died, Raptured, and has Risen Again as the Obstructionist Party

      by shpilk on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 10:11:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No offense (0+ / 0-)

        but you really should think more about that statement.  States have rights - if they didn't, why do we need anything more than the Federal Government?  

        The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

        by ctexrep on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 10:18:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Of course States have rights, as enumerated (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tj iowa, TheCid

          in the Constitution. Agree wholeheartedly, but the right to vote, and specifically vote in Federal Elections should be an absolute right, which should be superior to State concerns.

          States agree to bind themselves to an age limit, per the 26th Amendment to the Constitution.

          States agree to bind themselves to the voting rules pertaining to The House of Representatives.

          17th Amendment.

          When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

          Senators used to be appointed to serve by State Legislatures, not by popular vote: that was bad enough. Now, we've got one person choosing a Senator. It's undemocratic as hell.

          Do you think we should go back those days when the Legislature selected Senators for every State, rather than people vote them, too?

          The Republican Party has died, Raptured, and has Risen Again as the Obstructionist Party

          by shpilk on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 04:55:14 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  correct me if I'm wrong (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    3goldens, alba

    But doesn't the 17th already do this? It seems what is needed here is a clarification (by the SCOTUS probably) that the 17th's conditional clause of Governor's being allowed to appoint a Senator until a special election can be held is just that: a conditional clause - and not one that should be used as an excuse to not hold a special election.

    •  I think you're right - Even NYS plans to have (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      a special election - the current appointment is an interim appointment. The flaw in the Feingold proposal is that it would leave a state unrepresented for an extended time period (for the special election to be fair and democratic that time period would have to be extended).

  •  Thank you, Senator! n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    An Ceiling Cat rode invisible bike over teh waterz (cskendrick)

    by brainwave on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 10:10:16 AM PST

  •  I think the Framers screwed up with a Senate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    To a very, very significant degree.  Unicameral systems have their problems but on the whole a Senate is a useless, obdurate body good only was it was designed for: obstructing the will of the people in the House, the unruly ruffians.

    I like this change, Senator, even if its effects are minor in scope compared to what we need in health care, energy, employment, and wage growth. I'd feel a lot happier of your ass was truly busy with change in those areas.

    Never any disrepsect, sir, me?  Let us just say my patience ran out a long time ago expecting Change from the United States Senate.  Not all your fault, sir, not at all, but hungry children worry me a lot more than appointed Senators right now, sir, that's all.

    •  I don't think they screwed up. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I think we moved away from what they should have been when we enacted the 17th Amendment - a chamber representing the rights of states in the national government.

      "I won" -- President Obama in response to why he's not including more Republican ideas in his economic stimulus plan.

      by AUBoy2007 on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 10:15:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Could the founders ever imagine (0+ / 0-)

        to the reality that exists today, where States like KS, UT, OK have as much power in the Senate as CA, NY, IL with such diametrically opposed outlooks.

        The Republican Party has died, Raptured, and has Risen Again as the Obstructionist Party

        by shpilk on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 10:17:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think they could. I think that was the point. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The whole idea was that the views of states needed to be represented in the national government to preserve the federal system.  It was on purpose that the states have equal power in this case.

          There's something to be said for that.

          "I won" -- President Obama in response to why he's not including more Republican ideas in his economic stimulus plan.

          by AUBoy2007 on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 10:20:51 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  The Senate is going to be more and more (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      paradox, Pluto, TheCid

      obstructionist to change as stark political differences and the disproportionate balance of power The Senate holds become more apparent.

      Right now, we have an Administration appointment ham-stringed by an anonymous Republican Senator.

      The power of the Senate has always been there to disrupt and obstruct, but only Republicans seem to willing to use it in that manner.

      We need a new Leader in The Senate to take on the obstructionists face to face.


      The Republican Party has died, Raptured, and has Risen Again as the Obstructionist Party

      by shpilk on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 10:15:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Don't hold your breath (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I'm more than willing to be surprised and I'm watching with an open mind.

        Again, horrible problems of searing pain are assailing our children and people this very second.  This Senator shows up and tries to fix what his god damn institution initiated and helped to bring us to in this unholy disaster, his lousy obstructing Senate.

        He's a good man, it's not his fault, if he could have made it different he would have. The fact remains his grand body of government is a god damn disgrace that has horribly betrayed the little people of this country.  I'm just not impressed, Senator Feingold, sorry.

    •  They didn't screw up...but (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IndyGirl, TheCid

      they weren't able to fathom how the Republic would grow in 200+ years.

      100 Senators in a nation of 300+ million puts way too much power in the hands of a tiny elite.

      Member of the "Fellows of the Ass Society." Dedicated to reminding people that most knowledge still comes from books. Not Wikipedia.

      by David Kroning on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 03:06:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The right to vote. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shpilk, mcfly, 3goldens

    With all due respect senator, I agree that a constitutional amendment to require special elections for senate vacancies is warranted. However, I think there is a greater need for an explicit  constitutional amendment specifically guaranteeing every person over the age of eighteen the right to vote, which should be expressly stated as including one person one vote, the right to cast a verifiable paper ballot, and the right to vote early and further stating that the right to vote may not be denied or impaired by any person or entity, public or private.

    The right wing hates Pooh because he reminds children to "think, think, think."

    by dicta on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 10:15:55 AM PST

  •  Now That We're Talking about Amendments... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fhcec, elwior, Knarfc

    ...Senator Feingold -- I don't know if you've heard about it yet, but we lost the Fourth Amendment the other day in the Supreme Court.

    Could you please working on restoring that one? I'm sure that you are aware that your phone has been constantly tapped. Your office has probably been tossed, as well.

    Let's put a stop to that, first. Whaddya say?

  •  Good call (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poemless, 3goldens, alba

    I just have one concern. What will the residents of that state do in the meantime with only one senator? I'm sure you have and will consider this but I figured I would bring this up in the rare case that you haven't, because it wasn't in your diary. In any case I agree that gubernatorial appointments are a problem.

  •  Thank you, Senator Feingold (0+ / 0-)

    I don't know about you, but I have enough unnecessary drama in my day to day life without having to deal with this too.

  •  You know what could really empower us? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poemless, pullbackthecurtain, elwior


    Good paying, steady jobs.

    Vegetable garden services in the Atlanta area:

    by pkbarbiedoll on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 10:19:03 AM PST

  •  Okay, fine, Senator (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poemless, elwior

    But the electoral college system is a far greater affront to democracy than is the current system of appointing US Senators until the next regular Federal election.

    I'm one of your constituents, too. Didn't realize you were on the Constitution subcommittee. Maybe I'll write you a letter explaining why the electoral college is a nightmare, and I'll mention that four letter word, BUSH, to illustrate my point.

    The Bush Family: 0 for 4 in Wisconsin

    by Korkenzieher on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 10:19:14 AM PST

  •  Hi Russ (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poemless, 3goldens, PurpleMyst

    As you point out, it is the case that the states have the right to choose replacement Senators as they see fit-- including by special election-- and only three states have to date chosen to require such a special election.  In my mind, it would be hard to argue for such drastic action as an amendment to the Constitution under these circumstances, even though I agree that states should be taking a hard look at the issue given recent developments.

    Much worse for the people is the massive amounts of money that are needed to run a viable Senate campaign, with often gives the people a choice between two great fundraisers at the ballot box rather than two people with fresh ideas for advancing the interests of the people and the country.  I'd much rather that you continue your focus on campaign finance reform so that we tend to have better, more independent candidates for the Senate and every other office, and fewer politicians who are already tied in knots by their obligations to special interests.

  •  What kind of timeline for elections? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Let me first say that I LOVE this idea.

    So, how soon after a vacancy would the election need to be held? And how quickly after the election is held should the seat be filled? As soon as the vote is certified? Or within a set number of days?

  •  where you been???????????? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    are you just getting warmed up here?

    we got big stuff we need you to work on...take the lead on....ill give you a pass on the easy stuff for now but i want to see some brave leadership from the most progressive senator we got left.

    havent heard a peep out of you on israel /palestinians now that i think about it.

    step up can handle it.

  •  I support this Senator Feingold (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rhubarb, Ice Blue

    I am wondering if at least some of those here who are not in favor of this change would be so willing to let things continue on as they are had the newly-appointed Senators been put in place by Republican governors, especially given the narrow margins in the U.S. Senate.  I am sort of amazed at those who are willing to leave senatorial appointments to state legislatures or governors.  Each state has only two Senators.  We need quality people in those positions----not appointments designed to satisfy backers or lobbyists OR appointments being treated like political "rewards" to be handed out by State legislatures or governors.  People are entitled to have representation from their Senators and providing for them to VOTE for whomever they wish seems the most democratic thing to do.  

    •  Nobody disagrees with you. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      But who is to say, that a special election, where an unusally low percentage of voters, at great expense, should elect a senator to fill out the remaining term of somebody who is unable to fulfill the term.  Elections have consequences.  If you live in one of those states where the governor selects, then pick a governor who will pick appropriately.

      "Barack, put Helen back in the front row"

      by egarratt on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 10:56:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If people don't bother to vote (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        it's their own damn fault.  If they end up with a stinker, they have no one to blame but themselves.

        That's Democracy.

        A jackass can kick down a barn but it takes a carpenter to build one.--Sam Rayburn (D-TX)

        by Ice Blue on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 11:19:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  rubbing my eyes... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Report: Rescued Citigroup Shelling Out $50M for Corporate Jet
    FOXNews - 9 minutes ago

    Change I Can Believe In — Russ Feingold’s Very Good Idea
    FOXNews - 1 hour ago
    By Betsy Newmark This is change I can support. Russ Feingold intends to introduce a constitutional amendment calling for special elections to replace senators when a vacancy arises..."

    Two, count 'em, TWO very changed FN headlines today...are veils being lifted secretly, and have some progressives "burrowed" into FN? ...Once you begin to see clearly, you cannot go back to impaired vision. You cannot "ungrow" growth.

    Have not/will not refer to the stories themselves, just the headlines, as FN has seemingly fallen hard from the google news aggregator. So, I'm just wondering...could/would FN change?

    I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice. -Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President (1809-1865)

    by greenbird on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 10:35:24 AM PST

  •  Excellent Idea Senator Feingold (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I couldn't agree with you more.  This is one of the reasons I respect you so much and wish you were my Senator.  This will probably not be an easy process to get this passed, but it will improve our democratic republic and eliminate another potential area of political corruption.

    Feingold is my hero.

    by Marc in CA on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 10:36:35 AM PST

  •  End Prohibition (0+ / 0-)

    with Harm Reduction the goal

  •  Senator, thanks for engaging us (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poemless, 3goldens, Pluto

    but I agree with others that this is not necessary, and in any case, not the most important issue before the country.  It is an interesting idea, though.

    2 concerns I haven't seen raised yet:

    1.  Some wingnuts, like Ron Paul and Zell Miller, want to repeal the 17th amendment altogether, not go in the other direction.  So there would be ideological opposition.
    1.  A more serious objection is one raised in the wake of Sept 11- namely what do we do if a terrorist nukes the Capitol and kills most of our congress persons.  The concern is that we would then not have a quorum to carry out the basic functions of government, or that whomever is left behind may be wildly unrepresentative of the country.  For that reason, some proposed allowing governors to temporarily appoint not only Senators, but also House members in the wake of a national disaster such as the one I described.  Not allowing appointments at all may be problematic in such a situation.

    The library sucks . . . It's got those plastic chairs that aren't good for lounging

    by mcfly on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 10:39:59 AM PST

    •  Now this is one of the best (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      arguments I've read in the Comments of this diary on why it might NOT be such a good idea to require a special election to replace Senators.  You opened my eyes a bit here.

    •  Ron Paul and Zell Miller (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Have exceeding little and zero power, respectively.  Ignore them.

      That said, I think it would be wise to combine this amendment with the "Continuity of Congress" amendments that have been floating around the past few years - technically, they deal with the same question: what to do when an office is vacant.

      When some small number are vacant - a non-emergency - there's no reason why we shouldn't have an election, even if it takes a little longer than an appointment.  But when a larger number are vacant - an emergency - it would be wise to have some sort of succession.

  •  Sen. Feingold, have I told you this month how (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    cool you are? Well, now I have.

    Good luck on the amendment.

    "It's like we weren't made for this world, But I wouldn't really want to meet someone who was." --Of Montreal

    by andydoubtless on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 10:40:27 AM PST

  •  Expense to the candidates (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    What about the expense to the candidates of running a campaign in such a short time-scale?
    For example, lets say the election in NY had been popular election. Probably Caroline could have spent $10 million. Then Cuomo and Gillbrand would have had to raise that much.
    All within a few month-period.
    It would have been pretty crazy and totally distracting for NY politics.

    So I can see an advantage to having the governor appt and then having the regularly scheduled elections.

  •  You should have censured Bush/Cheney instead (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annrose, Pluto, TooFolkGR

        Priorities, Mr. Feingold.

        Thank you.

  •  Sen Feingold (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    We disagree often on matters of economics, but I have always had great admiration for your stances on civil liberties and constitutional questions.

    I like this proposal, and will do my best to support it. Devolution of power to the people is a noble ambition.

  •  higher priorities (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poemless, Wilberforce, alba

    I believe in elections, but this is hardly my highest priority. How about Congress actually being required to declare war before a defacto war can be started? This seems like a much more important subversion of our constitution.
    How about voting rights for DC? These people have been denied what most of us consider a basic right, and are subject to every congressional whim. For that matter how about a general right to vote for all of us?
    How about a recall right for states? I have a feeling the folks in CT might have removed Joe Lieberman by now, but they are denied that possibility. I don't see getting an appointed Senator for a couple years as being any worse than being stuck with an elected one that the people no longer want, but are powerless to remove.
    How about standardized rules for voting nationwide, so that everyone can count on being allowed a fair opportunity to cast a vote?
    I'm sure that without a great deal of time and effort I could come up with still more, but you get my point.
    The recent follies in ILL and NY may be highlighted right now, but on a constitutional level I think there are bigger fish to fry.

  •  If it's democracy you're looking for, (0+ / 0-)

    how about a recall provision for US Senators on a popular 3/5ths vote?

  •  Allow the governor to make an interim appointment (0+ / 0-)

    Until the special election and this has my full support.

  •  Good Idea Senator Feingold... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    As I understand it, several of the states that now depend on appointments originally provided for special elections but somewhere along the way the state legislatures abdicated their responsibilities and gave the appointments to the governor of each state, in most cases.

    That's a dangerous precedent.  That's what the US Congress did with AUMF, for instance, never mend the fact that too many of your fellow senators caved time and time and time again over the last eight years to the. worst. "president.' EVER to hold that office (and he was effectively "appointed" by SCOTUS in 2000, and hardly anyone in Congress made a peep against it.  Shame on the congressional members who never objected to Bush, Cheney, or their policies and administration, and our Lamestream Media for rarely publishing articles against them, but, indeed, cheerleading for them.

    Have you all now learned your lessons about putting too much power into the hands of one man... especially one man who is a criminal without a conscience at heart?

    Now, when can we expect some investigations and war crimes trials?  Or a recommendation from the Senate and/or the House that President Obama sign the US back on to the ICC so they can extradite Bush, Cheney, Rummy, Addington, Yoo, Gonzales, et alia, to The Hague to be tried for crimes against humanity and war crimes and lies that got us into committing those war crimes in the first place...?  (And shame on Congress for funding the illegal war and the US military facilities where torture was condoned and performed!)

    You in Congress might be willing to put the lies and war crimes behind us, but We The People are still waiting for Justice to be done on behalf of those who died in vain or were maimed for life thanks to the lies for oil.  I don't much care where the trials are held, and I don't even care if a few bad fear-and warmongering DINOs who bought into the sham 'war on ter'ra' go down with the Repukes (they knew about the torture before we did and refused to stop it, after all), but I want to see war crimes trials take place.  This is something I've wanted since I heard the first lies uttered by that fool George W. Bush; his first lies should have led directly to impeachment because there was recent precedent for impeaching a president for lying to Congress.....

    Thank you for your consideration.


    by NonnyO on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 11:21:29 AM PST

  •  Right on, Russ, this is a very important (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    issue, especially as you state:

    But people who want to be a U.S. Senator should have to make their case to the people whom they want to represent, not just the occupant of the governor’s mansion. And the voters should choose them in the time-honored way that they choose the rest of the Congress of the United States.  

    I wholeheartedly agree that this is a "cost" that is well worth the money.

    Aloha, and Go Badgers!

    The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy Office & Scotch Tape Shoppe: Meeting your conspiracy and adhesive needs with Jack and a Beck's back

    by blogpotato on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 11:21:58 AM PST

  •  fantastic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I look forward to hearings on this and a serious effort to rein in this undemocratic process, by either Constitutional amendment or full-bore pressure on the states to reform their systems, as the 17th Amendment allows.

    Thanks for your leadership.

    D-Day, the newest blog on the internet (at the moment of its launch)

    by dday on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 11:22:17 AM PST

  •  Special elections have low turnout (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poemless, TooFolkGR, alba

    And the decisions in a special election therefore, are limited to the opinions of the motivated and those with leisure.

    Combine this with a requirement to make voting easier for the poor and maybe I'd be for it, but as it is now, I think an appointment is fine for a shortened term.

    Would y'all just chill the hell out?

    by nightsweat on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 11:25:11 AM PST

  •  I don't know if I agree with this idea at all. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    poemless, Dragon5616

    First of all - a fair election takes time to put together.  You must hold a primary and then a general election - both of which take time.  I would say that to be completely fair to voters you would need a minimum of three months for each which leaves the voters without representation for three months - and in such a short cycle you end up with the party insiders anyway - because they are the only people who can get attention in such a short cycle and of course MONEY...

    I don't know if a special election is any better than a gubenatorial appointment at all.  It might make you "feel" better, but I think that the party machine factor will be at about the same level in both scenarios.  Seems to me this gives more power to the Senate to pick its members than it ultimately gives the voters because we all know that these days you've got to be amongst the super-rich class to run for Senate even with a lot of time to build a campaign - under a short special election scenario - that problem is even more exaggerated.  I kind of like the idea that someone who comes in under an appointment scenario can be challenged on that basis - especially if that person has not done a satisfactory job of representing their constituents.  If they were voted in that case would be removed and they'd probably have greater power of incumbancy even though their election would have been in the "special" category - we all know that special elections are not particularly representative of the voters because only the die hards normally show up for them.

    But whatever.  If this is how you want to spend your time right now given everything that has gone on and everything that is going on, then so be it.

    •  Come on (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Not saying that you raise bad points, but ...

      "But whatever.  If this is how you want to spend your time right now given everything that has gone on and everything that is going on, then so be it."

      ... Was that necessary?

      •  Yes given the enormity of the task (0+ / 0-)

        of getting a Constitutional Amendment enacted and the enormity of our problems right now - yes.

        Chaning the Constitution costs a lot of money, takes a lot of time and energy and honestly I do not think that the "problem" here is anywhere near as pressing as the many other problems this country is facing right now.

    •  Actually, you don't need a primary. (0+ / 0-)

      Furthermore, the idea that "you would need a minimum of three months" would come as a surprise to those states - like, say, Deleware - who hold a general election less than three months after the candidates for general election are determined.

      I wouldn't say any of your criticisms are false - a special election might benefit a candidate with money, or with connections, or some other advantage unrelated to their merit - but not only are those problems with elections in general, as we've seen, they are even more of a problem for appointments.

      The worst that can be said of a special election is that it is as bad as an appointment.  The best that can be said of a special election is that the people are allowed to elect their Senator.

      As for this:

      But whatever.  If this is how you want to spend your time right now given everything that has gone on and everything that is going on, then so be it.

      Bullshit.  You may not give a damn about democracy, but there are plenty of us who do.  The right of the people to choose their Senator is important, and it is entirely appropriate for a Senator to do everything in his power to protect that right.

  •  Excellent idea, Senator. (n/t) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    39 Years Of Yellow-Dogging And Then 1 Year Of WTF

    by Larry Bailey on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 11:29:33 AM PST

  •  So Are You Going to Pay For It? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pullbackthecurtain, Dragon5616

    Will the constitutional amendment in question allocate federal money to pay the state for a tens of millions of dollars expenditure that they didn't have in their budget?

    I'm OK with letting the states decide this.  There are so many more important things that people should be working on right now... you of ALL people since you're on the rights side of most of them.

    If spittle & tooth=vigor & youth Bill-O & Savage won't grow any older If wishes & dreams=bitches & beams We'll all live in skyscrapers bu

    by TooFolkGR on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 11:35:56 AM PST

    •  The same way you pay for (0+ / 0-)

      The Constitutional guarantee that every state have a "republican form of government."

      The Constitution places any number of requirements on how state governments must be structured and how they may act - the federal government is under no obligation to pay for these if the state government finds it inconvenient to do so.

      Honestly, the "democracy is too expensive" argument is lame.  If anyone truly believed it, they'd argue against elections altogether and establish a dictatorship - there's nothing more efficient than that.

  •  While I don't disagree with your argument, I have (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    one question: who is going to pay for this election?? If a Senator passes away (God forbid) or leaves office for some other reason (corruption is more likely) near the end of his/her term, I don't believe it is fair to spend million of taxpayer's $$$$ to hold a special election for such a short stay in office.

    I agree that in a perfect world where states are flush with cash, your solution is ideal. But unfortunately, that ain't the world we live in. To take take money away from education or any other badly needed program makes no sense.

    In the current situation with Blago, he should not be allowed to appoint anyone to office. As soon as he was charged with a felony, his priveleges to appoint a dog catcher should have been revoked immediately (that should be an admendment).

    I would rather see either the Lieutenant Governor or a congressional panel invoked to assign the seat until the next election. We've already elected these people...Let them earn their pay. They will have to answer to the public for their choice.

    "The budget should be balanced; the treasury should be refilled; debt should be reduced; and the arrogance of officials should be controlled." Cicero 106-43 BC

    by TKH on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 11:36:39 AM PST

  •  Go Dems! For what it's worth, I'll call Mitch (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the Ugly Penguin, if only to take up his staff's time on your agenda.  And, I'll pose it as a debate for my government class, we're covering the amendment process, so this will be a timely, relevant exercise!

    "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they were amazed at Him. Mark 12:17

    by bkamr on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 11:36:45 AM PST

  •  While you're at it please end your unconditional (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tanya, pullbackthecurtain

    support for Israel and call for a fair and balanced (and not the Faux News type) of U.S. policy and investigate the latest in Gaza including the use of banned weapons, the illegal use of U.S. supplied weapons and other possible war crimes.

  •  Grandstanding (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I think there are many other things the Senate should be doing instead of worrying about this issue.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  •  thanks, russ! as always, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    you are my hero!  (i'm still sulking that you didn't run for prez!)

  •  Many would argue, including my Con Law prof (0+ / 0-)

    many years ago, that the poor drafting of the Constitution and failure to address slavery, led to the Civil War... But I love ya, Russ!!!!

  •  a special election is not the answer (7+ / 0-)

    unless your amendment also requires both a primary election and a general election to pick the new senator. Current law allows party bosses to pick the candidate in special elections to replace House members. This is highly undemocratic and not much of an improvement over the governor making the pick . .  

  •  I have a counterproposal (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TracieLynn, poemless, Void Indigo

    Let's hold people accountable under the Constitution that we already have.  Once we get that down, we can worry about amending it.

    Steny Hoyer = a slam dunk argument for term limits

    by jlynne on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 11:58:33 AM PST

  •  Not only a great and timely idea... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    but great background on why it is time to make this change.  I am regularly in awe of Senator Feingold's bullet-proof reasoning, and in this case I have been convinced by him that this is the way to go.  

    You can count on my support Senator.  Thank you for so articulately and passionately showing the way ... again.

  •  You know, Russ (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Stuff like this just plays into the meme that you don't care about issues that actually affect peoples lives; you only care about "process."

    At at time when our economy is melting down, is this really your top priority?

    •  I think he can chew gum and walk at the (0+ / 0-)

      same time .. but I do agree it needs to wait until we stabilize the severe damage done by the Bush Crime Syndicate.

      The Republican Party has died, Raptured, and has Risen Again as the Obstructionist Party

      by shpilk on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 07:39:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm not so sure I agree, appointments are (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    appropriate IMO since Governors are also elected. Special elections cost money and sometimes States don't have it. Rep's are local, Senators are state-wide and demand much more planning and money... Blago is really the only lissue I saw anyway, NY was fine, minus some 'theater.' In the end Gillibrand was appointed and she's more than capable to serve. Waste of time IMO, though I respect you great Sen. Feingold...

    Obama won! It's great but now it's time to get to work...

    by rigso on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 12:05:51 PM PST

  •  I disagree. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fiona West, Dragon5616, PurpleMyst

    And I am from IL.

    The reason Blago's appointment was an affront to democracy was not because we could not choose our Senator, but because the Governor was abusing his power.

    I am also from Rahm Emanuel's district.  I cannot tell you how long I have waited for a real election for this seat.  Now that we have one, I'm not sure this is what I had in mind.  Lack of time seems to be as unfair as would be a special appointment.

    First off, instead of resigning the moment he knew he would not finish his term, he waited until the last minute, postponing the time when a special election could be called, extending the time we are without representation and giving potential candidates less time to campaign.  Because this is a strongly Democratic district, the primary will decide the winner of the general election.  So time is even more of the essence.  All of the work, from getting on the ballot to campaigning in the district, is being done at a break-neck pace.  

    There are dozens of candidates.  The only public forum for the candidates, that I know of, has been organized by a bunch of us grassroots groups, and is very last-minute, and on Superbowl Sunday.  Even someone as wonky as I will have trouble making an informed decision because there is too much to cover in too little time.  Elections are not given the import we give them because people have the right to go punch a hole, but because people have the right to make an informed decision and then go punch a hole.  In that respect, it seems almost more responsible to let someone with all the info make the decision instead of thousands of individuals going "eenie meenie minie mo..."

    Also, one of the major complaints about appointments is that those who have the most clout are more likely to get the appointment.  However, in a Special Election, who do you think is going to win?  The person who already has money and pull and name recognition, because they have a head start on all fronts.  While Dean/Obama grassroots style fundraising may work in a regular elections in which the campaigns can afford to build momentum, there simply is not time in one or two months to do this in a special election.  And money means tv ads, direct mail, etc.  When you have a dozen names on the ballot, name recognition is going to be key for most people.  So, either way, appointment or special election, it seems to me the person with the strongest lobby will probably get the seat.  

    And if you really feel a Governor has not made the appointment in good faith, but for other unsavory reasons, you can always vote them out of office, or ... impeach them.  

    Lastly, I have the same visceral reaction as everyone when it comes to appointments trumping elections.  But let's be honest.  We have an electoral college.  We have a representative democracy.  We have appointments in the executive branch.  We have an unjust and easily corruptible voting system.  So it's difficult for me to feel self-righteous about appointments to the Senate when the ideals of democracy are compromised in more frequent, mundane circumstances.  

    Don't get me wrong.  I'm no fan of appointments.  I've just not seen a better alternative or reason to think its a serious problem plaguing our country.  There are lots of serious problems plaguing our country.  Let's stay focused on them until we're in the clear.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." -Voltaire

    by poemless on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 12:07:16 PM PST

    •  come on (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The governor of CO passed over any number of qualified people for a guy with no elective experience and no clear position on most of the issues.

      Gubernatorial appointments are not justified when it's easy to call a special election. Let the people decide.

      Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

      by desmoinesdem on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 12:29:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Was that a response to me? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fiona West, PurpleMyst

        It's easy to call a special election.  It is insanely difficult to hold one.  And in either case you may find someone unfit for the job gets the seat.  So we can't base our ... I can't base my argument on the quality of the office-holder produced by each outcome.  There are a lot of people in elected office who are crooks and idiots.  It's the value of the process that's up for debate.  Basically, when does efficiency trump ideology?  Different people are going to have different opinions about that.  I don't think the sentiment behind special elections is wrong.  I just think the logistics pose their own specialset of problems, in particular the lack of time which disproportionately favors establishment candidates with money, and the absence of representation during the course of the election.

        "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." -Voltaire

        by poemless on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 12:54:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Bah. I see no need. But, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    maybe a Special Election within 12 months of the Governor's Appointment if it's more than 2 years before the seat comes up for election. Two years or less, let the appointment ride.

    •  I agree. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And while cost should not be THE determining factor, cost does matter as well.

      I also see the logic of ctexrep's comment above:

      The House must be by vote because it represents the people.

      The Senate Represents the State.  The State has authority to change this at the State level.  The Federal Government need not get involved with this - it is the right of each sate to determine the process - therefore, if you agree with Senator Feingold, then you should try to change this at the State level.

      I don't think this amendment is necessary. I would much prefer that the electoral college be eliminated and the presidential vote made a national popular vote. If not that then at least change the college to make it proportional in all states and to force electors to vote according to their stated affiliation.

      "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics." --FDR, 2nd Inaugural Address

      by Dragon5616 on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 12:26:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bleeding Heartland is right there with you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    Thanks for showing leadership on this and so many other issues.

    Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

    by desmoinesdem on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 12:19:32 PM PST

  •  It will be interesting (0+ / 0-)
    To see how many of those who vote against this in Congress are former Governors, or are those pursuing a Governorship.

    Those who do not study history should not be permitted to make it.

    by trumpeter on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 12:28:59 PM PST

  •  it will add impetus to vote by mail NT (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Good Idea, Senator. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lady Libertine

        And for those who think that the short time span for the elections makes them "unfair", or that they cost too much, etc...
    Welcome to ALL senatorial elections! Senator Feingold has already taken a stab at campaign finance, and I'm sure that topic is still of great concern to him. But to discount this proposal because all of our elections cost too much and don't get free TV time is pretty silly.

        By the way, many of these appointments win their re-election, because even after being seated for only one or two years, they're treated (and funded) like incumbents. How fair is that? We should at least get a shot at primaries and elections for these 6 year term seats.

  •  Will you be responsive to the (0+ / 0-)

    growing chorus of "people" who are appalled at Israel's apparent need for ever more Palestinian land (and blood) or will you continue to vote in lockstep with your INHUMANE and OUT OF TOUCH Congressional colleagues to pass specious proclamations of uncritical support for Israel?

    You are way too smart not to have figured out the truth, Russ.  You can make a difference, or you can continue to justify the disenfranchisement and slaughter of innocent Palestinians - men, women and CHILDREN.  It's up to you, Senator.

    "History is a tragedy, not a melodrama." - I.F.Stone

    by bigchin on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 01:28:28 PM PST

  •  HAPPINESS IS... (0+ / 0-)

    Happiness is seeing the consequences of Neocon failures leading to the New New Deal.

    Happiness is knowing the choice the Big Business Repubs have are either multi-TRILLION dollar multi-year stimuli OR just put the entire US population making less than $100K/year on the government payroll.

    Happiness is seeing how the USD must be printed to combat DEFLATION while the Neocon is still whining over potential inflationary pressures that don't exist ANYWHERE on the globe.

    Happiness is knowing that whatever happens this planet will be brought together more closely because of globally shared misery of civilized Man.

    Somewhere I read that salvation only comes through human misery.  It may be true, but don't expect anyone to be happy over it.

  •  Where's my habeous corpus? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Where are my other rights that are self evident? The Constitution and the Bill of Rights, have been gutted and jerked around for politics and 'National Security'. Special elections be a good thing but I really want my country with it's sacred documents restored, perhaps now that the Bushies are gone the Senate could undo some of the abuses still in place? Or would that be to 'trying for the American people'? This proposal is minor compared with the damage done by taking off the table all our rights, the ones that are in the documents that history made. The Patriot Act, the AUMF, FISA, the cor[porate personhood and the rule by lobby, all of these need to be corrected.

    I guess I mainly want balance of power back. I want the Senate and the House to stand up for 'we the people and not natter on about 'will of the people' and useless bipartisanship. Sorry to rant but enough is enough and I want my country back the one that was established beyond politics. The electoral system is a corrupt mess as well as the rest but restoration of our basics 'The Law is King' is the first step needed. It is at the heart of the matter. As a Progressive Patriot your time has come stand up for our sacred documents all of them.          

    "And if my thought-dreams could be seen They'd probably put my head in a guillotine" Bob Dylan

    by shaharazade on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 01:39:21 PM PST

  •  While it makes sense... (0+ / 0-)

    after these most recent debacles, there are some important considerations to think about.  There wouldn't be much time for an immediate special election, so it could just turn into a name-recognition contest.  At least with a Governor making an appointment, the Gov. supposedly has better knowledge of all eligible candidates and their qualifications.  It also costs states a lot of money to hold a statewide election - especially so close to another election, this could really be a financial burden.  There are good arguments for both sides.  This shouldn't be a knee-jerk reaction to a couple of idiots.

  •  Excellent, Sen. Feingold (0+ / 0-)

    Glad to have you as my senator.  Good luck with this reform.  I was always willing to let the Senate be less of a democratic institution, as it was intended; popular elections of senators seemed like a good reform of the process a century ago.  But after the pure venality of Blagoevich and to a lesser extent the prospect of a person from a famous family simply taking a seat in New York, I think you are on the right track.

    Full speed ahead.

    Your satisfied constituent,

    p.s. Your outlook and actions more than make up for Kohl's cipherdom! :-)

    You won't have Putin's rearing head to kick around anymore.

    by rhubarb on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 01:42:56 PM PST

  •  Equal representation (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Boyle

    As long as were are worrying about representation of the people let's fix two other problems.

    1. The Senate. The four most populous states, CA, NY, TX and FL have almost 1/3 of the US population but only 8 Senators, or 8 percent representation in the Senate. The top 9 states have more than 50% of the population with only 18% representation in the Senate. As an amendment, I would suggest that each state has 1/4 the number of Senators as Congressmen, with a minimum of 1, and that Senators are elected statewide. The rule for calculating the number of seats would be to divide by 4 and round up at a fraction of 1/2 or greater.
    1. And direct election of the President, obviously. The fact that almost no campaigning takes place in the three most populous states should say enough.
    •  You are asking to change the basic makeup (0+ / 0-)

      of what makes America America.

      The political implications are quite clear, of course since liberals are crammed into the more populous States.

      I get that part, but you cannot alter the very structure of the country that way without a serious fight. The basic character of United States would be directly impacted by a change as you suggest.

      It would be great for 'liberal/progressive' viewpoints, which I favor .. but that doesn't make it necessarily 'correct'.  

      The Republican Party has died, Raptured, and has Risen Again as the Obstructionist Party

      by shpilk on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 07:37:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  With all due respect, Senator, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    revbludge, MKSinSA

    You're wasting your time and ours. This is a States' Rights issue; each state chooses how to handle the situation. You're violating the Tenth Amendment. This particular problem occurs so rarely as to be completely unimportant. You'd do more good by banning the use of untempered glasses in restaurants.

    Stop fucking around. Instead of looking for a simple cause to get these idiots to rally 'round the flag, boys, RESTORE THE GODDAMNED CONSTITUTION WE ALREADY HAVE! I want my fucking Fourth Amendment back! AND the Fifth. Getting the Ninth back would be a real treat.

    So how 'bout it, Senator? What do you say you go back to RESTORING America instead of playing the same bullshit games as the party which got us into this mess? Didn't this last election cycle teach you that you can actually address REAL ISSUES and SMRT people will turn out and vote?

  •  Signed (0+ / 0-)

    I agree

    "Everybody does better, when everybody does better" - Paul Wellstone 1997

    by yuriwho on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 02:11:13 PM PST

  •  What about instant runoff voting? (0+ / 0-)

    That could help avoid messes like the runoff in Georgia and the recount in Minnesota.

  •  Tipped and rec'd (0+ / 0-)

    for common sense.

    "What, then, is the legacy of the Royal Navy? I shall tell you. Rum, Buggery, and the lash! Good Day, Sirs." - Sir Winston Churchill

    by Dingodude on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 02:16:37 PM PST

  •  Your proposal (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clarknt67, David Kroning, stella0710

    places undue financial burdens on states that are already hard pressed through Congressional neglect and malfeasance. I would rather see the two houses spending time fixing the regulatory mess that's been created while ridding this stimulus package of the opaque earmarks that have cropped up.

    Wasting time destroying states' rights should be something undertaken on a day when we're not fighting two wars, kick-starting diplomacy, mitigating a global financial collapse and restoring the Constitution. That's much too much walking and gum chewing being done simultaneously.

  •  with you all the way on this (0+ / 0-)

    i can't see any reason to oppose this commonsense amendment.

  •  The argument against this (0+ / 0-)

    is that special elections for Senate vacancies would undoubtedly take place within a short time frame, which would be of great benefit to candidates with high name recognition and solid connections to big-money contributors.  

    Candidates with exceptional skills would be left out in the cold in favor of the well-known and well-connected.  

    Michael Bennet looks to be a pretty good choice, despite his lack of an electoral history, and Ray Burris seems okay.  Is the system really broke because one corrupt governor hasn't been impeached yet?

    "Justice is indivisible." - MLK

    by Bob Love on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 02:43:39 PM PST

  •  With all the problems that exist, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Boyle, David Kroning

    this is the least of our worries.  I have no interest in wasting time on this issue when we could be working to pass publicly funded elections, trade reform, single payer health care, and a whole lot more.  This issue is akin to re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

    They're asking for another four years -- in a just world, they'd get 10 to 20 ~~ Dennis Kucinich

    by dkmich on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 02:45:19 PM PST

    •  Especially since states that are already in debt. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      will have to have a referendum on this non-sense.

      If you're going to amend the Constitution, choose something a bit more significant in the lives of Americans.

      Member of the "Fellows of the Ass Society." Dedicated to reminding people that most knowledge still comes from books. Not Wikipedia.

      by David Kroning on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 03:03:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You have my support on this Senator! (0+ / 0-)

    Good for you Senator! Since special elections are already require to fill House seats, how much more should special elections be required for the longer-termed Senate seats!

    "United we progress toward a more perfect union."

    by keenekarl on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 02:48:25 PM PST

  •  Okay-now ditch the Electoral Collge as well (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and we have a deal!

    Thank you Senator for just spelling out exactly what must be said:

    We have too many people. This means that a national birth control policy is imperative (no matter how much it "sounds  like China" to Chris Matthews). What's next? A realistic international education policy that plans it.

    Just run it right up the Republican flagpole and shove it down their immigration-mongering throats with the facts please.

    The facts are plain as day: Our nation's population is simply too high, and the stats for 2050 are a looming starvation disaster worldwide whether you're an American, a Mexican or a Canadian.

    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." -Thomas Jefferson

    by ezdidit on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 02:49:34 PM PST

  •  Yea!!!! I'm all for making all states (0+ / 0-)

    fill vacant senate seats with elections.  It's really a shame there's no consistency across states in this country for replacing vacant senate seats.  It's nuts, not to mention that WE THE PEOPLE have no say so about an appointment in certain states until a special election to determine whether the appointed senator keeps his/her seat.  

    I'm with you 200% on this one Senator Feingold  ;-)

  •  Yes! (0+ / 0-)

    It always shocks me when I remember that this is not already the case.

  •  Rachel Maddow was spot on on this one (0+ / 0-)

    Her segment on Friday's show was pitch perfect. I posted it on my blog.

  •  Thank you Senator Feingold!!! n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Can we find something even more trivial... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Boyle

    so that we can amend the Constitution?


    Member of the "Fellows of the Ass Society." Dedicated to reminding people that most knowledge still comes from books. Not Wikipedia.

    by David Kroning on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 03:02:00 PM PST

  •  i'll call my reps for this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and ask my family to do the same.

  •  How about DC Statehood? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ChicagoStudent, TominGA

    That's the #1 amendment I'd like to see.

  •  Your pragmatism never ceases to amaze me! (0+ / 0-)

    This is a great idea and a perfect time to bring it up, given the recent debacles. I don't live in Wisconsin anymore but I still consider you my senator because you represent Wisconsinites and progressives. You Rock!

    George Bush and John McCain are out of ideas, they are out of touch, and if you stand with me in 17 days they'll be out of time~BO

    by RussRocks on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 03:48:09 PM PST

  •  Thanks for the proposal (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And thanks for being my Senator!

    Wisconsin's motto- FORWARD!

    Let's get McCain's chant started now... FOUR MORE YEARS! 100 MORE YEARS!

    by TobyRocksSoHard on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 03:49:08 PM PST

  •  this is a great idea, Senator Feingold n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D.
    President Barack Obama. At last.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 03:53:13 PM PST

  •  I agree...for, of, and by the poeple... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...not by appointment by a lone individual who is by virtue of election a political partisan which generally means that a significant part of a states electorate will not have a say in part of the polical process.

    Our nations quality of life is based on the rightousness of its people.

    by kalihikane on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 03:53:29 PM PST

  •  Senator Feingold, I am all for this! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    terabthia2, MinistryOfTruth

    Thanks so much for posting your sponsorship of this amendment. I personally think this is awesome, as a current resident of Colorado and a previous resident of Wisconsin (I was born and raised in Green Bay).

    Colorado now has one senator that I did not want, and that I did not elect, and I'm pretty unhappy about it. I believe that you quoting Hillary Clinton as saying that we can walk and chew gum at the same time is spot on. I realize that the cost of special elections is expensive to states, but I'm sorry - there is no way that Roland Burris gets elected in Illinois in a special election. Unfortunately, you now have a new colleague who truly believes he's all that and a bag of chips. (Honestly, good luck dealing with Burris. I hope his ego can be reigned in at some point.)

    Man, you make me SO proud of my homestate! You rock, Mr. Feingold, and I know that many progressives (myself included) look up to you here on Dkos. Please keep posting and tell us what we can do, aside from contacting our congresscritters, to get this amendment passed.

  •  two thumbs up Sen. Feingold (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Actually... (0+ / 0-)

    ...the spirit of the tenth amendment would seem to require such a change.  It's one of those things, when someone suggests it seriously, folks will often scratch their heads and say, "Why didn't someone do this before?"

    Of course, the conception of the Senate, as a 'check' on the democratic passions of vox populi, go a long way toward explaining the approach that we've followed.  But in an age that needs more popular voice, not less, the time is right to adopt this methodology.

    I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

    by SERMCAP on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 04:14:04 PM PST

  •  Two Questions (0+ / 0-)

    First, I'm for it! But...

    Would there be a time limit imposed in the amendment as to how quickly the election must take place? I'm thinking a senatorial election, involving a whole state, would take longer than a House election would, involving only one district. Think especially of a large state like California and how difficult it could be to hold a special election in, say, 6 weeks.

    Also, if we need more time, could a temporary appointment be allowed to be made by the state governor or legislature until the election is held?

  •  Thank you Senator Feingold (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for BOTH the idea AND coming here and putting it straight to the people, instead of sound bites on the news.

    Great job, keep up the good works. Maybe you could get the ENTIRE Senate to do a little more bloggin' with "we the people".

  •  Does it really matter one way or the other? (0+ / 0-)

    Except for you, Senator Feingold, and a handful of others I don't think our elected officials are really representing the people anyhow.

    Let's save the fight for constitutional amendments for what really matters: public financing of elections.

  •  One man one vote (0+ / 0-)

    only when the Senate is willing to go by equal representation, should the minor gaff about replacement be considered.  You would want me to vote for a replacement for Ms. Clinton when she had more than five times the people to represent than other Senators.

    Please take the timber from your eye before the splinter from mine.

  •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

    That is why I will introduce a constitutional amendment this week to end gubernatorial appointments to the U.S. Senate and require special elections to fill these vacancies, as is currently required for House vacancies.

    I approve.

  •  What about states' rights? (0+ / 0-)

    There's a reason for the 17th Amendment. We could decide that the cost of a Senate vacancy is less than allowing a Governor to pick the person s/he wants. However, we have to have that debate. Yes, the Burris and Gillebrand appointments have rankled some people. But, the solution being proposed is not without it's own set of costs. I think the Senate is too important to have vacancies for a length of time. The Franken/Coleman debacle should be proof of that. This period has pointed out both the benefits and the costs that we must consider before making this change.

    I'm not saying that elections aren't preferable to appointments, but I am saying that isn't necessarily the only choice we have -- since, there might be other options and other considerations.

    Why not allow the states to make their own choices? Why set up a rule that forbids every state from making it's own choice about handling this issue? A special election in Rhode Island might not be a big deal, but it would be in New York or California. Maybe there are good reasons to allow states the otion of making temporary appointments?

    Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

    by FischFry on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 04:45:10 PM PST

    •  What about the rights of The Citizen? (0+ / 0-)

      Shouldn't the Rights of the Citizen supersede the Rights of the State, specifically in the case where we are talking election of a Federal Officer?

      Why is it OK to deliver the power of the people of a whole State to one person?

      How would the Founders, the original architects of the Constitution view it?

      I think they'd want to empower the voice of the individual over the power of the State, or a State.

      The Republican Party has died, Raptured, and has Risen Again as the Obstructionist Party

      by shpilk on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 07:30:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ummmm...citizens....of...the United STATES? (0+ / 0-)

        Why is it OK to deliver the power of the people of a whole State to one person?

        Isn't that what a Governor is/gets when he's elected? And then, we get 2 senators who share between themselves the whole state's voice in the Senate. Something to do with representative democracy....

        How would the Founders, the original architects of the Constitution view it?

        They'd be confused, because they wrote the Constitution to give the State Legislature, not the Governor, the right to pick ALL Senators, ALL the time:

        The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years...

        But, then a prospective Senator bribed his way to a seat, and everyone decided direct election would be a good idea (17th Amendment, clause 1) -- and, if there were any vacancies, those could be filled by the Governor (17th Amendment, clause 2)...anything to keep the legislatures out of it.

        Shouldn't the Rights of the Citizen supersede the Rights of the State...?

        We are all citizens of one State or another. I was suggesting it might be more appropriate to let the people of New York decide how they'll fill vacancies to the Senate, rather than have 3/4 of the other States -- not the people of those states -- tell them how they may or may not do that.

        Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you:

        by FischFry on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 08:06:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  You have my support (0+ / 0-)

    as always... you are on the mark.  The people have become disenfranchised because the party machines have ears for the special interests and little for the will of the people.

    God bless you Senator for all you do!

  •  As long as you're amending (0+ / 0-)

    Could you add a line that re-sets the Presidential Inauguration to the 2nd or 3rd Saturday in January, rather than the immovable "Jan. 20"?

    Americans deserve a chance to see their goverment at its finest moment, and that moment is the Inauguration. To do this on a day when most citizens are at jobs or in school dulls its impact. Why not hold the Inauguration on a weekend, when most Americans are not working and can find some time to see and appreciate this special day?

    Visit MPD: The Montco PA Dem Blog: "Where blue politics meets the Blue Route."

    by Montco PA Dem on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 05:02:33 PM PST

  •  Americans are not represented in DC. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Congress does not represent Americans.  Congress represents corporations, banks, investment houses, the War companies, and health care companies.  

    When the banks snap a finger, Congress rushes to hand out 8 trillion (so far) with no strings, and the banks use the money to renovate offices, pay bonuses, and to make off shore aquisitions.

    When Americans are foreclosed, laid off, or a combination, Congress does nothing.  Why? Because Americans, especially working (or laid off) Americans do not have a powerful advocate in our government.  We may as well be illegal immigrants.

    Yet: our bills are still due, our heat gets cut off when we can't pay, our homes are taken away, our jobs are taken away---and this is all just fine in DC.

    Time for Real Change---it is going to take a march on DC to the Capitol to get the change we need.  

  •  Late to the party and can't stay (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    But just in case it hasn't been mentioned. . .

    It's tough to pass an amendment; it's going to be de facto bipartisan.

    It's up to Russ to convince the Republicans that this is NOT a power play.  It's zero-sum.  The GOP's chances of stealing the Illinois Senate seat would be better in a special election.  The climate isn't in their favor, but everyone should know how quickly that can change.

    Frankly, the GOP should back any measure that A) doesn't give the Dems any additional power and B) is a vote for democracy, as it makes them look good.  But they're a tad short on reasoning these days, so it might take some selling.

    We're in this together you idiot. No wonder this country hasn't improved; it's filled with idiots who wave around "Dem" and "GOP" like they're baseball teams.

    by Dragonchild on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 05:44:59 PM PST

  •  Thank you, Senator Feingold! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I appreciate you taking time out to share your concerns regarding this issue with us here. I had not thought of this issue in this way before, but given the brouhaha surrounding the process of appointing the recent Senate vacancies, it makes sense and seems like an excellent idea.

    Sorry if I sound like a wide-eyed fanboy here, but you remain my favorite politican in Congress and I commend you for the stands you've taken in the past, which have not always been politically expedient. The people of Wisconsin are lucky to have you as a Senator.

  •  End electoral college also before another debacle (0+ / 0-)

    If we are pushing for more direct democracy by requiring special elections on Senate vacancies then we must include ending the electoral college which visited the terrible disaster of war and economic ruin on America with the Bush minority presidency.

  •  Dorgan had a great speech today on the Senate flo (0+ / 0-)

    on the Treasury Secretary.

    I just love him.  He said - Whoa!  Hold the farm - these guys are the same guys that started this crap in the 90..s with the banking debacle.

    Takin it to the streets....Doobie Brothers

    by totallynext on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 06:05:58 PM PST

  •  How about stopping either-or? (0+ / 0-)

    Personally, I salute you, Senator, and support your efforts in this regard.

    This obsession in the comments with getting just one's pet peeve, and only that pet peeve, addressed by government - and the implication that anything else government does is taking away energy and attention from one's pet peeve - is just incompatible with our system of government.

    "It's the economy, stupid!"
    "It's the war, stupid!"
    "It's corporate greed, stupid!"
    "It's lack of accountability" etc etc.

    Congress neither can nor should stop its daily business and avoid dealing with multiple urgent issues because some of its citizens can only think linearly.

    Addressing flaws and loopholes in our system of selecting representatives is urgent and necessary - and, because it is a long process, should be started immediately.

    AND, we need to look at other loopholes and weaknesses in the system that were exploited, in some cases for the first time or to unprecedented extent, by the Bush Administration.

    It is disheartening that the primary response to a Senator taking action to address a genuine hindrance to the exercise of democracy is, "but we have to do THIS instead/first!"

    Let's applaud ALL efforts to make government more responsive to the people.

    One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

    by RandomActsOfReason on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 06:19:38 PM PST

  •  Thanks for addressing our concerns Russ (0+ / 0-)

    It's good to have politicians that have good ideas and then respond to people's concerns about them. You would think this is common sense, but many politicians seem to ignore feedback. And it's for this reason that we keep sending you back to Washington.

  •  Do the US an Even Bigger Favor Senator (0+ / 0-)

    Put first things first.

    Take the money and special interest out of politics with Mandatory Public Funding for Election Campaigns.


    Let's have a Congressional Ethics Comittee overseen by qualified outsiders and not have the congressional inmates guarding each other's backs instead of the public's.

    Do those two things and almost everything else will fall in line.

  •  I think the person who came in 2nd (0+ / 0-)

    in the primary should get the position.  If Dems vote in a primary for Senate, the Senator that gets 2nd most votes, should get appointed.  At least there was an election and there is no need for another election.  Same for the Republican.  

  •  I'm Proud Senator Feingold is my Senator (0+ / 0-)

    I couldn't be happier with Senator Feingold, he has done an excellent job in the Senate. He demonstrates again that he is one of the few Senators with backbone and intelligence.

    Thank you Senator Feingold!

  •  More and Better Democracy (0+ / 0-)

    The current problems with replacing senators from NY and IL shows how risky the appointment procedure is, and how easily it can go wrong. Even in CO and DE it's not as good as direct election.

    A nation that can recognize this process is a problem without waiting for it to cause catastrophe, but only when it's clearly a problem, is a country that deserves the fix without the usual damage.

    We should finish the work that the 17th Amendment started. More democracy, not less.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 07:54:31 PM PST

    •  The problem is that quick replacement elections (0+ / 0-)

      really won't be fair either.  The wealthy candidates will be at a huge advantage.

      I feel that a Senate seat is won not only by an individual but also by a party.  It seems more reasonable to me to allow the party to name the replacement.

      •  We're Not Parliamentary (0+ / 0-)

        The advantage of rich people in any election is a separate problem from filling prematurely empty Senate seats. We have elections for House replacements without any extra pressure from that advantage that we don't have in regular elections. The solution to this problem is to require all campaign expenses by each campaign to be funded by drawing equally from a central fund into which all contributions are made, never any funding directly (or unequally) to any single candidate, even including their own funds. That is a simple and effective solution to a central problem that transcends Senate replacements that is long overdue, but is not made any more or less important by putting Senate replacements along with all other installations in Congress.

        Senate seats are even more certainly not won by a party in our system. You are referring to the parliamentary systems as in the UK, where the prime minister is elected by parliament members according to their party identification. Even the way the House Speaker or Senate Majority Leader are elected in the US are not strictly according to party membership, though each chamber's members always vote that way. Parties already have far too much institutionalized power in our government, which is designed (and steadily evolves) to provide the most direct election of officials possible.

        Our system makes it possible for anyone to be elected to any office, meeting only criminal, minimal age and residence requirements. Appointments completely circumvent that. And make worse our existing problems of wealth advantage and partisan prejudice. Elections derive a representative's power from the explicit consent of the governed, which is the only just base of power in our country.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Tue Jan 27, 2009 at 11:15:53 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for posting Senator a point however (0+ / 0-)

    You state as a basic fact that the citizens had no say in the appointment of your peers.

    the basic fact that the citizens of these states have had no say in who should represent them in the Senate.  The same is true of the recent selections in Delaware and Colorado.

    The citizens of those states voted for an executive they entrusted with that decision.  They did have a say when they voted for their governor with the knowledge that appointing Senators was one of their duties.  

    F-Tha NSA comin straight from the underground. Record this bitches!

    by Adept2u on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 08:01:17 PM PST

  •  I have a dream.... (3+ / 0-)

    a dream that one day our Senate will be lead by someone who understands the Constitution, the advantages of transparency, a set of core principles that can not be compromised, and willing to lead.  In that dream, the person's initials are R. F.

    Unfortunately, it is only a dream...

    Do not become the sycophants we have despised for 8 years.

    by justmy2 on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 08:01:19 PM PST

  •  you are on the right track Russ ol' boy! mahalo (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matrix Dweller
  •  Thank you very much, Senator. n/t. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matrix Dweller

    "God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion." --Jefferson

    by sk4p on Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 08:59:24 PM PST

  •  Walking and chewing gum (0+ / 0-)

    In response to the update...

    I fall into the group of people who feel more pressing issues need attention.  While I'm all for this issue being addressed in addition to the others, I've yet to see any of the "more pressing issues" dealt with.

    You've started moving the ball on the new amendment.  Are you going to move any of the other balls or just say you're going to move them?

    Because the absence of any action or public statements regarding: war crimes, genocide in gaza, or the two wars we are still fighting means that right now the amendment seems to be a greater priority for you.  

    This is precisely what people in the "more pressing issues" camp are talking about.  You can't just pay it lip service here on Daily Kos simply to rally the troops behind your amendment.  Let's get the momentum going on the gaza situation and prosecuting Bush/Cheney for war crimes and then I'll chew some gum with you.

    Sorry to sound so standoff-ish. You're my favorite Senator and I was one of many who were trying to get you to run in '08. But I remain doubtful of this strategy at a time when so much is so wrong elsewhere.

  •  How can one argue against this idea? (0+ / 0-)

    There are more pressing issues?  There are always more pressing issues.  Change is holistic, not incremental.

  •  Something more substantive-corporate status (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    daulton, Matrix Dweller

    Senator.  In your own words:

    "Constitutional amendments should be considered only when a statutory remedy to a problem is not available, and when the impact of the issue at hand on the structure of our government, the safety, welfare, or freedoms of our citizens, or the survival of our democratic republic is so significant that an amendment is warranted."

    The long standing ability of corporations to manipulate public policy through lobbying and campaign efforts is well known.  It cannot be limited by statute because corporations claim Constitutional speech rights.  In fact, consider the case involving Oprah and the beef industry in which corporations claimed rights superior to individual speech rights.  THIS is the issue that underlies virtually all others except the social issues.  Why not an ammendment clarifying and limiting corporate rights?  It's even more important.

    •  As long as we are straying off subject (0+ / 0-)

      Brad's Blog recently cited what he (and I) see as THE root cause of our problems. We are an occupied nation, with right-wing media broadcasting occupation radio and TV.

      If you listened to the corpo media during the inaguration, Bush was given a "fond farewell" by the crowd.


      And bullshit is what we get 24/7 on the 6 right-wing radio stations here in Central Ohio.

      And I think the reason the Dems are such cowards, trying to "conmpromise" with GOPers, while most Americans are demanding action, is they too have fallen for the lie.

      Make radio responsible again. If they use our public airwaves, they must once again be open for public review, and comment when their FCC licenses are renewed.

      And kill the mega ownership and robo radio.

      If nothing else we are being BORED to death by the incessant right-wing blather. Ratings prove we want better radio.

  •  How about letting the candidate name their (0+ / 0-)

    replacement?  To me, that makes more sense than the governor.  If the candidate cannot name a replacement (death/impairment) then let the candidate's party name one.

    I understand the desire for special elections but just think of the costs.  Not only just the cost to run the election but also the cost for the parties, donors and candidates.  Yes, I said donors and not the wealthy ones either.  More like you and me after this last election when we all probably gave more than we really could to get our candidates elected in the first place.

    I also worry about fairness.  How quickly will the election be held after the vacancy?  If there is not a long enough period of time, the elections will be won by the ones with the most name recognition and wealth.  Is that fair?  Is that democratic?

    I really like the candidate choosing a replacement.  The people entrusted the candidate with the position, it just seems that they would be the best to appoint someone to replace them.

  •  ooohh the Blago problem solved. (0+ / 0-)

    I really don't care.

    Fix the Economy, use your political capitol to defend the President.

  •  A Problem with special elections (0+ / 0-)

    Most states have single round special elections with the winner having the plurality. This seldom reflects the true popularity of the candidates if two or three strong candidates from one party split their vote and let someone from the other party win with 30-35% of the vote.

    Instant runoff voting or variations on it would allow the state to have a single round and still reflect the desires of the voters.

  •  Yes, Yes Yes! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I am from Illinois, so I naturally agree 100% with your proposed constitutional amendment.  I also have no problem with spending taxpayer dollars to hold a special election.  Not having an election because it costs money is a ridiculous argument to make in a democratic-republic.

  •  God bless Alaska -- for *almost* everything! n/t (0+ / 0-)

    The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy Office & Scotch Tape Shoppe: Meeting your conspiracy and adhesive needs with Jack and a Beck's back

    by blogpotato on Tue Jan 27, 2009 at 05:52:41 PM PST


    The amendment says that the executive shall call for a new election, but provides no schedule and no penalty for not doing so.

    Imagine a governor deciding to schedule the replacement election 5 years hence, to deny the opposition party the chance to have a new senator.  This amendmentment would presumably give him/her the power to do so, and, as part of the Constitution itself, would trump any legislative attempts to move the election up to a more rationale date.

    There must be a provision that the election be held within some time frame, or you'll have a Constitutional crisis on your hands down the line, guaranteed.

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