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Poll results: Should the 16th and 17th Amendments be Repealed?

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  • Yes, they should both be repealed.

    4 21.05%
  • Only the 16th Amendment should be repealed.

    1 5.26%
  • Only the 17th Amendment should be repealed.

    1 5.26%
  • Neither should be repealed.

    9 47.37%
  • Why do you hate the U.S. Constitution?

    4 21.05%
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Thread: Should We Repeal the 16th and 17th Amendments to the United States Constitution

  1. #1
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Should We Repeal the 16th and 17th Amendments to the United States Constitution

    Many people argue that the while good in theory, the 16th and 17th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution have had a lasting, negative impact on our federal government.

    The 16th Amendment allowed for the direct taxation by the federal government of your income, without giving it back to the States. It was seen by some as a response to the concentration of economic power by the wealthy. Some say now that it allowed the federal government to grow out of control.

    The 17th Amendment was a way to give power back to the citizens by allowing for the direct election of U.S. Senators. However, arguments have been made that this amendment furthered the weakening of States' power.

    Some take the 16th and 17th Amendments as gospel, because they know no other way of living. But should we consider abolishing one or both? Have they caused more harm than good?
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    The 16th Amendment is a funny one since the states that seem to complain most about it are the ones that benefit most from it. With that said, I think the federal government taxing is a necessity given how poor many of the rural states are. Sure, it's not fair to states like Illinois, California, or New York that are really hurting for revenue now but it's better than a lot of rural America being in essentially the third world.

    As for the 17th Amendment, I'm kind of mixed on it but I'm inclined to say keep it. Given how bad some state legislatures are, a direct election seems like a good thing now. I think it's a good way to weed out some of those crazies that might have been selected otherwise.

  3. #3
    NO NO NO NO NO NO

    Please. The income tax is essential to modern government. Getting rid of states electing senators was a move towards democracy. This is one of a series of irrelevant threads.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    I really don't know why it would be worth the trouble and expense of repealing the amendments and dealing with the consequences.
    Off-topic:
    Out of curiousity, what percentage of federal income is derived from individual and corporate income taxes? If the question has already been answered, forgive me. Economics makes my eyes glaze over and my brain go into hibernation.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  5. #5
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ofos View post
    Off-topic:
    Out of curiousity, what percentage of federal income is derived from individual and corporate income taxes? If the question has already been answered, forgive me. Economics makes my eyes glaze over and my brain go into hibernation.
    Individual income taxes = 47 percent
    Corporate Taxes = 12 percent
    Payroll taxes = 33 percent
    Other (excise taxes, customs, misc.) = 8 percent

    http://nationalpriorities.org/budget...-101/revenues/
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Its good tax policy to have an income tax although if you repealed and replaced the 16th with a mix of income and VAT I probably would be supportive. Starving the beast has not worked when taxes have been, the federal government grows. Up until 30 years ago taxes and spending where somewhat related. You added programs eventually taxes went up. Once upon a time being a fiscal conservative meant you wanted to kept deficits and the debt low and when they were sufficiently lower you cut taxes. Now fiscal conservatives are really credit card conservatives cut taxes and ignore the expediture side of the balance sheet.


    I am in favor or repealing the 17th amendment. Part of the federalist system is the states need a "seat at the table" when it comes to the federal government. A major reason for the 17th amendment was several states were not sending Senators to Washington. Given the influence now it would be hard to believe any state would not send a delegation. States now have less power at the federal level then the NRA or AARP. States hire lobbyist like trade associations. Since many programs enacted by the Federal government are implemented by the states then the states' leadership should have a voice in the discussion.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  7. #7
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    I would only support an alteration to the 16th that resulted in a broader range of taxes, including income. As others have said, starving the beast is not an acceptable option. Current discussions of 16th amendment repeal are being done exclusively by blow-hard politicians with no understanding of fiscal health.

    I understand the argument for repealing the 17th amendment, but would not support that action. My main reason for this is that it would turn the senate representation into a "winner take all" format for each state's Senate seats even if one party has only a slim majority in their state house. This would exacerbate the existing issues with the 2-party system and further erode abilities for independents/3rd parties. Also, states with bicameral state bodies might face serious difficulty selecting Senators if the two bodies are controlled by different parties, particularly given bitter partisanship battles. Heck, you can already see how this plays out in redistricting (Texas providing a particularly bad example). I could see this causing gridlock much like the confirmation process for presidential appointments.

    Amendments I would like to see:

    Conversion of the Presidency to a single 6-year term from the current two 4-year terms. I'm tired of the perpetual campaign and efforts by losing parties to sabotage in hopes of regaining the chair in the reelection cycle. I think this would result in significantly better policy & leadership.

    Campaign finance/lobby restriction. Since the Supreme's bungled the Citizens United ruling, we've all seen what the influx of money has done. The best way to fix it at this point is a Constitutional amendment.

    Elimination of the electoral college. This provision is simply antiquated and has resulted in some troubling phenomenon: the winner failing to win the popular vote, the focus on "swing states" rather than true national campaigning...

    Requirement that legislators cannot exempt themselves or provide better service to themselves than the laws they pass for regular citizens. <--poorly worded, but you get the idea

    And given how redistricting is often done to preserve incumbants, I think term limits are necessary at least in the House of Representatives.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  8. #8
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    I would repeal the 16th Amendment and replace with a combination income tax and value added tax. I don't like the fact that so much federal revenue is based upon what I earn. I'd rather it be based on what I consume, or contribute to the economy. If I choose to save all my money and live a quiet life, I shouldn't be penalized.

    Although I'm torn on the 17th Amendment, I lean slightly towards repealing it. I think it would take the Senators out of the national campaign finance/lobbying/vote-buying that we have now, and make them beholden to their State's interests. It's a lesser of two evils in my opinion. Maybe not. I don't know. I'm done making polls.
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  9. #9
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    As I understand it the problem before the 16th amendment was that some states were refusing to pay their fair share towards things of national interest like infrastructure and military. As it is, my state gets back only about half of every dollar we pay to the fed while the welfare states get way more than they pay in. If this would fix that I would be happy. I'm really tired of stupid people from the welfare states crying about "my tax dollars are paying for blah blah blah" when in fact they aren't even paying for their own state improvements.

    If getting rid of the 17th would get rid of corporate control of elections then I would be for it - but I would be wary that the corporations would just have even more control over the appointments.

    In reality - this country is broken and it is not ever going to be fixed, so we might as well just all smoke some pot and stop worrying about it.
    Children in the back seat can cause accidents - and vice versa.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    I don't think that either one should be repealed.

    The 16th amendment-the world has changed and there is more of a demand for a centralized government. The tax helps fund the federal government. I also don't see the amendment ever being repealed, Thanks to Citizen's United, there are too many people benefiting from the ways things are now. These people and corporations have money, so nothing is going to happen.

    As for the 17th, people should have the right to directly vote for their elected officials. Using the state legislator puts a step in there that doesn't belong.
    Last edited by Whose Yur Planner; 07 Sep 2012 at 1:34 PM.
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  11. #11
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Remember that the 16th Amendment does not give the Federal Government the right to tax. This power was already in effect well before the Amendment passed. In fact, its in the Constitution (Article I, Section 8) “The Congress shall have power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.”

    The 16th Amendment is specifically about the apportionment of tax revenues to the states. The Amendment says the Federal Government does not necessarily need to give all this tax revenue back to the states (they could use it, say, for defense spending) and that any apportionment to them need not be based on population (so, road building roads in sparsely populated areas could be funded by everyone’s dollars – even someone who lives in Manhattan). I think the ability to apply tax revenue to areas of greatest need is the key element of the 16th Amendment. It allowed, for example, tax revenue to be used to electrify remote and rural parts of the country that otherwise could not fund it through their own tax base. It also allows the Federal Government to pay for aspects of the common good that are above and beyond geographically specific areas.

    I absolutely think the Federal Government’s ability to redistribute collected taxes based on need is essential to keeping us united and not allowing for dramatic disparities between poorer parts of the country and wealthier areas. Definitely would not want to get rid of the 16th Amendment.

    I don’t want to get rid of the 17th Amendment either. Its worth noting that leading up to the Amendment, there was a lot of popular support for direct election of senators. By 1910, for example, 31 state legislatures had passed resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment allowing direct elections. There were 46 states in the union in 1910. I think we enjoy a lot more plurality with the current system. If the state legislatures elected our senators, it would likely be along party lines. One of the issues prior to the Amendment was that legislatures with even splits between parties had a hard time passing a vote to elect a senator and so many seats went vacant. Also, in my state at least, it is not uncommon to have, say, a Democratic state legislature and a Republican senators in Washington. Or one of each. It seems a lot more balanced that way.

    I’m not clear what the argument in support of state appointed senators is. What are the perceived benefits?
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  12. #12
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    BOTH

    Taxes is one of the major reasons the American Revolution started and it was a massive deal to the founders. In face 12 of the 85 Federalist Papers talked about how taxation should work and they all stated that at a federal level, it should be an indirect tax. As an example, In Federalist Paper 21, Alexander Hamilton argued that it is fine for the Federal Government to assess direct taxes on each state government, but not on individuals as a way to prevent direct taxation of the people. They had just witnessed the differences between the direct and indirect taxation models with Ireland and Scotland. Scotland, while still under British rule, had it's own parliament which paid taxes Great Britain. However the people paid their taxes to the Sottish parliament and not the British parliament. This kept a lot of the British control at bay. Ireland on the other hand paid direct taxes to GB and this resulted in great civil unrest and substantial poverty. The people had no control over their own lives and were at the whim of British regulation. Federalist 33 also explained that the indirect method would curb the power of the Federal Government, this keeping the Federalist model and not a National model. Furthermore Federalist 44, stated that the powers of the Federal Government should be limited only to those found in Article 1 Section 8, there was only a limited number of things that the Federal Government could do. With limited funding, comes a limited ability to expand power outside of the intention of the founding fathers.

    Power is once again part of the reason for the original setup for the Senate. They realized that by an appointment, each state would have an effective seat at the federal level and not just one elected by mob mentality. John Adams further explained this in is writing "A Defense of the Constitutions of the Government of the United States of America." Before the 17th Amendment was put into place, there was a divisive split in the character of the two houses. The Senate full of wealthy people who had 'connections' at the state level. In return, this is where many of the business leaders and lawyers ended up with a major goal to protect the money of their state. It also kept a major curb on spending and kept the budgets in check. However, the House, which was always directly elected, was made of up mostly common people and they did not have the same limitation of having to protect the funding from the state. In the book "Democracy in America" author Alexander Tocqueville actually pointed out that if the Senate were elected by the the people, it would result a shift of supremacy and actually encouraged the house to be appointed too.

    In short, both need to repealed to curb an out of control federal government. And why were are at it, eliminate the federal reserve and correct the issues caused by the 1923 Butler v. United States opinion that changed the definition of general welfare.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  13. #13
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    originally posted by michaelskis In fact 12 of the 85 Federalist Papers talked about how taxation should work and they all stated that at a federal level, it should be an indirect tax.
    You are correct that the 16th Amendment exempts income tax from the constitutional requirements regarding “direct taxes” (after income taxes on rents, dividends and interest were ruled to be direct taxes). Without this power, of course, the Federal Government is left with very little potential to generate revenue. I am suspecting that you are in favor of this because it would force the government into contraction. But recognize that 47 percent of all budget revenue comes from individual income taxes. Without that money, there is no way in hell we will reduce our debt, our infrastructure will crumble and any remaining support services that keep people afloat will disintegrate. Maybe that’s your goal, but I think this would be more than ruinous.

    I am sensing the argument against the 16th amendment here is that it allows the federal government to be too big by grabbing so much money? Personally, I was struck by the president’s comments in his convention speech where he noted that just because government can’t solve every problem doesn’t mean it is the source of every problem. I object to this notion that we need to shrink the government to improve our quality of life. I look at the programs our government provides at the federal level and I am proud of what it does. There is always room for improved efficiency, of course, but that is as much the case at a business as in government at any level.

    originally posted by michaelskis Power is once again part of the reason for the original setup for the Senate. They realized that by an appointment, each state would have an effective seat at the federal level and not just one elected by mob mentality.
    Mob mentality?! You mean the electorate? Yeah, they can really get in the way of democracy, huh? I guess the crux of this issue in the way you frame it is who do the senators represent? The people of the state or the state legislature? Because that is essentially the difference here. I think it should be the state residents to whom the senators are accountable, personally. Having a direct line to your senator is extremely important and is a key way many people “redress the government for grievances” (the whole “call your senator and voice your concerns” concept) If the senators are elected by the state legislature, they don’t really have much of a reason to respond to or represent those opinions. Because, what are we gonna do, vote them out?
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  14. #14
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner View post
    In reality - this country is broken and it is not ever going to be fixed, so we might as well just all smoke some pot and stop worrying about it.
    I like your solution, so let's keep those amendments and repeal the pot law.
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  15. #15
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner View post

    In reality - this country is broken and it is not ever going to be fixed, so we might as well just all smoke some pot and stop worrying about it.
    Stoned people don't start revolution, muh 'bre.
    -------
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  16. #16
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post

    I’m not clear what the argument in support of state appointed senators is. What are the perceived benefits?


    Mob mentality?! You mean the electorate? Yeah, they can really get in the way of democracy, huh? I guess the crux of this issue in the way you frame it is who do the senators represent? The people of the state or the state legislature? Because that is essentially the difference here. I think it should be the state residents to whom the senators are accountable, personally. Having a direct line to your senator is extremely important and is a key way many people “redress the government for grievances” (the whole “call your senator and voice your concerns” concept) If the senators are elected by the state legislature, they don’t really have much of a reason to respond to or represent those opinions. Because, what are we gonna do, vote them out?
    If you are a State and want to "redress the government for grievances" who do you call? The idea of the Senate was the state's seat at the table. Now they are reduced to lobbying Congress like an interest group. Given much of what the Federal government does requires the states to implement they should have some say, unlike now. I think a state appointed Senate would be more regionally focused and would lessen the partisan nature in Washington. If you are a senator who likes be a senator are you more likely to listen to your party leadership or your governor when a vote comes up that impacts the state.

    If you as a citizen want to "make your voice heard" in Washington then call your representative. If the state government wants their voice heard they call a senator. When I first heard about repealing the 17th amendment several years ago I thought it was a terrible idea. The more I have learned how little say the states have on the system changed my mind, look at how much the NGA spends on lobbying Congress and how often Governors have to go to DC to advocate for legislation.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Quote Originally posted by Brocktoon View post
    If you are a State and want to "redress the government for grievances" who do you call? The idea of the Senate was the state's seat at the table. Now they are reduced to lobbying Congress like an interest group. Given much of what the Federal government does requires the states to implement they should have some say, unlike now. I think a state appointed Senate would be more regionally focused and would lessen the partisan nature in Washington. If you are a senator who likes be a senator are you more likely to listen to your party leadership or your governor when a vote comes up that impacts the state.

    If you as a citizen want to "make your voice heard" in Washington then call your representative. If the state government wants their voice heard they call a senator. When I first heard about repealing the 17th amendment several years ago I thought it was a terrible idea. The more I have learned how little say the states have on the system changed my mind, look at how much the NGA spends on lobbying Congress and how often Governors have to go to DC to advocate for legislation.
    What if we split it?

    One Senator picked by the state and one picked by election.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ddomin4360 View post
    What if we split it?

    One Senator picked by the state and one picked by election.
    Compromise? How brilliant!
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  19. #19
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by btrage View post
    Compromise? How brilliant!
    Come on now... we know that is not allowed...

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  20. #20
    Compromise is generally good. BUT

    What percentage of the US really wants to go back to having legislatures appoint senators? I'll bet you only a small fraction. So going to 50% is not a compromise, it's a surrender to a small minority.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    Compromise is generally good. BUT

    What percentage of the US really wants to go back to having legislatures appoint senators? I'll bet you only a small fraction. So going to 50% is not a compromise, it's a surrender to a small minority.
    Once upon a time the same could be said for the right for women to vote. Although I agree it probably will never happen and there is only a fringe element advocating for it. My guess for the next Constitutional amendment will be either the elmination of the electoral college or granting DC full voting rights in Congree...of course only a fringe elements supports the latter as well.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    NO NO NO NO NO NO

    Please. The income tax is essential to modern government. Getting rid of states electing senators was a move towards democracy. This is one of a series of irrelevant threads.
    What Gotta Speakup said.

    Replacing the federal income tax would simply be a prelude to a national sales tax that would, essentially, raise the price of everything anywhere from 30 to 50%, except, of course, wages. That will work real well for the economy, right?

    Oh, and states' right suck. All states' rights have ever done for this country is kill 600,000+ Americans, made life hell for African Americans for two hundred plus years, and impoverished the South for a century. I think that's more than enough damage from a political theory to last this country forever.

    We are a nation with a national identity and a national culture, NOT a collection of quasi-independent states. Deal with it. That's NOT even taking into consideration that there's more diversity within states than between states.

    Besides, the bigots that run some states still have more than enough power to continue to make life hell for various groups of people they don't like, such as gays, so they don't need more.
    If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. -- John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961

  23. #23
    Quote Originally posted by Brocktoon View post
    Once upon a time the same could be said for the right for women to vote. Although I agree it probably will never happen and there is only a fringe element advocating for it. My guess for the next Constitutional amendment will be either the elmination of the electoral college or granting DC full voting rights in Congree...of course only a fringe elements supports the latter as well.
    No. Giving women the vote is not the moral equivalent of abolishing direct election of senators. Really what percentage of the US public wants to go back to the old style of senators, 5%, 10%? I would bet even the majority of Republicans don't want to. Show me a poll where a significant number of the US population wants this and I would agree to a compromise. Otherwise it's a small tiny minor uppity pushing their agenda on the majority in a way that takes away individual rights. Did this even make the Repubkican platform? If it did not, that tells you something about its support out there.

    I would bet that a majority of e US supported a woman's right to vote by the time it happened. Certainly a heck of a lot more than 5%.

    Not to mention the immorality of putting anyone's civil rights to a poll or a vote.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Brocktoon View post
    Once upon a time the same could be said for the right for women to vote. Although I agree it probably will never happen and there is only a fringe element advocating for it. My guess for the next Constitutional amendment will be either the elmination of the electoral college or granting DC full voting rights in Congree...of course only a fringe elements supports the latter as well.
    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    No. Giving women the vote is not the moral equivalent of abolishing direct election of senators. Really what percentage of the US public wants to go back to the old style of senators, 5%, 10%? I would bet even the majority of Republicans don't want to. Show me a poll where a significant number of the US population wants this and I would agree to a compromise. Otherwise it's a small tiny minor uppity pushing their agenda on the majority in a way that takes away individual rights. Did this even make the Repubkican platform? If it did not, that tells you something about its support out there.

    I would bet that a majority of e US supported a woman's right to vote by the time it happened. Certainly a heck of a lot more than 5%.

    Not to mention the immorality of putting anyone's civil rights to a poll or a vote.
    GS you completely missed my point. I was agreeing with you that there is little support for repealing the 17th amendment. I was using the history of woman's suffrage as an example of an idea that started slowly, died a couple of times before it became law. I made no mention of moral equivalents in my post. I was suggesting that this fringe idea could be in its infancy and could gain interest over a long period of time; again, like the sufrage movement.

    If you look at the history of the woman's suffrage movement from the mid 19th century on you would see there was little support and was viewed in America at the time as a fringe movement with no real chance of success. When the 15th amendment was proposed the woman's suffrage movement split because including women was not part of the language. If want a great example of how states rights was a positive effort look at the number of states that allowed woman's suffrage before the 19th amendment was passed.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  25. #25
    What you said makes perfect sense.

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