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9 Sep, 2020 18:57

US senator's solution to ‘Make Senate Great'? Cut the cameras, don't let popular vote elect lawmakers, expand terms to 12 years

US senator's solution to ‘Make Senate Great'? Cut the cameras, don't let popular vote elect lawmakers, expand terms to 12 years

Republican Senator Ben Sasse is at the center of a national online discussion after his ideas to reform the US Senate according to the Founding Fathers' supposed wishes were critiqued as both undemocratic and simply “weird.”

Sasse’s Wall Street Journal opinion piece, published on Tuesday and titled “Make the Senate Great Again,” most notably made the case for repealing the 17th amendment of the constitution. This change would put an end to US senators being elected by statewide popular vote. The Nebraska legislator would like the country to go back to the pre-1912 amendment rule, where state legislatures voted on the two senators being sent to Washington, DC.

Perhaps the second-most discussed idea in Sasse’s plan to fight the Senate’s “bipartisan rot” was to house its legislators together in dormitories to “promote debate.” The would-be reformer would also like to get rid of the cameras which record and livestream the legislating sessions. In the presence of cameras, senators “aren’t trying to learn from witnesses, uncover details, or improve legislation. They’re competing for sound bites,” he wrote. “Without posturing for cameras, Republicans and Democrats cooperate on some of America’s most complicated and urgent problems.”

Additionally, Sasse proposed twelve-year term limits and abolishing standing committees, requiring senators to show up for debates.

Sasse’s ideas were widely regarded as unsubstantive and “weird” online, as he proposed some procedural changes which would not materially affect any power dynamics in Washington.

Some commenters were much more alarmist, however, saying that Sasse wants the Senate to be “less accountable.”

There were some Twitter users, though, who thought that a lot of Sasse’s ideas “make sense” and could “restore functional government.” 

Sasse has the national media spotlight since becoming known as a ‘populist’ and his party’s rising political star. Despite that, lately the senator’s persona has become quite a controversial one, after his multiple falls in and out of favor with Republican President Donald Trump. For now, their turbulent relationship settled on Trump labeling Sasse a RINO – a Republican in name only – back in August.

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