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Unformatted text preview: Dynamic Representation: Does Government Respond to Public Opinion? 1 Recap 1.1 Where we’ve been: • What kinds of people run for Congress? • How do they do it? What is it like? • How do they arrange their careers when they get there? • Informal policy-making in expert subsystems • Formal policy-making on the Floor, what is it like? • How do they cope? • Now: stand back and look at the process from the macro level and ask “Do votes reflect public opinion?” (including President and Supreme Court as well) Responsiveness of Congress: What do we think we know? Popular Views : “House without Windows” Logic of Term Limits assumes non-responsiveness Professional Views : No research until recently, so mainly a matter of opinion Think about now. Imagine what you would do if you were a member of Congress (e.g. David Price) We know at the outset that how members vote is pretty strongly associated with the nature of their districts. 1 So, representation works? Maybe. The problem is that there are several rea- sons why that association might exist, and not all of them imply meaningful representation. Some Representation Scenarios 1. Members pay attention to what voters say and use that knowledge to shape their votes. This is representation in its strongest form. 2. Members don’t pay attention to voters and don’t even know public opinion, but voters select members who share their views in general, and thus that produces agreement between member and voter. This is still representation of a weaker form. It won’t work for issues which have not been part of a campaign and it won’t work if voters change their views, but it is still representation. 3. Neither members or voters pay any attention to the other, but because public opinion tends to be varied across geographical districts, the elec- tion process will still tend to select members whose views are typical. Imagine that some process wholly irrelevant to policy—given a choice between tall and short candidates, voters choose tall—this will still produce correlation between public opinion and member votes. This correlation is wholly the result of quasi-random sampling of members from districts; it is not representation in any meaningful sense. We can now state the problem of the correlational evidence: It doesn’t allow us to untangle these possibilities to see whether or not the correlation implies meaningful representation. To resolve the issue, think about representation over time. Ask the question, “If public opinion changes, does Congress respond?” If we get a positive answer to this question, then we have observed meaningful representation in its strongest form. Call this dynamic representation, where dynamic means that the process works itself out over time....
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- Fall '07
- Government, Supreme Court of the United States, President of the United States, United States Congress, United States House of Representatives