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Representation (a Political Issue)


As citizens in a democratic society, we should be able to get involved in the workings of our government, to vote to get laws passed and to get government institutions created that will protect us and promote our wellbeing. Then, if we are not doing any undue harm, we should be able to have our lives and our interests protected by our government and we should be allowed to try to live our own lives the way we want.

However, we cannot all get directly involved in every aspect of our government, since it would take too much of our time and would simply be too complicated to try to accommodate all of us. Therefore, we must elect individuals who we will authorize to represent us honestly as our delegates or agents in the government.

For this to work, we need to have every expectation that our Representatives will act in our best interest. The problem is that our Representatives do not always represent all of us. Instead, they often only represent their political party, special interests or themselves.

One of the biggest problems with our current representation is that it takes a lot of money for someone to get elected to political office. Therefore, our Representatives must spend a lot of time, if not most of their time, doing fund raising and the things that help them raise funds. This means spending a lot of time with individuals and groups that have the money to help fund their campaigns, while taking time away from the real work that they were elected to do and leaving them with little time to listen to us. In addition, this need for money often leads to corruption.

The solutions to most of the problems with electing our representatives can be found in the previous sections. These solutions include eliminating the Political Parties and instituting a New Electoral Process. Once these are done, our Representatives will have more time to concentrate on the job they were elected to do. That is, they will have time to run our government for us, to listen to us and to keep us informed as to what our government is doing.


Many of our Representatives need staff to help with the administrative aspects of their jobs. In general, the more constituents a Representative has, the more staff he or she will need. Currently, whenever the new representative is from a different political party than the previous representative, a whole new staff is usually brought in. This leads to a loss of most or all the knowledge and experience that the previous staff had accumulated.

To maintain persistence of knowledge, most of the staff should remain when a new Representative takes over. Without political parties, there should not be a problem of inheriting partisan staff members. Of course, Representatives should be allowed to choose their closest advisors and administrative assistants, but most of the staff should stay in place to help the new Representative to acclimate to his or her new position. Over time, there would be the normal turnover of personnel, just as it would occur in any office or business.

The one potential problem with having the same staff for any length of time is that the staff could start to accumulate a lot of power by being able to control access to the Representative. All the Representative’s constituents should have equal access. Therefore, procedures will need to be in place to prevent the Representative’s staff from exerting too much control over who is allowed to make an appointment. Of course, controls would also need to be in place to prevent certain constituents from wasting or monopolizing a Representative’s time.


One very important aspect of a Representative’s job should be to communicate with his or her constituents to keep them informed about what is going on in our government. Without the need for fundraising, our Representatives would have much more time available to devote towards running the government, towards representing us, and towards communicating with us.

The first thing to do is to establish a web site or to enhance an existing web site for each local, state or national government that would provide a convenient place to get any information about what is going on in the government. This information should also be available at the government offices. There should be links to all past and present bills and other legislative actions. There should be the complete text of each bill. For past bills, there would be a complete voting record. For present bills, there would be information on when they would be coming up for a vote.

Except for some emergency actions, there should be a requirement that the final wording of all bills would need to be posted with enough lead time so that interested parties could review them and comment on them before a vote is taken. Each Representative would also have a site where they would post their comments on each bill and give us his or her reasons for voting for or against the bill and where we, their constituents, could post our reactions.

In addition, Representatives’ contact information and schedules would be available at their offices and on their public web sites. Part of a Representative’s schedule should be devoted to more regularly scheduled town hall style meetings and office hours for talking to constituents. Any constituent could attend one of these town hall meetings or could schedule time during office hours, on a first come first serve basis with special emphasis on those constituents with whom he or she would be talking for the first time.

These face-to-face meetings would allow a Representative to explain what our government was doing and why. At these meetings, one very important part of a Representative’s job would be to talk with us, his or her constituents, about the issues and to exchange ideas on what to do in the future. This should mean that our Representative would listen to us and our ideas. Of course, our ideas would need to help all of us and not just some of us, since it is the job of our Representative to represent the best interests of all of us.

The Majority or Everyone

When voting in a democracy, the majority is expected to decide. The person with the most votes will get elected to office. A bill that gets more votes for it than against it will get passed into law. In general, this is better than someone or some small group making the decisions for all of us.

In the case of an election, the majority may be the best we can do, since we need to elect someone and there will always be differences of opinion as to who would do a better job. However, we do need to do all we can to ensure that the person who will best represent all of us is the one who is elected.

On the other hand, majority rule is just not the best way to handle things in many cases. Just think about the next time we are in a lunchtime meeting and the group sends out for pizza. Should everyone have to get vegetarian or pepperoni just because that is what the majority wants? No, we want a selection so that we all can get something that we like.

Another obvious example is religion. In the United States, most of the population is Christian. If we were to vote for a national religion, then Christianity would most likely get most of the votes. (Although, would that be Protestant, Evangelical, Catholic, or something else?) Fortunately, in the United States, this should never happen, because we believe in the freedom of religion. We think it is wrong, even for the majority, to dictate what we believe and how we worship. Unfortunately, in some other countries, this is not always the case, and some in our own country are even trying to change that here.

Currently, there are many laws and regulations that force us to live our lives in a way that is against our beliefs. In some cases, this is good and necessary. For instance, we cannot condone individuals living their lives as thieves or con artists, because they would end up unduly hurting others. On the other hand, there are many things that many of us may not like other individuals doing but that would not really harm us if others did those things. Just because someone does something that goes against our beliefs does not mean it does us any real direct or indirect harm, no matter how strongly we disapprove of what that someone else is doing.

Therefore, our Representatives need to remember that we are not all the same and that what is best for the majority may not be best for everyone. Our Representatives must ensure that our laws and regulations give us the option, when it does not unduly harm others, to live our lives with the liberty to pursue our happiness according to our beliefs. An important thing to remember is that none of us is always in the majority on every issue, so if we do not want others to dictate our lifestyles when we are in the minority, then we should not dictate their lifestyles when we are in the majority.


Even with the better representation that would come from changing our electoral process and improving communication, our Representatives still may not always do what we want or what is best for everyone. Of course, we would still have the option of electing a new representative, but elections may be years off and even a recall may take a significant amount of time. Therefore, elections and recalls might not solve the immediate problem of our Representative voting for an unpopular law, not voting for a popular one or not introducing a bill that we want.

What we need is a process to allow us to override our Representative’s vote. Except for bills that were needed to cover some emergency or that passed by some super majority, all votes for or against a bill should remain tentative for some time. This time would be long enough for us to override our Representative’s vote, if needed. However, before a vote could be overridden, there would need to be a process for us to show why overriding the vote would be better than letting the Representative's vote stand. Maybe a petition would need to be made to a special appeals court.

For instance, if our override effort was approved and enough signatures could be obtained within some specified time frame, a special vote could be scheduled to determine how our Representative should have voted. To prevent misuse of this process, this vote might require some super majority (maybe 60%) to override our Representative’s vote. Once it was determined that there would be no overrides, that all overrides had been made or that any outstanding override attempts would not change the outcome, the bill would receive its final status.

Term Limits

A lot of individuals and groups have proposed term limits to get better representatives. The idea behind this is to limit how much damage representatives can do when they stay in their elected office too long. However, the damage should usually only come after our representatives have been corrupted by power and money, which could come before taking office, after many years or decades in office, or never. Given that it would be hard, if not impossible, to predict when or even if a representative would be corrupted by power and money, we have no good way of determining what term limits might be effective, if at all.

If we set a relatively short-term limit, then we might reduce the time during which our representatives might become corrupted. However, there may be more incentive for them to take advantage of the power and money, simply because they have such a limited amount of time to do so. If we set a relatively long-term limit, then we might simply defeat any benefit of having a term limit.

Another consequence of term limits is the loss of knowledge and experience. Unlike with many other professions like doctor, dentist, lawyer, accountant, mechanic and teacher, there is no requirement for our representatives to have a political science or other degree. Although some representatives may have taken political science classes or may have a political science or some other degree, most representatives will still need to learn on the job. Then, it may take years for someone to learn how to be an effective representative. With term limits, representatives may not have enough time to learn or to use what they have learned.

In addition, term limits would only prevent a representative from staying in the same elected office for more than some period. Our representatives, like individuals in many other professions, may follow a carrier path. That is, they gain knowledge and experience in some entry level position, and then move on to more senior level positions. For instance, a representative might start out on a school board or city council, move on to state representative or mayor, move on to state senator or governor, move on to U.S. representative or senator, and then move on to president.

In the case of our U.S. representatives and senators, there is another issue with term limits. First off, it seems very unlikely that the U.S. Congress would ever set term limits on itself. Therefore, any term limits would need to be set by each state. However, I do not see that as likely either. If a state set term limits on its U.S. representatives and senators, it would be like shooting itself in the foot. The longer a U.S. representative or senator stays in office, the more knowledge, experience and power he or she will gain. By setting term limits, the state would lose the power and influence it would get from those longer serving U.S. representatives and senators.

Instead of setting term limits, a much better approach would be to implement the changes suggested in the previous section on a New Electoral Process. This way, we would get better representatives who should not be tempted as much by money and power and would be better informed about the job and the issues. In addition, our representatives would be kept on a shorter leash, so we would be better able to keep a watch on what our representatives were doing.

On the other hand, there are some cases where there would be some benefits to having term limits. These would be in cases where our representatives are in executive positions where they would have a lot more power than in legislative or other positions. These executive positions would include such offices as mayor, governor and president. If we require these executive office holders to have had experience in some other relevant elected office, then setting something like a two-term limit should work and be appropriate.


Before the end of a Representative’s term of office, the electoral Boards would begin the process of taking applications for the next election. When this process starts would be determined by how long it is reasonably expected to get all the candidate applications, to do all the candidate screenings and to conduct useful campaigning, and no longer. By keeping the process restricted to an appropriately narrow window of time, it would cause the least disruption to the Representative’s time on the job, but also give the public time to get to know all the candidates and to help keep the public’s interest until Election Day.

During the campaigning, the current Representative, who was up for reelection, would be treated like any other candidate. He or she would go to the same gatherings as all the other candidates and get the same advertising rights. If the Representative still needed to conduct a town hall meeting to discuss current legislative issues, then all the other candidates should be invited to participate as well.

Next Section

Legislative Issues - Introduction to the Legislative Issues affecting Our Future Path.

Last Updated:
Saturday, December 30, 2023
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