Today at a spaghetti lunch sponsored by the Palmerton Area Democratic Club at the Big Creek Grange a representative from Congressman Tim Holden’s campaign said that Holden’s votes in Congress attempted to represent the views of his constituents.
Political scientist that I am, I immediately thought of the theories of representation. Holden’s idea that a representative should do what his or her constituents want is called the delegate theory of representation. A representative is sent to congress to echo the views of the voters who elected him or her.
Edmund Burke, who wrote a letter to his constituents explaining why he supported the American revolutionaries even though it hurt people in his district who depended on cotton imports, articulated the trustee theory of representation. This theory says that a representative should vote the way his or her conscience dictates, even if the constituents disagree with the vote.
A third theory of representation is called the politico theory of representation. This theory hold that a representative votes in whatever way will get him or her reelected. Representatives in this category, for example, might vote for legislation that is opposed by their constituents and they might personally object to, but it brings in big bucks from campaign contributors.
My guess is that Senator Argall and Representative Heffley, if they think about this at all, are in the politico category.