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Formerly Apostate

I don't often say this, but you are wrong, my friend. This isn't about representative democracy or about principles. It's political maneuvering to show us all who is boss.

Read Digby. She explains it better.

Victoria

What confuses me is comparing the votes with the map of states with the largest numbers of uninsured...Yes, red states. What's going on in those states that they elect reps who are against reform?

http://open.salon.com/blog/christopher_di_spirito/2009/10/27/where_do_those_without_health_insurance_live

Ken Houghton

64 (for Stupak) - 26 (against final bill) = 38.

Don't know how Cao voted on Stupak.

Lance

Apostate, was that what your Congresswoman doing?

Lance

Ken, Cao voted for Stupak.

Formerly Apostate

No. But that's sort of coincidence - I could just as easily have had a conservative rep. I simply don't believe all members of congress are truly representing the interests of their constituents. Maybe representative democracy really does work, but I don't see it, mostly because of the fact that the populace is much more liberal than the representatives, and somehow, that just doesn't seem to translate.

I think what really has happened has been better funding of conservative causes and politicians - their agenda is out of line with that of the people, but money talks.

But I am open to persuasion if you think I am wrong and have a book recommendation or something.

Lance

Victoria, there's probably not one good explanation. I've seen polls and analysis that say that the poorest people in those districts and states, the people who would benefit most from Democratic initiatives, do in fact vote Democratic. That would mean that it's the middle class that keeps sending Republicans and conservatives to Congress, and since the middle class doesn't always need---or think they need---the help and protections, that's where the "representativeness" of candidates comes into play. Republicans may just be better at nominating candidates who are seen to be "like us." See my answer to the Apostate in the next comment.

Lance

Formerly Apostate,

I don't have any books, just my own experience. I have lived and voted in 6 different Congressional Districts in my voting life and while all my Representatives didn't represent me the way I would have liked them too, I had to admit they did represent the majorities in their districts pretty darn well. The only exception was in Fort Wayne, Indiana, when we had a Democratic Congresswoman.

That was Dan Quayle's former district. She slipped into office after Quayle become VP and our Congressman was appointed to fill Quayle's Senate seat (which is now Evan Bayh's seat). She just wasn't a good fit, and it wasn't because she was a she or because she was a Democrat. She just didn't know how to relate to the people of the district. It was painful to watch her in public. She had no grasp of what was on voters' minds. People don't mind if you disagree with them if they know you understand where they're coming from and are taking their concerns seriously.

I should write a post about Al Franken's brilliance. Hmmm. Maybe I will.

At any rate, when was at the University of Iowa my Congressman was a liberal Republican (a species hard for you young whippersnappers to believe ever existed, I know) who opposed Reagan a number of issues, including the funding of the Contras. He represented the university community but that was also farm country and he was the farmers' champion against Reaganomics too.

Here my Congressman is the reliably liberal and feisty Mo Hinchey. When I lived in Boston my Congressman was Tip O'Neill, and nuff said.

Our Republican Congressman back in Syracuse is a special case, and maybe he should be another post too.

So, the reason I feel that members of Congress tend to be actually representative is that wherever I've lived that's how I've felt, represented. Even in Fort Wayne when the Republican was in office, I felt represented as a resident of that city, if not as a liberal resident of the nation as a whole.

As for the polls that show Americans are more liberal than Congress, I think they also show that they are more liberal than they themselves know and they need to be given the words to make their own liberalism plain to them. (That's one of the points Digby was making.) But they also show that most of those more liberal Americans tend to be concentrated in places that do send liberals to Congress. More Americans voted for Democrats in the last two elections but most of them live in the Northeast and on the West Coast and in cities across the country.

One big problem with representative democracy is that the South and the Great Plains states are over-represented in Congress, particularly in the Senate.


Formerly Apostate

You are probably right. Thanks for explaining.

actor212

The problem with representative democracy is trying to figure out who's being represented.

I think, generally, a Congresscritter will represent the will of his district, the vox populi. He has to do it often enough to get re-elected.

But once that calculus is achieved, he's pretty much free to vote for whomever a) creates the most noise or b) creates the most contributory rain in his coffers.

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