The Congressional Career: An Assessment of the Relationship between Congressman and Constituency
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Democratic legislative institutions require effective representation. The act of representation can be interpreted a number of ways, but all can include the notion that one's ideals and interests are presented by the actions of another. Hobbesian theory notes that, "A representative, he says, is a man who acts in the name of another, who has been given authority to act by that other, so that whatever the representative does is considered the act of the represented" (Pitkin, 8). Hobbes adhered to the idea that the representative possesses the authority to decide what he sees as representative of his constituents (Pitkin, 8). On the contrary, Rousseau concluded that representation was tyranny, and thus impossible to effectively achieve. His theory states that, "Thus no political system can be truly representative in the ideal sense of that term; as soon as a people sets up representatives it ceases to be a people, because it no longer has a General Will" (Pitkin, 10). This study will argue that effective representation includes the congressman achieving the following: identify with the constituents of his district, enact good working public policy in the House, present himself as both available and concerned about the struggle for the common good at both the local and national levels, and provide coherent and valid explanation of his voting behavior. This study will also suggest that with the fulfillment of effective representation, reelection is more secure than without.