Tags: federalist papers | trustee | delegate | obamacare | senate | republicans

Examining Democratic Representation After Senate Healthcare Debacle

Examining Democratic Representation After Senate Healthcare Debacle
(Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)

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Thursday, 20 July 2017 02:28 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Why do the Republicans have difficulty agreeing about healthcare reform? Is there something in the Republican genetic code causing this inability to forge a compromise and make a decision? Perhaps, the failure for consensus is a Republican trait, but another explanation could be buried deeper into the political fabric.

The momentum to have a full repeal of Obamacare began to diminish as President Trump talked to elected officials, such as Governor John Kasich, who made his trek to the White House to explain what full repeal would do to Ohio. Certain states, including Kasich’s Ohio, accepted huge windfalls of optional money from the federal government made possible by Obamacare, substantially expanding Medicaid. The states, however, had the choice of whether to accept the federal money or not. The states that signed up became accustomed to the money. Other states, more cautious, did not drink the Obamacare Kool-Aid and take the money.

The problem now is those states that have taken the Obamacare federal money, particularly for Medicaid, are telling their U.S. senators and representatives not to kill the golden goose. Other members of congress, who realize the national debt is exploding and that a healthcare entitlement like Obamacare is unaffordable, want to keep their promise and end the law that took over one sixth of the national economy.

Those opposed to Obamacare realize that if it cannot be repealed, the nation’s economy in the future will be in a disastrous fix. Moreover, they also know a central government in control of such a large sector of the economy will in the long-run eat away at the freedoms of the entire society, resulting in inferior health care, corruption, and a loss of freedom.

This healthcare dilemma reveals a philosophical matter that has been discussed for centuries: should members of Congress vote exactly as the people prefer, or are the members elected to exercise judgment and do what is best, even if it is not what the people prefer? In the world of those studying politics, the two types of representation are called trustee (exercise judgment) and delegate (do what people want).

It should be mentioned that public polls have asked citizens: if the representatives know what is best, should the representatives do it and ignore the public’s immediate wishes? The poll result shows the public tends to prefer that the representatives do what is best.

Ideally, a good representative functions with both types of styles; but here, concerning the repeal of Obamacare, the choice is stark. Repealing Obamacare will seriously hurt certain states and the people in these states; not repealing Obamacare could in the future help bankrupt the nation and jeopardize all the other entitlements.

When the constitution was written different representation styles were less of a problem. Senators were selected by state legislatures and not directly answerable to the people by an election. Moreover, "the people" did not involve all the citizens. Over centuries America has become what one would say is "more democratic." In at least some respects, the people have more direct control over their government now than in years past. Laws, constitutional interpretation, and new amendments have given the people more potential leverage over the politicians.

In the past, a trustee representation was all that was possible. Mass communication and mass transportation now permit more contact between the people and government.

The framers also never anticipated an entrenched political class, so worried about the next election, they would not do what they believed was best. Moreover, the framers expected a high quality of individuals sent to congress; these members winnowed from the responsible sectors of society. The framers never anticipated huge sums of money injected into elections for a media campaign of little substance and irrelevant to the eventual actions of the elected officials.

The current situation is that the media and the politicians demagogue the delegate style, demanding the people have their way. Certainly those Republicans in Congress blocking a repeal of Obamacare know full-well the long-term cost and the damage to the nation, but this group of Republicans care more about their next election and the short-run. They are definitely not operating in trustee style.

In the past, the Democratic Party, while usually advocating more government programs, exercised some restraint and awareness that its spending could not be so great as to bankrupt the nation. Now in an era where anything can be said and done, and future problems are not even seriously considered, those politicians desiring to be a trustee, exercising responsible judgment, are shouted down, and most likely are Republicans.

These weak-kneed Republican delegates and the self-righteous Democrats and all of the people encouraging their behavior should read the Federalist Papers, and they should begin with Number Ten and this excerpt: "… democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been incompatible with personal security or the rights of property… "

The healthcare reform problem exposes how damaging so called past "democratic reforms" are to long-term management of the nation. It also exposes the corruption of those politicians, particularly in the Democratic Party, advocating policies they know full-well will come to haunt and impoverish America.

John Havick has a Ph.D. in political science. He was a professor at Georgia Institute of Technology for many years, authored several books and a number of articles, including the widely cited "The Impact of the Internet on a Television-Based Society." His work has appeared in The New York Times, and his recent book, "The Ghosts of NASCAR: The Harlan Boys and the First Daytona 500," is available at ghostsofnascar.com. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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Why do the Republicans have difficulty agreeing about healthcare reform?
federalist papers, trustee, delegate, obamacare, senate, republicans
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2017-28-20
Thursday, 20 July 2017 02:28 PM
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