Representatives are often compelled to maintain the interests of their constituents against their wishes – Edmund Burke

Thomas Peck, in his 1892 Notes on Ecclesiology, page 169, has a wonderful statement on the true nature of the American republic:

“Our civil government is a representative republic. The source of all political power is the people, who ordain and establish a constitution, a fundamental law, by which the exercise of the various departments of government is given to certain officers or bodies of officers, legislative, judicial, and executive, chosen or appointed in a certain way prescribed by the people in the constitution. Now, all these officers, whether in this department or in that, whether acting singly or jointly, represent the people, because they were chosen by the people, directly or indirectly. But they are, when chosen or appointed in a constitutional manner, not responsible to the people (that is, in the sense of ‘constituents’ or ‘electors’), but to the law. The representatives in the legislature, and the executive, and all other officers chosen by the popular vote, are responsible, not to their constituents, but to the constitution – ‘that is to say, not to the people who elected them, but to the people (sovereign) whose will is expressed in the constitution.’ So that, as Burke said to the electors of Bristol he had done, the representative is often compelled to maintain the interests of his constituents against their wishes.”

Oh, that our congressmen/women understood and believed and practiced this, rather than voting based on what the majority of their constituents think (which is just another way of saying voting based on wanting keep their job for another term).

Burke’s speech to the electors of Bristol is excellent, and may be found here and, with an historical introduction (and a longer version of his speech) here.


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