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  • Thursday, March 03, 2005


    Thwarting the Will of the People

    A little thought I've been toying with in the back of my mind: What if most of the apparatus of "democracy" is not to clarify and implement the "will of the people" but to deny, dilute, and nullify it?

    Part of problem with instituting democracy in any group of people numbering over, say, 2,000, is that you have to come up with a representative system. This means you elect individuals to represent you at the town, state, and national levels. Ideally, these elected people should look out for the interests and well-being of their constituents. These constituents are the people who elected them plus those who did not vote for them but who live in their district or town plus those who cannot or did not vote at all.

    One flaw in this system is that pressures are brought to bear on these representatives from unelected people from special interest groups or lobbying groups or even from their elected peers. None of this is particularly new or insightful. However, instead of looking at the pyramid from the perspective of the electorate up to the elected, I'm starting to look at this from the top of the institution down, particularly what influences are most prominent on these elected officials in their day-to-day government activities. This was what impressed me: except for the task of getting elected, how much of an elected representative's time is actually spent listening to real constituents and implementing legislation to improve the lives of these constituents?

    Seems pretty mundane when I describe it. Perhaps it's not much of an insight, just more of the reality of politics as a generally soulsucking game.

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