Your Say • Readers Write

Your Say • Readers Write

Dear Editor:

I am writing in response to the Op-Ed article by Moshe Hill about the business of kashrus.

It is not the business of kashrus agencies to judge the individual religiousness of someone. While the comedian Leah Forster does not follow a Torah lifestyle, she does not tell off-color jokes, and her comedy doesn’t reflect her life. Many establishments have had Rubashkin at their events and the kashrus agencies don’t seem to care. While I agree that if she told off-color jokes it would not be appropriate, she does not. Are we going to put a religious test on everyone who wants to rent a kosher restaurant? Should we stop people who aren’t religious from holding events at kosher restaurants because they are m’chalel Shabbos (as long as they don’t discuss this at their events)?

By agencies trying to stop such events, they are just pushing people away from Judaism. They are not giving their blessing to the event if it’s a private event and lifestyles are not discussed. They are making a joke of kashrus, as people will see kashrus is more political than anything else.

Howard Schoenfeld

The Senate: Civics 101

 

Dear Editor:

Ever since the midterm elections, the calls from Democrats to abolish the Senate have gotten louder and more annoying. They’ve invented from thin air completely new and meaningless terms, such as the “House popular vote” and “Senate popular vote”; the one small problem is that House elections operate by congressional district and Senate elections operate by state. There is no “national popular vote” for either legislative body, and so those terms carry no meaning whatsoever; they’re complete gibberish.

But either way, it’s important to ask the obvious question: Why are Democrats so obsessed with abolishing the Senate? What to do they have against such an important institution in our government?

The answer in one sentence: They failed American Civics 101. In order to explain why, it’s important to first understand the purpose and makeup of the Senate.

Before the 17th Amendment of the Constitution was passed in 1913, Senators were elected by their state legislatures, unlike congressional representatives who were directly elected by the people. The reason the Framers of the Constitution chose two different methods of election for each legislative body was because each body was created with a different purpose. (See The Federalist Papers and James Madison’s Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 for an excellent in-depth discussion of this.) Members of the House of Representatives, who were directly responsible to the people, would no doubt be elected directly by the people themselves. The Senate, however, was different. The purpose of the Senate was to represent the states of the union and to serve as a check on the federal government. The state legislatures were more readily aware of who would best represent the interests of their state and safeguard them from federal overreach than individual people who have individual interests could, and therefore gave them the power of electing senators.

This system operated for over 100 years – that was, until the passage of the 17th Amendment, which changed the method of Senate elections: Now they would be directly elected by the people. This change was pushed by the Progressive Movement in the early 20th century, which claimed that (prior to the eventual passage of the 17th Amendment) the Senate was “undemocratic” because, initially, the people didn’t elect them directly. Progressives’ stated goal, and what they tried selling to the American public in order to get this constitutional amendment passed, was the necessity to make our government institutions “more democratic” by putting more authority into the hands of the people. In order to do this, they publicly supported direct elections of senators. Of course, they straight-up lied; what they really wanted to do was to abolish the states’ representation by the Senate in order to centralize authority into the hands of the federal government. With this new method of election in place, the Senate would no longer function as it was supposed to, since Senators would no longer be elected by the states, the very entities they were supposed to protect against the federal government in the first place. This new makeup severely undermined the bicameral nature of the Congress and the federalist nature of the government.

Now that we’ve covered a very brief historical background into the Senate, you’ll begin to understand why calls for its abolition usually come from people who failed basic American civics. (Hint: they usually have a “D” after their name.)

The argument goes something like this: “It’s not fair. If the Senate represents the people, so then why does every state have two senators regardless of population size? Why, for example, should California, which has a very large population (38.8 million), and Alabama, which has a very small population (4.8 million), each have two senators? Is that fair? And if you think about it, as a percentage of the total population, this effectively gives Alabama about eight times the representation than California! It’s absurd!”

This argument is stunningly ignorant and lacking in any self-awareness. If people understood that the Senate represents the states, this question would sound nonsensical; it’s obvious why each state has two senators regardless of population size. However, if the Senate represents the people, which is what Democrats think it does or should do, then the question makes perfect sense: Senatorial representation should be proportional to the population of the state, like the House. But then the Senate would be superfluous, because the House already performs that function, which is exactly why Democrats want to abolish it in the first place. Isn’t it quite amazing that Democrats, whose ancestors were the very people who pushed for direct elections for senators, and who themselves currently support it as well, now have the audacity to complain that it’s stupid and nonsensical that every state still has two senators, regardless of population size? They’re the ones who got us into this hot mess in the first place! Will they ever learn that the House of Representatives represents people, and the Senate represents states? Don’t count on it.

Rafi Metz

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