Friday, February 08, 2013

Who's the boss of who?

I'm really sick of reading articles like these -- reading opinion researchers and political scientists applauding the cleverness or canny smarts of politicians who do what the people who voted for them want them to do.

Take this example:

The survey … by Democratic pollster Diane Feldman and Republican pollster Bob Carpenter using live phone calls to 1,500 women, found that “women who may not ordinarily vote in a non-presidential year are among those most engaged with issues of gun violence.” ...

“As we approach the 2014 congressional elections, the question will be to what degree do single women, lower income women, persons of color participate since that’s the Democratic edge,” she said. “And this is an issue that can encourage them to participate.”


Well, duh --- if politicians pay attention to our needs, we'll pay attention to them. Otherwise, why bother?

Or this more subtle example from John Sides: the political scientist lists a long list of issues on which the Prez is working for what the people who elected him want -- gay rights, gun control, withdrawal from Afghanistan, women's equality. Then he wonders:

… it’s not clear to me whether Obama’s actions on these issues are really about catering to his Democratic base—and thereby rejecting these “right-leaning whites”—or just catering to broad numbers of Americans, including many outside his base.

…Obama is confronting minorities of Americans on these issues—and minorities that really haven’t been Democratic votes for some time.

The President is just doing what the majority who elected him wants him to do. What needs pondering about that?

What requires all this study is why elected officials so often ignore what their constituents expect of them. That's worth digging into: are we seeing corruption, individual ambition, stupidity, or are they scared to spell out the push and pull of governing to their constituents? If the last, why not?

Doing what politicians were elected to do should be the norm in a functioning democracy, not some novelty to be studied.

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