We have all heard the rants, chants, and yells of Americans, protesters and non-protesters alike, demanding that members of Congress cast their vote
according to their Constituents opinion.
Likewise, we have seen many members of Congress go against their Constituents. The first bailout is a prime example of this.
Leads to the question, are members of Congress Trustees or Delegates? Trustee means that a certain member of Congress votes for what he or she thinks
is best for the Constituents. Delegate, on the other hand, casts his or her vote based on the voice of his/her constituents.
Political scientists and political philosophers have suggested that representatives can choose to behave as delegates or as trustees. A delegate
is a representative who casts votes that are consistent with the desires of the majority of the constituents he or she represents. A trustee, on the
other hand, is a representative who casts votes based on what he or she thinks is best. Some members blend both approaches, behaving as a delegate in
some instances and as a trustee in others.
I personally feel that my Representatives should be delegates. I feel that we put them in their position of authority and in return they should work
in the interest of we the voters. However, am I correct in my view?
While a delegate could take care of my area's interest, could that interest interfere with what is best for America as a whole? Which area has more
priority, America or my district?
Let's analyze what Rep. Massa said about a vote on Healthcare
MASSA: I will vote adamantly against the interests of my district if I actually think what I am doing is going to be helpful.
(inaudible participants' comments regarding the "interests" of the district statement from Mr. Massa)
MASSA: I will vote against their opinion if I actually believe it will help them.
When I first read this, I understood the following:
I will vote adamantly against the interests of my district.
I thought the guy was nuts for saying this. Political Suicide if you must.
But in reality, he didn't say that. He added a big IF.
If he believes it will help them. Is he wrong for acting as a trustee and doing what he thinks is best for his district?
Trustees and delegates, or combo of the two, are not the only way members of Congress vote. We also must consider what role the party line vote plays.
Many members vote the party line and use their constituent's concerns as justification for their vote.
Are the constituents really the reason for the vote or are the politicians merely picking the party's interest over voter's interest?
And where do the lobbyist fit in when a member of Congress cast his or her vote?
We all must admit that Members of Congress have a tough task of trying to iron out what's best for their district, State, and America on just about
every issue they vote on. However, it is a job they signed up for and they were well aware of the challenges from the beginning. What do you expect
from your Representatives?
Should your Representatives behave as trustees or delegates? Party Line?