You can hear bad ideas almost every day. But only occasionally do you hear a colossally bad, ill-conceived idea, one that leaves you wondering who dreamed it up.
Tennessee state Sen. Frank Nicely, a Republican from Strawberry Plains, has introduced S.B. 471, which would, beginning in 2016, eliminate party primaries for the U.S. Senate in Tennessee. Members of the state Legislature would instead select the nominees. Republican House and Senate caucuses would pick the GOP nominee, and their Democratic counterparts would select their candidate. State Rep. Harry Brooks, R-Knoxville, has also introduced the bill in the Tennessee General Assembly.
- Democrats Spy Opportunities in Ruby-Red South Carolina
- GOP Runoff in South Carolina Is Mark Sanford's to Lose
- Arkansas' Oil Spill Stirs Opposition to the Keystone Pipeline
My first reaction was to be dismissive. In Washington, as in state legislatures around the country, we often see goofy bills and resolutions introduced, but most thankfully die without any action being taken. But what really got my attention was the news that the Tennessee Senate's State and Local Government Committee voted 7-1 last week to advance the bill. And, no, this isn't an April Fool's joke.
My second reaction was, why stop there? Why not just repeal the 17th Amendment to the Constitution and go back to the way things were before 1913 when voters had no say at all, and state legislatures elected U.S. senators? The 17th Amendment calls for the popular election of U.S. senators but is silent on nominations; indeed, the Constitution is silent on the whole issue of political parties.