chapter6review - Chapter 6: Congress The Nature and Style...

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Chapter 6: Congress The Nature and Style of Representation In over 200 years, the role of the legislature has remained central. Policy is made in the Congress and a viable means of changing government is appealing to Congress or any other legislature. In the nature and style or representation, a republic is a democracy in which representatives speak and act on behalf of the citizens, and this concept implies a direct extension of popular will. Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense that legislators must “act in the same manner as the whole body would act, were they present. The above perspective has been called the delegate model of representation in which the legislator does his or her best to discern the will of the people and then acts accordingly. The trustee model of representation was the outlook favored by most of the delegates at the Constitutional Convention and holds that the legislator should consider the will of the people but then should do what he or she thinks is best for the nation as a whole and in the long term. Edmond Burke reasoned that legislators should focus their efforts on protecting the “general whole” rather than simply obeying the wishes of local interests. Burke also believed that legislators should think of the entire nation and of future generations and not just the particular district here and now. In the early years of the republic, most legislators held tight to a trustee perspective. Many observers suggest that several changes in the past few decades have made the delegate model more popular today. The number of people wishing to be a legislator has increased in recent decades, and since losing an election short-circuits plans, they tend to appeal more to the public. “Public opinion” is much easier to discern these days given the accuracy and frequency of the polls. A growing number of citizens seem concerned Congress isn’t listening to them which makes the trustee model a dangerous position. This is not to say there isn’t middle ground perspectives as well. The politico model of representation holds that legislators are free to follow their own judgment on matters where the public remains silent. In other words, legislators should be trustees and vote how they see fit until the public gets involved, at which pointy they return to delegate mode. Another perspective is called the conscience model of representation which we might refer to as the “pillow test”, meaning that if an issue keeps a representative up at night, he will vote the other way. A representational style is a legislature’s priories and often varies among each legislator. Constituent service , also called casework makes up a great deal of what legislators do on a daily basis. Many analysts have argued that an important part of a legislator's job is to speak on behalf of the groups they belong to – especially their demographic group. Some observers have argued that symbolic speech , the notion that a group of citizens is best represented by a legislator who
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This note was uploaded on 10/18/2008 for the course POL 1013.007 taught by Professor Calder during the Fall '08 term at The University of Texas at San Antonio- San Antonio.

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chapter6review - Chapter 6: Congress The Nature and Style...

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