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Should a Congressman Only Stand For Moral and Sensible Actions...

  1. GA Anderson profile image86
    GA Andersonposted 14 months ago

    Should a Congressman Only Stand For Moral and Sensible Actions... that benefit all U.S. citizens?

    Or should they stand for the desired actions of their electors?

    I think it is the latter.

    If they cannot, in good conscience,  represent their electorate's desires, should they resign?

    I say yes.

    Of course we all can pick our poisons of topics and personalities, but conceptually... What say you?

    GA

    1. colorfulone profile image89
      colorfuloneposted 14 months ago in reply to this

      100% in agreement with you on that.
      They need to abide by the oath that they swore to uphold or resign.

      1. GA Anderson profile image86
        GA Andersonposted 14 months ago in reply to this

        Wellll... My question wasn't really about the Oath. It is more about standing for the wishes of their electorate.

        For example; If their electorate wants something that is clearly Constitutional, and legal, and good for them - but bad for a majority of the nation; what should be his vote?

        GA

        1. wilderness profile image97
          wildernessposted 14 months ago in reply to this

          No.  His vote should be no.  It probably won't be because that buys no votes, but it should be.

          1. GA Anderson profile image86
            GA Andersonposted 14 months ago in reply to this

            I will get back to you after we reach a common understanding of the obligations of Representation. So far you are reading like a "I know better than you" guy, and I don't think that is right, so clearly we must be talking about two different things.

            Every journey....

            GA

            1. wilderness profile image97
              wildernessposted 14 months ago in reply to this

              You plainly said that the choice to be made was to favor one small group while hurting the country as a whole.  And the only answer I can give is "no".

              It's fine to "represent" a group of people, but when they become a favored class while others suffer as a result it is not the responsibility of their "representative", who is primarily charged with running the country, to go along with it.

              1. GA Anderson profile image86
                GA Andersonposted 14 months ago in reply to this

                No, I plainly did not say a choice of action was made to favor a small group over the larger one. I said the choice of a representative stand was made. Nowhere did I say that stand should be the choice of action - unless that choice was supported by a majority of the other Representatives.

                But, if that choice were constitutional and legal, and it was the considered choice of the legislative body of Representatives, (note I did not say of a Representative or two, or thirty), then yes, that choice should be passed to the next higher house, in this case the Senate.

                And no, no, no ,no! A Representative is not primarily charged with running the country, the legislative body as a whole is. A Representative makes a contribution to the process, and that is his job - to contribute, but it is not his job to make decisions for the country. His job is to contribute to the decision making process.

                So who's contribution do you want made to that decision making process, yours, or your political representative's?

                GA

                1. PrettyPanther profile image88
                  PrettyPantherposted 14 months ago in reply to this

                  Using your argument, there would be no need for representatives.  Since they should only follow the will of the people, why not eliminate them altogether and follow the people's will directly by vote?

                  1. GA Anderson profile image86
                    GA Andersonposted 14 months ago in reply to this

                    How the hell did you get there?

                    I am beginning to feel apologetic for not clearly getting across what I mean. Those are not my arguments. A statement like that can only mean I have been confusing.

                    Let me extract some of the obvious, (to me), misunderstandings that combined to create that statement.

                    1) I am talking about a Representative, one of many that compose a legislative body, (in the case of our House - 435, other bodies vary but are still comparatively large numbers), I am not talking about actions of the body as a whole.

                    2) The "will of the people" to a Representative is the will of a group, not the will of all.

                    3) A Representative's job is to contribute to the process of governing. He is not the governor, nor a final decider, he is a participant. If he is not there to participate representing you, then he is there purely for governance. More of an administrator, or as the trades call it; a mechanic, so why consider issues at all in selecting a Representative, why not just select the most proficient administrators and mechanics?

                    ps. If my argument that a Representative's primary responsibility is to represent his voters is true, then his votes in the body will represent the popular vote of the people. Otherwise, wouldn't you have a body governing in the best interests of governance, rather than of the people? A body that governs based on what they think is best for you.

                    GA

                2. wilderness profile image97
                  wildernessposted 14 months ago in reply to this

                  "So who's contribution do you want made to that decision making process, yours, or your political representative's?"

                  I want MINE, of course!  Because I'm always right and never ask for anything that might harm anyone else or their pocketbook! While everyone else is always wrong!  lol

                  Fortunately we have legislators that should be able to determine what wants/demands are reasonable and which are not.  That they cannot, and vote in such a way as to garner re-election votes, is a failure of the system, not an indication of what they should be doing.

                  1. GA Anderson profile image86
                    GA Andersonposted 14 months ago in reply to this

                    It sounds like you are saying you want a Representative that will act in a manner that they think is best for you, rather than what you think is best for you. They get to decide which of your demands are reasonable.

                    If that is correct, then there is no need to even consider issues in the Representative selection/election process. Instead we should be considering their Solomon-quotient or their Sagacity Index.

                    GA

    2. Old Poolman profile image82
      Old Poolmanposted 14 months ago in reply to this

      Darn good question GA.  If we could trust them to tell the truth rather than what they think we want to hear it would be much easier to make our choices.

      To many of them get elected, then just vote for what the majority of their own party wants even if they don't agree.

      Most of them could care less what we citizens want once they get elected.  They spend the majority of every term trying to figure out how they can keep their job at the next election.

      1. GA Anderson profile image86
        GA Andersonposted 14 months ago in reply to this

        Here ya go Old Poolman, let me give ya hand out of the ditch.

        Forget about those rare politicians that you describe, what about the concept; "Should a representative do what they know or think their electorate wants, or should the representative do what they know or think is best for his electorate?"

        GA

        1. Old Poolman profile image82
          Old Poolmanposted 14 months ago in reply to this

          Let's hope they were elected because they are smart enough to make decisions that are best and right for all of the people.  But that rarely happens in real life.  I can't even imagine the pressure that is put on a new member of congress when it comes time to cast his vote on anything.  I'm sure they are being pulled in many directions and actually threatened at times.  Not a job I would want.

    3. Don W profile image84
      Don Wposted 14 months ago in reply to this

      Well here's a typical wishy-washy liberal take on it. I think it's both. The opinion of constituents and the best interests of constituents are not always the same thing. Constituents interests may best be served by voting contrary to local demands, and Representatives need to be able to discern when that's the case.

      This dual level of understanding was outlined by James Madison in The Federalist Papers, which laid out a case for ratifying the Constitution. In The Federalist Papers: Number 56, he argued that Representatives should have knowledge of the needs of their constituents:

      "It is a sound and important principle that the representative ought to be acquainted with the interests and circumstances of his constituents. . ." (1)

      But warned that Representatives would also need to acquire knowledge of national issues, as the scope of their role would be national:

      "On a comparison of the different States together, we find a great dissimilarity in their laws, and in many other circumstances connected with the objects of federal legislation, with all of which the federal representatives ought to have some acquaintance. Whilst a few representatives, therefore, from each State, may bring with them a due knowledge of their own State, every representative will have much information to acquire concerning all the other States." (2)

      In The Federalist Papers: Number 10, he compares a direct democracy with the republic system delineated in the Constitution, and in doing so also outlines the role of Representatives as he sees it:

      "The effect of the first difference [between a democracy and a republic] is, on the one hand, to refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations. Under such a regulation, it may well happen that the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves, convened for the purpose."(3)

      So Representatives were perceived, at least by Madison and the other authors of the Federalist Papers (Alexander Hamilton and John Jay) as performing a dual role: Giving expression to "the public voice", but tempering that with a wider sphere of knowledge about national issues (that perhaps the average citizen at the time may not have had). In that sense, I think the role of Representative was conceived as a trustee (discerning the best interests of constituents, and acting on them) rather than a delegate (voting strictly according to the opinion of constituents).

      Another problem with the Representatives-as-delegates model, is that it would be akin to a direct democracy (where people vote directly for or against laws). This form of governance was outright rejected by the authors of the Constitution, as explained by Madison:

      "... a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths."(4)

      Representatives voting directly in accordance with public opinion would suffer the same problem as a direct democracy. If laws are made only according to the majority, then the minority would be at risk of abuse. Bearing in mind that the Bill of Rights did not exist at that time, the problem of the "tyranny of the majority" was something the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they designed the system of government.

      But we may ask, what if the demands of the majority are perfectly compatible with the Constitution, and otherwise legal in every way? Is it not the duty of a Representative to work towards meeting those demands? No, because the scope of Congress is national. Therefore Representatives are obliged to consider whether a demand harms the national interest. So Representatives have two constraints:  the Constitution, and the national interest. If a demand is Constitutional etc., and does not harm the national interest, then it is absolutely the responsibility of a Representative to work towards meeting that demand. If not, then the above constraints will (should) prevent a Representative from working towards meeting that demand.

      But I don't think members of Congress voting for or against the opinion of their constituents is the current issue with Congress to be honest. I think it's worse than that. On some issues members of Congress are neither voting according to the opinions of their constituents, nor according to the national interest. They are voting according to the interests of their richest campaign donors, who may or may not have the interests of the people, or the country, at heart. Interestingly, in highlighting one of the downsides to establishing a republic as a system of government, Madison foresaw exactly this issue:

      "Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests, of the people."(5)

      Maybe it would be unfair to apply that description to all of Congress. But many members of Congress vote along party lines (against both local opinion and national interest) or for the benefit of special interest groups.

      If the opinions of Madison, Hamilton, Jay are anything to go by (and I don't see why they wouldn't be) it seems there was an understanding that Representatives would have to balance representing their constituents' opinions, with the national interest. In other words, constituents can have a reasonable expectation that their Representative will work towards local demands, providing they are not restricted from doing so by the two constraints mentioned above. Finding the balance between local demands and the national interest is not always easy to get right. Perhaps in some cases, a member of Congress could be forgiven for not accurately discerning the right time to support local demands, and the right time to forsake local demands in favor of national interest. Such members of Congress might only be guilty of trying to do a very difficult job. So I don't think that's the problem. The problem, as I see it, is that some members of Congress are doing neither of those things. Instead choosing to vote according to the highest bidder. It is those Representatives who, in the words of Madison, "betray the interests, of the people".

      (1) http://thomas.loc.gov/home/histdox/fed_56.html
      (2) http://thomas.loc.gov/home/histdox/fed_10.html
      (3) ibid
      (4) ibid
      (5) ibid

      1. wilderness profile image97
        wildernessposted 14 months ago in reply to this

        "They are voting according to the interests of their richest campaign donors, who may or may not have the interests of the people, or the country, at heart."

        And who could be considered more of a "constituent" than the one providing the means to continue the "representation" of the politician? sad

      2. GA Anderson profile image86
        GA Andersonposted 14 months ago in reply to this

        Hello Don, as I read it, your wishy-washy Liberal take is spot on to my points, up to the politics part.

        My objective was just to establish an understanding before launching into what I know will be a contentious discussion about the validity of some of the more controversial congressmen's positions, (think Teabagger Reps. or Ted Cruz-like Senators). I tried to steer clear of specific and topical qualifiers to make it less likely to become someone's favorite political shenanigans rant.

        GA

        1. Don W profile image84
          Don Wposted 14 months ago in reply to this

          From what I have read it seems you are saying that the Constitution is the main constraint on Representatives when considering the actions demanded by constituents; others seem to be saying that the national interest is the main constraint on Representatives; I am saying that both those things act as constraints on Representatives. I hope I haven't mangled anyone's view, as I have not read every post, but that seems to be the gist.

          So where an action demanded by constituents is constitutional and beneficial to the national interest (or at least not harmful to the national interest), then that action can (and should) be advocated for by the Representative. Where an action is not constitutional, then it's a given that it cannot be advocated by the Representative. And where an action is constitutional, but harmful to the national interest, then it should also not be advocated for by the Representative. A fair summary?

          1. wilderness profile image97
            wildernessposted 14 months ago in reply to this

            Not only fair, but a very good summary of my own position.  I would only add that it is not in the national interest to discriminate in any way against a minority - that if representation requires such an action for no better reason than the constituency wants it, then it is actually contrary to the national interest.

            1. Don W profile image84
              Don Wposted 14 months ago in reply to this

              I think deciding what is in the national interest is where most of the disagreement (and therefore the difficulty) lies, mainly because most people make a subjective judgement of this based on their worldview. So for example a religious person may deem that it is not in the national interest to do something they believe  violates "God's law". For a non religious person that determination is meaningless.

              Sure we can complain about that, but it's part of living in a free society. I think what many people mostly object to is where an action is widely supported by the public, and is more likely than not, in the national interest, but Congress still fails to act. I don't know if GA Anderson feels a basic principle has been sufficiently established yet. Until he does I would be reluctant to go into the details and potentially go in a direction he did not intend the OP to go, but there examples of that.

              1. GA Anderson profile image86
                GA Andersonposted 14 months ago in reply to this

                Now look at what you have done Don, jumped all the way to the end point without any of the foreplay that makes getting there so much fun.

                My contention is that beyond the obvious national crisis/national survival legislative decisions, and well above the level where the details of legislation are thrashed out, there are very few national legislative decisions, (within the same parameters we started with), that do not demand constituent voice consideration in the process.

                Social issues, (of course that includes the Gay and LGBT issues), are easy examples of my point. The determination of right or wrong, or whether something truly is in the nation's best interest, is mostly subjective. And to confidently discuss subjective positions you have to start with a basic agreement on just what it is you are discussing.

                I am anxious to add more in other responses, but the bottom line is that I think many of our controversial Representatives are being wrongly accused. Perhaps not all, but many. And that error leads to much more dissension than an understanding of honest representation would justify.

                GA

                1. Don W profile image84
                  Don Wposted 14 months ago in reply to this

                  Sorry, tried not to be too specific.

                  There seems to be agreement that the national interest comes first. In addition to that, you seem to be saying that for most issues it not easy to determine what is in the national interest without being subjective. And in those cases, a Representative represents the views of her Constituents. So if members of Congress are advocating actions that to some, seem like the actions of lunatics, then the fault lies with the constituents whose views those Representatives are dutifully representing. In other words, The People are responsible for what is happening in Congress, just as much as members of Congress, if not more.

                  If that's what you're saying, then i think you have a point. The root of the issue would seem to be the subjective nature of how people determine what's in the national interest. This is usually based on a worldview, so the issue is not that people don't care about the national interest, but that people sincerely think adhering to their worldview is in the national interest. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your perspective) not everyone shares the same worldview, so people are not necessarily able to reconcile the views advocated by a Representative on behalf of his constituents, with the national interest.

                  The result is a culture war. A struggle over which worldview gets to determine exactly what is in the national interest: traditional, conservative values on the one hand or progressive, liberal values on the other. Essentially it's a fight over who gets to decide what is right and wrong in society. Politics is the battleground, where increased partisanship serves as the drawing of battle lines.

                  While it's true that some members of Congress are caught in the middle of that to an extent, I think some members of Congress are also partly responsible for it. Some of the polarization is undoubtedly the result of genuine differences between worldviews, but I think some of it is artificially maintained for political gain. I don't know what that does to your OP. Hope it doesn't derail it too much in any way.

                  1. GA Anderson profile image86
                    GA Andersonposted 13 months ago in reply to this

                    I think your response might be an example of the point of my OP; that for many, (I am close to saying most), the responsibilities of a Representative change depending on whether a local or a national issue is being discussed. I don't see it that way. And I think that the trigger to give away your voice to that of the Representative is too easily tripped for too many folks that proclaim the government should serve the people instead of the other way around.

                    As your response started you were spot on to my intent, with the exception that I was trying to narrow the focus to a particular aspect, not the big picture, which seemed to be where your response lay. Also to my point, on your road from "root  of the issue," to the political battlefield conclusion, your focus went to  the national interest arena. Before you, (generic you of course) can get there, you have to decide what you think a Representative's primary responsibility is, because that determination will shape your perception of best national interest, and, the performance you expect from your Representative.

                    Of course a Representative has the responsibility to make legislative decisions that are in the nation's best interest, all of them have that same responsibility, yours and those 434, (might as stick with our House example), others. But your Representative isn't any of those others. He is the one you elected. He is the cog in the legislative body that is there to represent you and your notion of how our nation should be governed. Representing your voice is his primary responsibility as I see it.

                    Maybe a truck driver might be a fair analogy.  A company wants safety to be the focus of their company, including their big rig drivers. So they interview drivers with specific focus on their past safety record, and their projection of how seriously they take safety too.

                    All of their interviewees could drive a truck, and that was the job, but for the one selected by this safety conscience company, I say their driver's primary responsibility was to drive safely.

                    It is not the choice of the Representative that is of primary importance, all must make the choice based on the best interest of the whole, it is the process that Representative uses to get to that choice. That process is when it is most important that the voice of the people  to be heard.

                    GA

          2. GA Anderson profile image86
            GA Andersonposted 14 months ago in reply to this

            You are on the right track Don. You still jumped beyond my intentions, but you landed on your feet, because the best national interest follows.

            My point was that a Representative rides into office on the horse of his constituent's voice. He conducts the business of contributing to governing in the shoes of his constituent's voice. And when he has to decide on legislative actions that effect the whole instead of just his part, he must judge for the whole - but to give honest representation, that judgement must be colored by his constituent's voice. Representing his constituents is his primary responsibility, but that doesn't mean their voice trumps everything else.

            I am very surprised by many of the counter-responses. I wasn't expecting to hear so many validations of the "I know better than you..." expectation of their representatives from some. I think I may have mangled my approach or there wouldn't have been so much misunderstanding.

            My rambling was leading to the question of individual Representative expectations and the Representative in-body, (in legislative action), expectations. Which was going to run into controversial Representatives, or blocks of controversial Representatives actions, (*Teabaggers was only mentioned to convey the idea), etc. etc.

            Apparently I stumbled in that effort, but am still left with the wonder of the lack of qualifiers attached to those thoughts that Representatives must consider the good of the whole over the good of the few. On that I completely agree, but my agreement has qualifiers. That's why I view my Representative's primary responsibility to be representation.

            Some legislative actions are no-brainers that deal with strictly black or white issues, and some are in so many different shades of gray that only E.L. James could describe it. And of course some are serious stuff that requires serious consideration.

            That is the point where I want honest representation. I can allow that my Representative must use his own judgement to make a decision on action affecting the whole, and even if my voice can be of no consequence in the final decision, honest representation means that it was at least considered in the process. A qualifier I think is important to the expectations of constituents.


            GA

    4. rhamson profile image77
      rhamsonposted 14 months ago in reply to this

      Good question! With the shenanigans that go on in Congress with special interests and party politics can they afford to stand alone? Combine that with knowing or not knowing what their constituency want with any given issue and what stance is the correct one and representative of their charge it can get dicey. I really think the larger social issues that create so much controversy and waste so much time such as abortion, gay rights etc. should be put to rest with a referendum in the general elections. If the results collide with the Constitution it would at least give Congress a footing to act on and an argument for the Supreme Court to hash out and or a change in the Constitution to be amended in these areas.

      1. wilderness profile image97
        wildernessposted 14 months ago in reply to this

        Should the majority then have absolute control without regards to the rights, desires or needs of a minority?  (Thinking of slavery, government religion, gay rights, women's suffrage, etc.).  Anything that passes the constitution is OK, and if it doesn't, work around it or pretend that it does?

        1. rhamson profile image77
          rhamsonposted 14 months ago in reply to this

          "A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine."  Thomas Jefferson

          It is inherent in the scheme of things that the majority rules the minority. It is up to the minority to argue that their ideas are plausible and worthy of acceptance. It may take time but eventually the minority does win on many occasions.

          Of course anything passed by Congress must be put to the test of it's legality.

          1. GA Anderson profile image86
            GA Andersonposted 14 months ago in reply to this

            Of course anything passed by Congress must be put to the test of it's legality. "

            Spot on!

            GA

      2. GA Anderson profile image86
        GA Andersonposted 14 months ago in reply to this

        Those are certainly points of discussion... but you have to get in line behind Wilderness and Live to learn. You are way ahead of the discussion.

        GA

  2. Live to Learn profile image82
    Live to Learnposted 14 months ago

    That's a toughie. Because sometimes the rabble rousers can appear to be the majority of the electorate in a given area. How is one to always know what those who elected them desire? Do they have straw poll votes on every issue prior to voting in Congress? That would be difficult.

    So, yes I agree with you but I think we have to accept that the reality is an elected official can only reasonably be expected to vote their conscience and advocate what they believe to be fair and reasonable. If the electorate decides that isn't representative of their desires they can put someone else into office.

    1. GA Anderson profile image86
      GA Andersonposted 14 months ago in reply to this

      Hello again Live to Learn,

      "... I think we have to accept that the reality is an elected official can only reasonably be expected to vote their conscience and advocate what they believe to be fair and reasonable."

      And there is the meat of the issue.

      I started the OP with a much longer explanation of my points. 1) I think a representative of a group of people is obligated to represent the views of those people, (within the limits already noted), or resign. 2) I also think a very large group of folks think as your quote states.

      And I think your group of folks is looking at the concept wrong, which means your perspective is wrong. Which means your expectations are wrong.

      My thoughts are that the flexibility to substitute what they think is fair and reasonable belongs only to the president. And the clutter of such wonders as; "How can they really know what their electorate wants?" are just chaff.

      GA

      1. Live to Learn profile image82
        Live to Learnposted 14 months ago in reply to this

        I'm afraid you are quite wrong on this one. Which is why historically (in the United States, anyway) we haven't had politicians who mirror your sentiments. We couldn't, at first. How could a senator from Tennessee in the 1830's know what their constituents wanted on a given issue? How can a senator know, now, what the majority of her constituents would want? .How can they be sure that the constituent understand the issues and the ramifications of moving in one direction or another? My experience is that even the local politician can't get that assurance. I've seen boards of supervisors booted out of office because they were presented with changes in law by the state, researched their options heavily, moved in a direction which would ensure the county remained in compliance and lowered taxes for the next 50 years by their decisions; yet still were met with hatred and disgust.

        The media reveled in the discord. A rational person was vilified for suggesting everyone be calm and reasonable. The most ridiculous allegations were made. I remember the editor of the local paper approaching me and attempting to garner outrage by the fact that 'the company would be parking their trucks in our county.' The local televisions stations did as they always do. Found the least articulate person available to rant against the proceedings.


        Your perspective is dangerously wrong, therefore your expectations are wrong. One cannot expect an elected official to sway with the whims of popular opinion. They are, many times, driven by emotions, the flames of which are fanned by a biased media. Even locally. I feel much safer putting someone into office who I believe to be fair and reasonable, trusting their judgment to remain so and if I am disappointed in my expectations to vote them out of office.

        1. GA Anderson profile image86
          GA Andersonposted 14 months ago in reply to this

          Imagine that. You think I am wrong, and I think you are wrong. But it appears to me that you think I am wrong for the wrong reasons.

          Let's look.
          "... How could a senator from Tennessee in the 1830's know what their constituents wanted on a given issue?"

          At that time a Senator might not know whether their constituents wanted a pink or blue gun, but he would certainly know they wanted a gun. He might not know whether they wanted to support a particular option, but he would know whether they would chose a conservative or liberal path. The point... you are right, that senator might not know what they wanted on every given issue, but above the specifics of detailed choices, I think he would know from their group voice that helped elect him what they would want from a selection of options. He would certainly know how to represent his folks on slave issues. Don't you think so too?

          "How can a senator know, now, what the majority of her constituents would want?"

          Really? Cell phones, social media, polling, constituent letters and emails and tweets and facebook status' etc. Do you really doubt that today's Senators know what the majority of their folks want?

          "How can they be sure that the constituent understand the issues and the ramifications of moving in one direction or another?"

          Bottom line is they don't have to be sure. Their job as a Representative is to represent the electorate's views. He can either convince them they are wrong, or resign. If he does anything else, like doing what he thinks is best instead of what the folks he is supposed to represent want, he is giving dishonest representation.

          Following more of your examples would only be more illustrations, not better ones, so let me just point out that from the beginning I spoke of representing the voice of the electorate, which is easily known, not of carrying a satchel of detailed marching orders from their voters.  But even so, if their voters did elect them with a mandate that included detailed marching orders - then honest representation would require that they stand for those choices, convince the voters they are wrong, or resign.

          I have been trying to stay away from specific topical illustrations, but maybe one is needed to be clear in my point.

          If a House Representative from a devout Bible Belt district was persuaded by other Reps. to vote for a pro-abortion issue, do you think he would be giving his constituents honest representation?

          You and Wilderness are talking about the workings of a gear wheel, (the entire House of Representatives), while I am just talking about a cog of that wheel, (that cog's Representative)

          ps. regarding your "One cannot expect an elected official to sway with the whims of popular opinion. They are, many times, driven by emotions, the flames of which are fanned by a biased media." - that is not the voice of the people, that is the voice of the moment. A smart Representative knows the difference. But once again; even so,  if the voice of moment is the voice of the people, their job would still be to convince them they are wrong and change their mind, or resign.

          GA

          1. wilderness profile image97
            wildernessposted 14 months ago in reply to this

            "Do you really doubt that today's Senators know what the majority of their folks want?"

            Yet...the task of government is not to give the majority whatever they want and hang the minority.  Part of the task of government is to protect that minority regardless of majority wishes.

            Gay marriage - the handwriting has been on the wall for a long time - would it not have been in the best interests of everyone to give up the fight years ago?  In spite of those wishing to continue it?  Particularly considering that a minority was being oppressed and discriminated against by a majority for no good reason?

            1. GA Anderson profile image86
              GA Andersonposted 14 months ago in reply to this

              Ah Ha! There is the kink in the hose.
              "...Yet...the task of government is not to give the majority whatever they want and hang the minority."

              You are addressing the orchard, (the government), while I am addressing a single orange, (the Representative).

              You are talking about the end product, (finalized legislative action), while I am talking about the components of the product, (each Representative's contribution)

              No wonder you can't agree with me.

              But since you don't really understand why you are wrong, I will just substitute my superior judgement, edit your responses to indicate you do agree with me after all, (just trying to keep you from looking silly), and present it to the forum community for consideration. That would be OK wouldn't it? Since I do know what I am trying to say better than you know what I am trying to say.

              Doesn't that sound like the authority you say a Representative should be vested with?

              GA

          2. Live to Learn profile image82
            Live to Learnposted 14 months ago in reply to this

            I do not find any of your arguments in defense of your view to be compelling. Primarily because I do not think ‘the voice of the people’ is necessarily indicative of the will of each constituent. Experience has shown me that people can be exceptionally close minded and unkind if they perceive it to be the will of the crowd. Few are willing to buck the system, even when they disagree with it. And, if something appears to be indicative of the will of the people; given the opportunity for more detailed information on any given issue the ‘will of the people’ can, and does, change quite frequently.

            It would be nice for government to be transparent enough for all information on each issue to be readily available. It would be wonderful if each of us had the time to devote to hear all of that information, all of the discussions on that information, weigh the pros and cons of each course of action and hear all of the discussions on the pros and cons of each course of action. But we are, ourselves, diligently busy being cogs in the wheel far removed from much of it.

            To agree with you would be in favor of stagnation within our society, although I don’t see how your ideas could be implemented (considering how complex many issues are). You are advocating single issue voting. A litmus test for every question. A litmus test which would be difficult to develop since we are not all of one mind (thankfully).

            1. GA Anderson profile image86
              GA Andersonposted 14 months ago in reply to this

              To add a splash of color... (a nod to Quill)

              "Primarily because I do not think ‘the voice of the people’ is necessarily indicative of the will of each constituent......."

              "Few are willing to buck the system, even when they disagree with it....."

              "...given the opportunity for more detailed information on any given issue the ‘will of the people’ can, and does, change quite frequently."

              " You are advocating single issue voting...."


              This horse ain't dead, I just need a bigger whip.

              Picking the highlights of your reasoning;

              I was never speaking of the will of each constituent, I was speaking of the combined voice of the group being represented. Which of course will include varying specific wants and desires, but when compounded yields a "voice" of the group, not of an individual.

              I am absolutely not advocating specific "single issue" representation.

              Going back to the Anti-Abortion example;

              ... A represented group is strongly anti-abortion. That is their voice, but the mix of constituent wills is a hodgepodge of folks that vary from absolutely no abortions, no way, no how, to a tempered acceptance of abortion if the life of the mother is in danger, to the cake-and-eat-it crowd that say Ok, but only up to 20 weeks.

              Their Representative is selected, (by successful election), because he understands their voice and will deal with abortion issues with an anti-abortion perspective.

              Of the many possible reasons the electorate might vote for him, perhaps these might be a sampling of the most basic and important ones; he too is anti-abortion, he is smart, he will know how to deal with the details, he seems trustworthy, he has experience and power, (ie. has dealt with the issue before, can get the ear of decision makers), and he believes in the things they do.

              *I am not talking about single issue representation here, substitute any other issue name for abortion and apply the same reasoning. When combined, the abortion example represents the concept.

              So you hire/elect him to go to the legislative body to represent your interests and desires in the governing of everyone, not just your group. That is his primary job. To represent you in his contributions to the governing process.  Maybe this involves give and take, or some compromise. Maybe he can't find enough like minded folks to support a complete no-exception law or decision, but he could find enough to successfully support a 26-week limit.  So he supports it. He didn't cave-in for fear of bucking the crowd, he made a decision influenced by your interests to accomplish his secondary job of contributing to the governing process.

              He has given you honest representation, his primary responsibility, in the conduct of his, (for you Wilderness), "secondary" job of governing.

              But what if he immediately supported unrestricted abortion so that a decision was made on a decisive issue, and he could get on with other aspects of governing?  That would be dishonest representation. He did a good job of governing. His contribution keeps the wheels turning and things are getting done. His primary, (as you claim), job of deciding what is best to make it work is successful, his secondary, job of representing your interests is failed. If consideration of your interests is secondary, he is not a representative, he is an administrator.

              If that were not the case, then why even have representatives; just interview for the most proficient bureaucrats and administrators? If your interests are secondary to the workings of government, then why not just leave it all to good administrators?

              GA

              1. Live to Learn profile image82
                Live to Learnposted 14 months ago in reply to this

                So, we aren’t concerned about the will of the individuals; simply the loudest voices among them. And, that is what it boils down to. The combined voices aren’t really what anyone hears. They hear the loudest ones. That is not always representative of the majority.

                You’ve lumped too many in together on that one. I can assure you that the ‘only up to 20 weeks’ crowd and the ‘absolutely no abortions’ crowd have little in common, can find no grounds for agreement and will not be happy with the same type of representation. Your claim that a representative will deal abortion issues with an anti abortion perspective does nothing to represent the up to 20 week supporters. So, by your example they are left with representation that does not reflect their opinions.




                And you will face the same problems. Too many lumped together, in a hope to claim fair representation but what you will end up with is nothing more than an empty claim.


                Well, in that case, he has not represented the constituents who want a no exception law or decision. I don’t really see where you are going with this. Your examples have constituents all over the board lumped in together, as if they somehow share a common desire. I don’t see that. What I see is a group who have little in common and their representative is doing as I said they should do. Making decisions they believe are in the best interests of the most people; given the information and options they have.


                Well, I don’t know that this would constitute dishonest representation. Had the candidate made it clear prior to being elected that he believed in unrestricted abortion there would be no problem. Had the candidate run on a platform which included a commitment to support abortion limits and then did that I would probably call him a liar. And not vote for that candidate the next time around.

                I think you are missing the fact that there is a fluidity which must be maintained in order to ensure a free and healthy society. We function within the parameters of ‘the spirit’ of our constitution and a representative must be given the leeway of attempting to determine what best represents that spirit when struggling to determine law.  Administrators and bureaucrats are not tasked with creating the laws or pondering the spirit of those laws. They are tasked with the paperwork involved with enforcing our laws.  Laws change because we as a society grow and it is that spirit which drives the change. What you are advocating is that an elected official ignore the spirit of the law and, instead, attempt to harness the winds of popular opinion. Very, very dangerous endeavor.

                And, yes. My interests are secondary. I am a minority who voted with others to form a fleeting majority. As are you and everyone else.  The primary job of any elected official is to determine what is in the best interests of the greater majority, without infringing unnecessarily on the freedoms of any portion of the minority. If my representative used solely their perception of the interests of the majority within their constituency as a means to determine what decisions to make while in Washington I would not consider them a fair and honest representative and would probably not vote for them in the next election. They’d be, in my opinion, nothing better than a used car salesman.

                1. GA Anderson profile image86
                  GA Andersonposted 14 months ago in reply to this

                  Now you are just being obstinate. You offered all these counter reasons I am wrong, (a couple you had to resort to extremes to find, ie. "... simply the loudest voices among them..."), and then you sum it all up by agreeing with what I have been saying all along;

                  "Had the candidate made it clear prior to being elected that he believed in unrestricted abortion there would be no problem. Had the candidate run on a platform which included a commitment to support abortion limits and then did that I would probably call him a liar."

                  If you were anti-abortion, and he said he was not, would you have voted for him? If you would call him a liar, isn't that saying his actions were dishonest representation?

                  "...  If my representative used solely their perception of the interests of the majority within their constituency as a means to determine what decisions to make while in Washington I would not consider them a fair and honest representative and would probably not vote for them in the next election."


                  So you do think a Representative should consider the interests of the majority in order to give honest representation? And we are not just playing a game of semantics; stand vs. consider, right?



                  GA

                  1. Live to Learn profile image82
                    Live to Learnposted 14 months ago in reply to this

                    You are advocating that a representative cater to the whims of his particular electorate. I am saying that a representative has an obligation to the country, not just his/her electorate. The country represents the greater majority, not the majority within the area which votes for that particular representative.

                    I am not, in my opinion, being obstinate. I thought you were simply being obtuse but maybe you are simply refusing to admit that your argument is ill thought.

  3. wilderness profile image97
    wildernessposted 14 months ago

    GA, for once I cannot agree with you.  Some questions:

    Would you advocate that Kentucky politicians fight for the beliefs and wants of Kim Davis and her followers, promoting discrimination and violation of the constitution?  It's what their constituents want...

    Would you advocate that the US government accept/expand pork spending (remember the "bridge to nowhere" in Alaska?) because their constituents want something but don't want to pay for it?  It's what their constituents want...

    Citizens seldom take the time or effort to truly understand the results or reasons of political decisions (illegal alien amnesty, doubling minimum wage, expanding entitlement programs, abortions OR the elimination of abortions, etc.) - would you advocate politicians, that are expected and paid to research and understand such things, fight for what their more ignorant constituents want, knowing it will damage the country and their constituents?  It's what their constituents want...

    A great many people want their religious beliefs forced onto others - would you advocate politicians fight for that nation-wide?  It's what their constituents want...

    No, the primary duty of D.C. politicians is to govern the country, not fight for what the people that elected them want to see.  The needs of the country take priority, not the wants (or even the needs) of their constituents - those are secondary, albeit a strong second place.

    1. GA Anderson profile image86
      GA Andersonposted 14 months ago in reply to this

      Maybe you can't, or maybe you can. I think a look at your questions might show you the error of your ways... and how far off the road you are regarding the questions in the OP.

      When I spoke of Congressmen, it was specific to a level of representatives within a government structure, from Federal, through state, right on down to local levels. That level is the 2-house legislative body. With the House of Reps. there are a lot of them for each state, each representing smaller groups of folks. With the Senate - only two per state; who are intended to make sage decisions based on whatever consensus  comes out of the House.

      Although your examples are topical, they are miles down the road from the OP's question.

      Regarding the Kim Davis question, I say that if a group of folks with her views were large enough to warrant a Representative, or influence the election of one, then of course that Representative should stand for the folk's views.

      Now the question becomes whether that Representative can convince any other Representatives to come aboard. You know the process. But if whatever that Representative is standing for is totally unacceptable to the others, then he becomes a lonely, and semi-powerless voice of a group of folks, and the body moves in other directions from the stand he rightfully stood for. Even though the effort failed, the folks still had an honest representation. On the other hand, if what the folks wanted was just unacceptable to the Representative, then he has the choice of convincing his folks they are wrong, deceiving his electorate, or resigning. My response is that the representative should resign. Again, the folks get an honest representation.

      You appear to advocate, as did Live to Learn , that a Representative should only stand for issues that they think is in the best interests of the folks they are now pretending to represent. That there are boundaries, (lesser than those already noted in the OP), to their loyalty. That sounds a whole lot like the old "I know what's good for you better than you know what's good for you" line. Not one I ever expected to hear from you.

      The "Pork" question is just a different road leading to the same destination as the Davis question. If a "bridge to nowhere" is beneficial to a group of folks, and that group of folks can get representation - then once again, the answer is of course that Representative should stand for that "bridge to nowhere."  Then comes the legislative process I mentioned earlier; and as before the result depends on the support. or lack of support from other Representatives.  Honest representation, remember?

      The rest of your questions are all just different roads that still lead to the conceptual question of representation. They just ride in different cars.

      Take the Citizen's taking the time part, and the Representative's research and superior knowledge/understanding part...

      First the citizen's don't need to research anything. They only need to find enough like-minded voting souls to amass a group large enough to get representation to present what they want. Whether their representation fails or succeeds is determined by the process. And secondly, that better informed Representative has an obligation to convince his group they are wrong, or resign. Any other choice is deceptive. Once a representative substitutes his desires for his electorate's, then he has subjugated them.

      My point is that at different legislative levels there are different levels of Representative power. Lower level Representative bodies who are closest to the represented group determine their stand, (couldn't get enough fellow Reps to support Davis, oh well), and pass their legislation to the higher house. Which has a larger group of folks to represent - the total of all the Representatives. They won't be deciding on Kim Davis legislation, because it won't be an issue presented to them to consider.  The weaker and less supported an issue, the lower the legislative level it fails to pass. The really dumb doesn't make it out of the town council meeting, the larger the number of people affected, the higher the legislative body that will consider it.

      So take a second look, do you really disagree that honest representation of any issue is wrong? Wait, wait, that "honest" adjective pertains to the act of representation - not the Representative's character.

      I still believe that if an issue of a group of folks can pass the Constitution/legal tests, then their representative is obligated to stand for that issue - no matter how silly, or wrong that issue is in reality.

      Relative to your ending comment, "... the primary duty of D.C. politicians is to govern the country, not fight for what the people that elected them want to see." Holy cow! That is so far away from the point that I am almost speechless. But this is already too long, so I will let you reconsider and get back to you on that "who does the government work for" thought.

      GA

      1. wilderness profile image97
        wildernessposted 14 months ago in reply to this

        Perhaps I did misunderstand the OP.  I took it to mean Washington politicians, not the neighborhood school board. 

        I served on a HOA board during a particularly difficult period when the association assets were literally falling apart from lack of funding.  It just blew me apart when some of the board refused to increase the "taxes" because their constituents didn't want to pay any more.  Close the swimming pools, the playgrounds, let the fencing fall down and the roads deteriorate (but fix the pothole in front of MY house!).  Let the clubhouses leak and go to ruin, the tennis courts become unusable and limit security (except in MY part of the community).  All were comments from the "constituents", and all were very much illegal for a board member to do, but some of the "politicians" in that group insisted we do just that.

        Amazing, and is an indication of what it sounds like you are proposing as the primary duty of a politician - to fight for anything, legal or not, regardless of who is hurt or who pays, that the voters want.  I disagree. 

        Your constituents want an expensive luxury but don't want to pay for it - fine.  Go ahead and propose it, but your obligation to those voters ends there.  Don't vote for it, and don't trade political "favors" for it.  Your constituents want something unconstitutional, don't even propose it - it isn't in your job description to violate or help violate the constitution. 

        And that goes for every politician right down to the school board.  Your voters want to require religious training in public schools, don't even propose it as it is illegal to do so.  If they want a pink school, on the other hand, do your best to get it painted pink - it doesn't discriminate, it isn't illegal, and it harms no one.

        1. GA Anderson profile image86
          GA Andersonposted 14 months ago in reply to this

          And I think you are still misunderstanding my initial post. But I don't mean that negatively. I say that because your responses and examples are all irrelevant to my points, at this point. My questions concern the primary job of being a Representative of a group of people.

          Your responses may apply further along, but we aren't there yet. (I really wanted to mention folks like the Teabaggers, and specific folks like Ted Cruz) But when we do get there, I think you will find a bit more agreement..

          One misunderstanding is this;
          " an indication of what it sounds like you are proposing as the primary duty of a politician - to fight for anything, legal or not, regardless of who is hurt or who pays, that the voters want.  I disagree. "

          Because you, (and others), have jumped way past the important point of what a Representative's primary responsibility is, that what you think you heard is not what I said.

          For instance; all elected Representatives are politicians, but not all politicians are Representatives in a legislative body. And I did not say "legal or not." But yes, I did say the rest.

          With those corrections, I think what I said is different from what you heard;" I am proposing that a Representative's primary duty is to fight for whatever his constituents want - as long as it is Constitutional and legal. Or resign!"

          Maybe I can follow with your HOA board story. You mention board members. Of course they could have been just appointed, but let's say they were each chosen by a group of equal number HOA members, (2000?) - so they can be Representatives, and each group has equal voice.

          Your example declared the nays as dumb, irresponsible, or other such descriptors, because they would not do what you considered the right thing to do, (raise taxes).  So as a board member you also represented an equal number of HOA members, and your group thinks as you do.

          Just to pick a number, your HOA board has 6 members. Since it sounds like your angst indicates taxes were not raised, apparently a minimum of 4 board members, (Representatives), differed from your views.

          For spice, let's say that the 4 opposing members were opposed due to the HOA administrator's gross mismanagement and were dedicated to not supplying another dime for the scoundrels that squandered the money and allowed the HOA assets to reach their current state. Not quite the scandalous selfishness your explanation offered.

          So all board members, as Representatives, provide honest representation. They stand for what their group of 2000 wants. Even you. You spoke for your 2000. But either a 5-1 or 4-2 vote said you group did not represent the larger majority of HOA members - 8000, (or 10,000), to 2000, so no new taxes.

          Further let's say that the naysayers were right. Their opposition was based on facts and sound reasoning, not short-sighted selfishness. In which case, your group of folks were wrong, and should not have prevailed. Things turn out as they should.

          Now let's say that you, specifically you the Representative, did know of the mismanagement and shady dealings of the HOA administrators. Would your 2000 folks still want a tax increase if they knew what you knew? If the answer is no, then you did not give honest representation. You didn't resign.

          That is the concept of representation I am trying to make. That is also why I am sure you misunderstood the OP because you are including specifically excluded destinations.

          Of course there are real life examples of your implied scenario. You either bribed, colluded, or traded favors to convince enough Reps that raising taxes really was in the best interests of all HOA members. You now have the support of a majority of Reps and taxes were raised. And this example you promoted might also be an example of dishonest representation.

          The Reps that you swung were no longer representing their folks, now they were representing what they, (you really), thought was best for them. Regardless of what they said they wanted. Bingo! Dishonest Representation.

          That appears to be your view of what a Representative's job is. Now I am the one to disagree. If I vote to chose you as my Representative, then you damn well better represent my views - or resign!

          GA

          1. wilderness profile image97
            wildernessposted 14 months ago in reply to this

            Well, there is some agreement, but only to a point.

            The HOA - not only was the board the administrators, but were legally bound by the concept of fiduciary duty to maintain the association.  Yet some refused, and would have let if deteriorate even further in order to keep taxes level.  (No, taxes more than doubled for a few years to play catch-up). 

            And at that point I cannot agree.  Property values throughout would have fallen, not to mention lawsuits against individual board members that they could not win (according to legal counsel, we knew money was needed and were required to raise taxes).  Everyone in the neighborhood would have suffered either through falling values and/or loss of amenities we were supposed to provide.  Those board members following the perceived wishes of constituents, then, were deliberately harming the entire community and that is NOT their task. 

            First comes the community (country, state, county, city, neighborhood), then the wishes of individual members.

            1. GA Anderson profile image86
              GA Andersonposted 14 months ago in reply to this

              Well then it seems that both my assumptions, (they were only assumed for the discussion) were wrong, and you were wrong that your HOA example supported your contention that I am wrong.

              Here are a few reasons;

              1) My description included Constitutional and legal qualifiers. Your inclusion of required legal fiduciary responsibility made the folks stand illegal.

              2) Apparently the board members did not represent equal numbers, or else a majority of board members would result in representation of a majority of the HOA members.

              3) Also apparently, the board members did not give honest representation - because they did not resign, instead choosing to stand for an illegal demand.

              And following through to the falling property values and lawsuits... if that is the choice of the majority of the electorate, (and the road to that choice did not include illegal or unconstitutional roadblocks),  then that is their choice. Even if it is wrong. Their Representative isn't supposed to be their daddy. It is not the Rep.'s job to substitute their better judgement for that of their constituents. Their job is to either convince their electorate they are wrong, so they can stand for what they know is the correct and best choice - or resign. Anything else is dishonest representation. (Geesh, I sound like a broken record, but you folks, (Oh No! you got a "you folks" out of me, but I did stop short of tossing out  a "you people")) continue to insist on addressing the points beyond the level I am working on.

              Oh why? Why? Why, why, why? It sounds simple. A hammer's job is to hammer. A Representative's job is to represent. If a hammer had a mind and it hit the nail at an angle instead of straight on like you intended it to do, then it would be giving you some dishonest hammering. If a Representative substitutes his idea of what's best for you, instead of your idea of what's best for you - then you are getting some dishonest representing.

              GA

              1. wilderness profile image97
                wildernessposted 14 months ago in reply to this

                I think we will continue to disagree at the root.  A representatives job (politician at whatever level) is to govern a community, #1.  Second place is to represent the wishes of voters, and it IS second place and it must always be with the needs and wishes of the minority in mind.  The majority does NOT have carte-blanche (SP?) to do whatever they wish, not in this country - freedom does not mean that a majority gets to run rough shod over anyone in their way.

                That it has been done in the past (slavery, women's rights, gay marriage, etc.) is not an excuse to do it again.  Instead, it should serve as a reminder that the majority does NOT have absolute rule.

                1. GA Anderson profile image86
                  GA Andersonposted 14 months ago in reply to this

                  You forced me to it Wilderness. I wanted to peacefully walk, but since you insist on running, I am going to have to bring out the big guns.

                  " A representatives job (politician at whatever level) is to govern a community, #1.

                  Kathryn... Wilderness needs a couple definitions,  representative and govern.

                  When you vote for a governor you are voting for a leader, a captain, someone to lead the way and make the final decisions for all - that is their primary job. When you vote for a Representative, you are voting for a champion - someone to participate in the governing process on your behalf, that is their job. You probably don't vote for the most powerful and likely to succeed guy, you probably vote for the most powerful and likely to succeed guy that has your values.
                  *... as a small caveat; I started off saying a Representative's primary "responsibility," and through the twists of responding have used your phrase "primary job." For this discussion... same-same

                  I asked Live to Learn this question earlier;

                  "If that were not the case, then why even have representatives; just interview for the most proficient bureaucrats and administrators? If your interests are secondary to the workings of government, then why not just leave it all to good administrators? "

                  But this..."The majority does NOT have carte-blanche (SP?)

                  Hopefully you were speaking of citizen majority rule, because our discussion is about representatives, and ours is a representative Democracy, so yes, until proven illegal or unconstitutional, the Representative majority does have carte blanche if the majority is large enough.

                  GA

                  1. wilderness profile image97
                    wildernessposted 14 months ago in reply to this

                    "so yes, until proven illegal or unconstitutional, the Representative majority does have carte blanche if the majority is large enough."

                    It seems that this may well be the crux of the disagreement, for I highly disagree with the statement.  It gave rise, as I said, to slavery, legal gay bashing, lack of women's suffrage, prohibition and multiple instances like the Kim Davis fiasco.  ( http://www.advocate.com/politics/2015/1 … r-marriage )  These are all examples of majority rule without regard to rights, wishes or needs of minorities and is the antipathy of our system of government.  They are also good examples of why I maintain that the primary (job, responsibility) of an elected lawmaker is to govern, not simply satisfy the wants of the electorate.

 
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