When a Congressman's conscience is in conflict with the strong opinion of his constituency, should he:
Total: 26 votes (4 blank votes)
- Vote according to his conscience.
- Vote according to the will of his constituents.
- Try to find a middle ground between the two.
- Abstain from voting on that bill.
More about : congress popular opinion
In some cases the representative should bow to the will of the electorate, but in other cases where the will of the electorate is not in the best interests of society, I think the representative should show leadership by explaining his position and voting accordingly.
Those are honest, straightforward answers that you or I would use as a solution. Personally, I'd go ahead and vote the way my conscience said to unless I got a huge backlash from my constituents. In that case, I would abstain from voting on the bill as there is no way I would vote for something I didn't agree with. Congressmen aren't quite so simple, though. A real Congressman would do something more like the following if they were opposed to a bill that their constituents wanted:
1. Look to see if the bill is likely to pass or not. If it is unlikely to pass, vote for it. You will get what you want, which is the bill failing. The constituents will get what they want, which is you voting for the bill. If the bill looks like it is going to pass by a wide margin, vote for it anyway. You weren't going to affect the bill's passage with your vote, but your vote for the bill will help you to get re-elected. Remember that in politics, getting re-elected is Job #1. If the bill looks like it could go either way, now is the time when you have to get sneaky to try to get it to fail while still appearing to support it (and pick the options below.) Note that most of them involve getting others to do things that help you such that it doesn't look to your constituents that you tried to sabotage the bill. Yes, politics is that sleazy.
2. Try to cut deals with Congressional buddies of yours that were going to vote for the bill to vote against it. This will allow you to vote for the bill and please your constituents while actually serving your conscience by getting the bill defeated.
3. Get a fellow Congressman or -woman to get an amendment or other text in the bill that would make the bill unpalatable to your constituents. An example would be putting an amendment repealing the oil drilling bans off the West Coast in a bill that makes incandescent light bulbs illegal. The environmentalists would love the original bill but would hate the amendment more than they would the original bill, so the original bill loses its original support and dies.
4. Get a fellow Congressman or -woman to put something that you actually want put into the bill so that you can in good conscience vote for it. An example would be if you are a conservative elected from a liberal district and your constituents want you to vote for the Senate version of H.R. 3200 but you can't stomach the thought, get a tort reform amendment put in the bill so you can better stomach a vote for the bill.
5. Try to convince your constituents that they do not really want to support the bill by airing political ads and holding public lectures where you try to sell your ideas to your constituents (aka "town hall meetings.")
I am sure there are a lot more ways to do this, but I am not a politician and don't know how deep the cesspool of political sleaze tactics is.
I have to add a caveat here. This only works well if everyone is honest. The people must honestly examine the politician, who must honestly present his views, and then honestly vote according to them while he is in office. In cases where a politician wishes to switch his major ideology mid-term (think Arlen Specter), there should be a special election to ensure that the people are honestly represented.
Very true that a majority may not be accurately represented when there's a lot of clamor going on. That's why I said a strong majority, i.e., the majority of those who strongly care enough to get active. I must admit, I have little sympathy for those who are apathetic until after a bill has been passed.
Agreed that too often people don't really know what's in a bill before praising or condemning it. And agreed that too much legislation is passed. I think they do it so that their pile of dozens of 1,000+ page bills will bury the Constitution to the point that most people ignore it!
If I was in office, although I am strongly against abortion, I would have to vote according to the majority of the area I represent, which in my area would be to vote pro-choice. Across the entire country, things are different. There is no majority on either side or this issue, so a national position, such as President or VP, would have to abstain. the country has not made up their minds, so the President or VP should not take a stand either way.
The guys in Washington have forgotten this. they need to be reminded, and that is the purpose of the Tea Party movement. It is not to endorse the Republican party. It is to oppose the spending we are seeing in Washington on both sides.
Personally, I have about a 30% approval rate for Republicans, but I have about a 10% approval rate for Democrats. So, I wind up voting Republican most of the time. I really just want their noses out of my business and their hands out of my wallet. They deserve neither. They have the right to neither. I'm not doing anything illegal, so they have no business looking through my e-mail (I bet you didn't know the NSA was doing that) and I don't make enough to be giving all willy-nilly to rich contractors, so they shouldn't be taking what little I have.
Representatives are the voice of a people, only in extremely rare situations should they vote against the will of their district/state.
Don't think it was me, but I can reply for whoever it was. Now before I get started please understand: I am a conservative, I am dedicated to the Constitution and the intent of the US Founders, and I am very upset at all that the current administration and Congress are doing. So please don't see me as the enemy!
That said, I believe that under our representative system, we elect people. Okay, a no-brainer. But we have to realize that people are all faced with different pressures, different situations, different upbringings, different philosophies, etc. It would be horrible to force someone to vote against his conscience. If you don't like the way your representative votes, you can get rid of him (I mean in a non-violent way, of course) next election cycle! That's the purpose of a republic as opposed to a pure and simple democracy: representatives decide what the laws will be, not the people directly (except for rare ballot measures).