Voting against the wishes of the people

Freshman Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) restated his support for a single-payer health care bill at the annual Net Roots Nation gathering in Pittsburgh last weekend, admitting he takes great risk in doing so amidst “one of the most right-winged Republican districts in the country.”

His position on a single-payer system may not be as concerning to many of his “right-winged” constituents as his position on his role as an elected official.

I will vote adamantly against the interests of my district if I actually think what I am doing is going to be helpful,” Massa said. “I will vote against their opinion if I actually believe it will help them.”

However, his district may not need to worry too much if his recent position on the cap-and-trade bill is any indication of his future decisions to reflect or reject the majority. According to Politico.com, “Massa voted against the cap-and-trade bill, telling Politico that calls to his office split 80-20 against it.”

Nevertheless, Massa”s “mouth speaks from that which fills his heart” (Luke 6:45). The representative's heart reflects a proud belief that he knows more than the people about what is helpful to his district. Therefore, he believes his judgment is more valid than the interests and opinions of those he represents. Is that a fair belief to hold? Or is he in need of a heart exam?

“A United States Representative is supposed to be the common person's voice in the United States government,” according to WikiAnswers.com. But, that doesn't mean he has to be. In the United States, a representative is chosen by a majority vote after the people have the opportunity to learn the views of all candidates. The assumption is made, therefore, that the elected official will in most cases vote in harmony with the majority of his district, thus reflecting the “common person's voice.”

But that is not a given, nor a requirement. If it were, then each representative would have to take an official poll of the people's views on every issue requiring his vote, so that he could ensure he was voting with the majority. Now, if a representative wants to keep his job, he will keep his finger on the pulse of his constituents and act accordingly. But after election, this choice is really up to him.

The pressure of being in leadership is enormous. Leaders, whether elected, appointed or born into position, must weigh the wishes of the people against what's best for the people. Parents don't always succumb to their children's wishes, but most act in the children's best interest. However, U.S. representatives are not our parents, nor our superiors. They are our equals, and we have granted them power to take action on our behalf. We have entrusted them with this authority. We have granted them with this leadership. This is what it means to have a republic.

A child doesn't choose and can't change their parent. But a citizen does choose and can change their representative.

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