A blupete Essay

The Dilemma, Part 5 to blupete's Essay
"An Essay On Democracy"

Given human nature and the political process, full democracy, beyond the smallest group size, may simply not be workable, at all. Each of us has a right to cast a vote for an individual to represent us in the legislative assembly. The elected person then goes off to represent all of his constituents, whether they voted for him or not, indeed, whether they have even voted. How is he to look at issues and how is he to vote (assuming, for the moment, that he has a free vote in parliament). Should he vote on the basis of what he perceives the majority of his constituents want, right or wrong; or, as Burke suggests, does he vote his own conscience, vote as a "better and more informed person" than his average constituent; or does he, as it seems our system obliges, just vote the party line.
"Representative institutions are of little value, and may be a mere instrument of tyranny or intrigue, when the generality of electors are not sufficiently interested in their own government to give their vote, or, if they vote at all, do not bestow their suffrages on public grounds, but sell them for money, or vote at the beck of someone who has control over them or whom for private reasons they desire to propitiate. Popular election, as thus practised, instead of a security against misgovernment, is but an additional wheel in its machinery." (John Stuart Mill, Consideration on Representative Government.)
The problem, as is so clearly set forth by Mill, is quite aside from the further and separate problem "that issues at stake in political life are too many and too complicated and that very many of them [issues] are actually unknown both to the representatives and to the people represented."6

It should be remembered, too, that any decision made and action taken in an assembly of "our" representatives can be done on the barest majority of a group; which might have been elected on the barest majority of a popular vote; which majority of a popular vote, might well, and usually does, represent a minority of the population. How can it ever be stated that any particular government measure will accord with the wishes of the majority?7

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2011