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Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014

Voting for the voters: Always best?

Posted Friday, January 18, 2008, at 9:16 AM

From a guest column in the T-G last week:

"I am troubled over what a school board member recently told me. I was told that this person votes their conscience, not what constituents want, and if it is wrong then their constituents could vote them out at the next election."

Let's separate the question itself from the specific school issue.

How elected (or appointed) officials should vote in general, on anything, from federal to local levels, is worth discussion.

Should officials ALWAYS, as representatives of the people, back what they want? But what if the voters' desires are just plain wrong -- or if the official knows something popular won't work?

Contrast Bill Clinton's allegedly poll-driven presidency vs. George W. Bush's claim that his reign isn't influenced by polls.

"I really don't care what polls and focus groups say," Bush said a few years ago. "What I care about is doing what I think is right." Whether you agree with him or not, at least he has guts.

If office-holders vote only what constituents want in all cases, no matter what -- and if conscience is eliminated from the decision-making process -- then we may as well eliminate legislative bodies and hold daily or weekly elections via the Internet on every issue.

I'd be the first to agree that someone elected by the people to represent the people should do just that. But, in some cases, it may be necessary to make decisions based on what's best for the people instead of what's demanded by the people.


Comments
Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

do we not elect some one because we think that person will do a good job representing us, (the people). Atleast that is how I make the choice for whom I vote for. But I have been known to be wrong before.

-- Posted by Bill H on Fri, Jan 18, 2008, at 11:21 AM

On important issues, I could see an elected official going against the will of the people. The "majority" has been known to be wrong many times in the past. A simple "majority rule" government would be just as dangerous as a dictatorship. The government should protect our individual rights no matter how many people disagree with us.

But on an issue such as the local school dress code, I don't think it is important enough to go against the will of the people in our community. It's not like a disaster is going to happen if they don't pass it.

-- Posted by Richard on Fri, Jan 18, 2008, at 2:24 PM

Shouldn't we have been asked if we wanted to send refugees $43 billion dollars last year? What about the $52 billion to non-profits to doormat the refugees on our community without our permission? It seems we are in the dark about the money we are paying via taxes.

Shouldn't we know? Why are our delegates not posting the information on their websites about upcoming meetings and appointments regarding laws, policies and amendments? Do we not have a right to know? Why do we need to keep looking in the nooks and crannies to get any answers to questions regarding anything?

-- Posted by Evil Monkey on Fri, Jan 18, 2008, at 3:31 PM

There needs to be a reality-based mutual trust.

Officials should believe enough in their constituents to discuss real issues,give them pertinent information and listen to their views,their requests and responses.

The voters need to choose people who are honest,intelligent,hardworking and courageous.

They need to be certain that these individuals and those they appoint will serve the community in an efficient and ethical manner.

If either side dismisses the other as unworthy to determine the fate of the community,then the whole town suffers.

The voters have the most responsibility because they put folks in office.

Those they elect have a responsibility to give those they serve all the power they can handle-and insist they they grow to meet the challenge.

If we want to influence our government,we need to know our representatives,know the issues,show up at meetings,make our opinions known and even take on responsible positions ourselves.

If we want to be the ones that guide and implement policies,we need to build the kind of informed and active community that will be our partners and not just our employers or our pawns.

We can't just have faith in one another.

We have to have trust that is deserved and well-founded.

If that doesn't exist,then we have an obligation to make that happen before we start working on any other projects.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Sun, Jan 20, 2008, at 3:31 PM


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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.