Monday, August 17, 2009

Just What Is It We Elect?

I was browsing through the headlines today and came across one in the Washington Times that caught my eye. Rep. Massa: I will vote against the interests of my district. Just what is it we get when we elect a Representative?

Eric Massa, D-NY, supports a single payer health care bill. He supports it so strongly that he's willing to vote against the wishes of his district. "I will vote adamantly against the interests of my district if I actually think what I am doing is going to be helpful."

That got me thinking about where the line should be drawn. We live in a republic and elect representatives to vote our interests. When, or should, personal convictions deviate from that charge? It presents an interesting philosophical question.

To vote against one's constituents' wishes is risky at best. Done often enough one could find oneself quickly out of office! On the other hand, if a certain constituency goes against the grain of the rest of the country and the representative agrees with that majority should he still vote as his constituents wish?

When you come right down to it, politics is a very personal business for we voters. Often Hub and I are on different sides of an issue but we realize the majority rules whether or not we agree. Such is the message our Representatives take with them to Washington; what the majority of those they represent want. Should we expect that is how they will vote?

So where is that line between personal opinion and public opinion and how much flexibility should Representatives be allowed? Sure, we can always vote them out of office but while they are in office their votes are the one that count.

The reason town hall meetings are held, forget the contentiousness of the ones going on now, is for our Representatives to learn first hand what the people are thinking. The people usually have good questions if the legislation or concept is fuzzy. It's important for the Representatives to have read that legislation in order to answer those questions. We know that most do not unless forced, as is also the case right now.

If they do not, then they aren't representing their constituents at all. They are representing the power structure of their party who dictates what they must do to either rise in stature within the party or get the necessary party support for re-election.

Suddenly, we constituents are on the outside looking in. We should really look more to their knowledge base of the issues than the pork they bring home if we really want true representation in our own government. If we don't, they will always be in and we are the ones who will be out!

1 comment:

Linda said...

I've thought about this a lot but have never found the answer.