This letter is a response to Mrs. Lee Sides’ letter, RDR July 19, about Steve Pearce not representing those who elected him. Mr. Pearce voted the way he did on food stamps for one of three reasons which will be addressed later in this letter. You readers can decide which of the three motivated his vote.
I think we should look at what the word “represent” means. If an issue comes up to be voted on and 80 percent of an elected official’s constituency feels one way and the official feels differently personally, how should the official vote? I think he or she should vote the way the 80 percent feel, not how he or she feels personally. This rarely happens.
We elect people and send them to Washington and Santa Fe to represent us, not to vote the party line and pursue a personal agenda. The elected people seem to understand this while they are campaigning, but between home and Santa Fe they seem to forget both why they were elected and who elected them and the same for those going to Washington, D.C.
I believe there are three factors that determine how an elected official votes. The first, and by far the most powerful, is party politics and political pressure. The second most important is personal beliefs and convictions. The third, and least important, factor is the wishes and beliefs of his constituency.
If the elected official really did represent his constituency, the factors would be the same, but the order would be reversed.
A perfect example of this disconnect is what happened recently in the U.S. Senate when it voted down legislation that would make this happen.
The U.S. Congress’ favorability rating is running between 10 and 15 percent, but in every election, almost 85 percent of incumbents are re-elected.
Clearly most elected officials are out of step with the people, but why should they change when they know they will be re-elected regardless of their performance and voting record?
I agree with Mrs. Sides. The only way to change the status quo is to elect people who will represent us and vote them out if they don’t. With so much social media available, it is very easy to check a congressman’s voting record. This is exactly what we should do and vote them out if we do not approve of their voting record.
As long as our congressmen, and women, are not called out when they break faith with their constituents, they will continue to do so.
This is not a quick or easy solution, but I believe it is the only solution.
Randle S. Easley