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american government essay 2

american government essay 2 - Stanislav Drapkin American...

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Stanislav Drapkin American Government TV13 The Concept of Representation Representation is by far the most important aspect of our government. Elected officials exist for no reason other than the sake of the people they represent. The selection of these key people is the single most important aspect of a liberal society. This essay explores the contrast between descriptive and substantive representation, and the contrast between the trustee and delegate conceptions. The view that descriptive representation is superior is expressed by Melancton Smith in his argument of 1788, he also suggests that the size of the house is too small and will in effect be comprised of the society elite. The federalists published papers 35 and 57 responding to the arguments presented by Smith. In the latter part of the essay Edmund Burke’s view of the trustee conception is evaluated, and is compared to that of the delegate conception that the federalists and Smith held. In order to understand the arguments presented by Smith we must first understand the difference between the two contrasting views on representation. Descriptive representation is the notion that the demographic characteristics of representative candidates should match those of their constituents. We witness this ideal in Smiths argument. He believed that the representative should “resemble those they represent” (Smith 1788). An example of such an ideal would be a district consisting of a particular minority group that elects a representative that fits the description of the minority. Substantive representation, on the other hand, is the concept that an elected official would be elected to office because of the ideals and prerogatives that they stand behind, as well as, their past experience and actions. The representatives would likely be advocating for particular groups, and may not always share the same demographic profile as those groups. Melancton Smith explains that the representative for any people can only be those which can truly understand the needs of their constituents. He clarifies that only people who share similar backgrounds and other common bonds will more likely understand the needs and wants of the people whom they would represent. He depicts them such that “they should be a true picture of 1
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the people; possess the knowledge of their circumstance and their wants; sympathize in all their distresses, and be disposed to seek their true interests.”(Smith, 1788) Smith explains that “passions and prejudices govern[s] all men” (Smith 1788) using this assessment he directs that these temptations among the middle class would be more frugal. He
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