Thursday, November 14, 2013

In a Difficult Spot

Each day on my drive to and from work I listen to the news on the radio. It catches me up with events of the day and in the evening helps me shift my mind from work to other topics. Yesterday a lengthy story discussed the process of laws in Congress. In particular they focused on legislation that came out of party ideology that has no real chance of passing. Everyone knows it when it is introduced; it provides a vehicle for a message.

One phrase kept coming up that troubled me. Several of the bills discussed were brought up to put politicians in the other party “in a difficult spot” of voting against the bill. I could not help but ask the question: if it puts them in such a difficult spot, then maybe the bill is worth considering and voting for. Junk legislation would not put anyone in a difficult position.

The bills mentioned all address important issues facing the nation and carry broad public support, but because one party or the other has seized the issue, the other refuses to consider it.

These politicians who only follow the party line deserve to be put in a difficult spot - they deserve to be put in the unemployment line. While reciting quotes from their favorite founding father, they profane the system they idealize. Contrary to popular belief, we are not a democracy; we are a representative democracy. We elect representatives to make the decisions. It was and is expected that they as the leaders have access to more information than the citizens in their district. Using the information, they were expected to vote in the way that best supported their constituents.

Instead, the expectation now is that everyone vote the party line. To actually vote independently considering your district labels one unreliable and reduces chances at influential appointments and even more importantly at campaign contributions while increasing the chance that your diminished campaign funds will be spent in a primary instead of the general election as had been anticipated.

The last decade with the explosion of social media has made far more knowledge available to everyone almost instantaneously. Constituents have almost constant access to elected officials. There is no reason those politicians who find themselves in the difficult spot should not know how difficult it could be for them if they vote against the interests of the constituents. Until the constituents start making these show votes have consequences on their officials, that is all these votes will be.
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