Thursday, December 31, 2009

How should politicians vote?

Marion Barry is one of the most embarrassing people on the face of the planet.  The guy was mayor of Washington, D.C., for I-don't-know-how-long.  OK, the Wikipedia article says 1979-1991.  Then he was busted for cocaine use and possession.  Then he was, believe it or not, re-elected as mayor for another term.  He has pled guilty to tax evasion.  He has been guilty of numerous traffic offenses.  He was, not too long ago, accused of stalking his ex-girlfriend.  The list goes on.  I know, because I have lived in the D.C. area my entire life and I have therefore had to listen to the on-going adventures of this so-called Man of the People as he went from one idiocy to another.

But that is all irrelevant for this posting, as I often do.

Just in the last week or so the Washington, D.C., City Council voted to legalize same-sex marriages.  The politics and history behind the vote, as well as my own opinion, are also irrelevant. What is relevant is a question that I have, for some reason, pondered on occasion.  That question is:
How should elected politicians vote?  Should they vote with their "hearts"?  That is, how they feel the vote should go.  Or should they vote based on how they think their constituents feel about the issue?
This is a very basic question, which gets to the fundamentals of democracies.  I won't go into how much re-election issues come into play (meaning that politicians often vote with their tin cups open, rather than with their minds open) and how a very simple idea called term limits would do oh so much to help this country; perhaps another day.  I will ask how politicians should vote based simply on either their own views or those of their constituents.

This came to my attention because of the D.C. same-sex marriage vote.  Barry the Idiot voted against the bill in an 11-2 victory for the gay community.  The Washington Post said of Marion "The Embarrassment" Barry on his vote:
"Barry said he could not support the legislation because he thinks that a majority of his constituents oppose it."
Now I cannot verify this, but our local radio station also said that the Idiot Barry is for gay rights (and the Wikipedia article linked above says that he has flip-flopped on this issue, so who the hell really knows?).  Again, whether or not this is true is irrelevant.  But the question came to me again in big bold letters (OK, imaginary letters):
If the Barry Jackass is truly for this bill, yet his constituents are, as he says, against it, how should he vote?
Interesting possible dichotomy there, isn't it?  My first gut instinct was to say that our democracy and Gubment are such that they are so that every American citizen can vote, but since there is no way (yet) to enable everyone to vote on every bill, we elect people to represent large chunks of our society, geographically, and those people, our elected representatives, do the voting on our behalf (on our behalves?? wordicle??).  So this begs the question that if we have already voted for these representatives and we have basically said, "We trust you to do your best and use your judgment to vote on our behalves", should they?  Should that representative vote on their own conscience, since their constituents' trust has been placed in their hands and they are basically a proxy for them all?  Or should the representative, on every vote, contemplate how they think their constituents would want them to vote, and then vote in that way?

Interesting ...

Regardless, Marion Barry is still an asshole putz.

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