Though they still intend to make health care reform the focus of their midterm election campaigning, many Republicans have rolled back their doom-and-gloom rhetoric on the legislation passed Sunday. Many, but not all. Almost alone in the vanguard of mad-as-hell conservatives stands Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who thinks the health care debate has exposed democracy's biggest enemy: Democracy itself. And Gohmert is demanding that swift action be taken against this internal threat.
Gohmert argued Monday that the direct election of US senators by the American public has led to "the usurpation of the rights of the states and of the people," which culminated in Sunday's health care vote. You see, 39 states don't like the health care
bill law by Gohmert's count (apparently because at least one disgruntled legislator in each of those states has suggested a bill barring local enforcement of the new federal law). And if those state legislatures could simply anoint their US senators, rather than leaving the choice to voters, then the voters' will could win the day. If only it weren't for that doggoned Constitution!
"Ever since the safeguard of state legislatures electing US senators was removed by the 17th Amendment in 1913, there has been no check or balance on the federal power grab for the last 97 years," Gohmert said in a press release. Later, in House floor remarks, he added that the Amendment enabled the "usurpation of states' rights...Let's get an amendment that gets the balance back into the country and the Constitution, before this Congress destroys what's left."
The merits, as they were, of Gohmert's argument have been well analyzed elsewhere: The irony of taking away the franchise in order to enfranchise America; the fact that, since 27 state legislatures are currently Democratic-run, it's unlikely Gohmert will actually be able to muster the 39 states needed to edit our nation's founding document; and the fact that this kinda sorta undercuts the GOP's contention of recent weeks that Sen. Scott Brown's election in Massachusetts—you know, by, like, voters—represented the Highest Will of the People.
Amazingly, Louie Gohmert was a judge before he was a congressman. In Texas. Also amazingly, he's not the first Republican in this Congress to want state legislatures to get veto power over Senate candidates.
Even as colorful ideologues go, Gohmert is a fascinating study. Lest you suspect he doesn't reflect deeply on his convictions, Mother Jones has compiled the recent highlights of his House tenure: