Political Science

Political Science - Representation 2009-02-17...

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Representation 16:28 Representation: what is representation? Who is represented? Behaviors induced by the reelection imperative, the results of the reelection imperative. What is Representation? Representative democracy is not direct democracy Missing: direct involvement (referenda, ballot measure, etc.) Lawmakers act on behalf of their constituents. But what does this mean? o The constitution doesn’t really specify at all how representation works. The constitution says NOTHING about this. (People can make decisions without consulting the constituents, don’t need feedback, etc.) Asking somebody to translate our preferences into policies. Views of Representation—a principal-agent relationship Trustee: discretion given to agent o Lawmaker makes decision for self, not necessarily concerned with the preferences of electorate. Trusted to exercise good judgment, and should be able to inform and lead public opinion. Little need for monitoring by principal (constituents). Delegate: much more of a monitoring problem o Lawmaker follows the wishes of the constituents—an advocate. Little room for independent (informed?) decision making, need to decipher district opinion. Moral hazard—are lawmakers truly representing district preferences? Or some mix Representative Function and the Reelection Goal Congress was designed to be a locus of representation where varying individual viewpoints as well as private and community interests could be voiced. Members of congress balance efforts to represent individuals, groups, and their districts (and, in the case of senators, their states). Richard Fenno’s nested constituencies: Largest to smallest o Geographic, reelection, primary, personal. Possible Constituencies Congressional district or state
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Subgroup within district (partisan, economic, Fenno’s sub-constituencies, etc.) Group that cuts across districts (economic, social, ethnic, etc.) Madison referred to this in Federalist #10. Congress should “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 and partial considerations.” Re-election and representation As a practical matter, it’s direct and frequent elections (particularly in the House) that make members of Congress perform this representative function. Lawmakers want to be reelected (self-interested), and attention to constituent needs maximizes reelection prospects. Reelection Imperative Reelection is seen as the necessary goal in order to achieve any other goal. Lawmakers, therefore, behave in ways to maximize the likelihood reelection
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This note was uploaded on 03/08/2009 for the course PSCI 1101 taught by Professor Juenke,eri during the Spring '07 term at Colorado.

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Political Science - Representation 2009-02-17...

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