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What Is Representation?





Dennise
In a democratic country, such as the US, the government is supposed to represent the citizens interst. However in many countries - including the US - I feel true representation today is questionable and is slipping away. I think a few complex questions could be the basis for some interesting discussion:

1. At what point does lobbying cease to be faithful representation?

2. At what point does campaign spending limit, obscure or even distort an accurate picture of candidates and their platforms?

3. In the interest of true representation, is is possible to manage the above and accomplish some sort of better representation?

Any ideas?
deanhills
Dennise wrote:
1. At what point does lobbying cease to be faithful representation?

When it gets to negotiating terms and conditions for the subject of lobbying without referring back to the electorate.

Quote:
2. At what point does campaign spending limit, obscure or even distort an accurate picture of candidates and their platforms?

When it gets technical beyond standard advertisements in the press.

Quote:
3. In the interest of true representation, is is possible to manage the above and accomplish some sort of better representation?
No. It can't help but turn into a situation where candidates have to compete for campaign funding. The really good candidates who can't get the funding don't get nominated, stand for election, or can survive the campaign without going into bankruptcy.

Dennise wrote:
Any ideas?
Redesign the campaigning so that minimal funding is needed so that your better less experienced candidates who cannot get access to millions of dollars also get a chance to stand for election.
handfleisch
Author Steven Hill (http://newamerica.net/user/23) has written a lot on this subject and has noted which western democracies are in fact the most democratic -- that is, how often do the opinions, wants and needs of the people get reflected in decisions by the elected leaders. The USA does not score very high in this regard.

There are many ways that the basic opinions and wants of the citizens are never reflected in policies. Most people think that the extremely low tax rates should be reversed before important programs are cut, but we have continued the low taxes and the spending cuts for years. Most people favor decriminalizing marijuana, but elected officials ignore this (it is only happening in state referendums which bypass the politicians, and the federal gov't still opposes these state measures).

Across the board there are tons of basic things that the USA does not have that European democracies do have, things that reflect benefits to the people in general, like underground power lines, advanced public mass transit, low-cost universities, subsidized child care, maternity leave, long vacations, high minimum wages, employee protections. Most or all of these things would be preferred by the American people and there is no reason we can't have them if European countries have them, but this preference hardly ever get any notice by elected officials.

And vice verse, elected officials here insist on legislating and talking about things that most Americans think should be left out of politics-- things like religion and birth control.
ocalhoun
While I agree with much of your sentiments there, I do have a bone to pick with some of your spending-happy wish list.
handfleisch wrote:

underground power lines,

Is this really an important issue?
In most cases the benefit would not justify the high cost.
It's also a matter of geography. Much of the US is far less densely populated (and just plain bigger) than europe, making per-capita costs for such power transmission upgrades far higher.
It's also more of a local issue. Something that would be much better handled at the municipal, or county level... state level at most.
Quote:
advanced public mass transit,

Again, this is largely a geographical difference.
Transportation of anything (be it power, data, goods, or people) is more difficult and more expensive when the destinations are spread over a wider area.
Making a good mass transit system for, say, France is a much more manageable project than making a good mass transit system for such a large landmass as the US.
Quote:
low-cost universities,

This one I'll grant you. Higher education costs are skyrocketing, without a consummate rise in the wages of educated people. This is a problem that needs to be fixed.
Quote:
subsidized child care,

I don't have children. Neither me nor my girlfriend ever want to.
Why should our money be taken to subsidize others whose life choices were less prudent?
Quote:
maternity leave, long vacations, high minimum wages, employee protections.

This would be good to have, for the most part.
I'd prefer it to come about without government interference, but failing that...
icon-lille
personne ne représente plus que lui méme, faut arreter de croire aux politiques


Moderator Google translation wrote:
person represents only himself, should stop believing in political
-Ankhanu
Iceaxe0410
Quote:
1. At what point does lobbying cease to be faithful representation?


It basically boils down to money. When too much money is poured into lobbying, it begins to cease to be faithful representation. Money corrupts people and this can easily be seen with politicians. Lobbies with the most money generally get their way by funding campaign contributions and other monetary schemes. Those lobbyists with very little money barely get their voice heard unless if they have numbers.

That's a major difference. In order for lobbies to make a difference they either need money or a large following. Those with money, don't necessarily need numbers to get their way with politicians and unfortunately this seems to be commonplace in the United States.

I'm not saying lobbying is evil by no means. It is a necessary force that needs to keep government in line with what the people want out of their government. The problem comes when corporations with their special interests interfere and take the process away from the people. There needs to be better control over how business interacts with government. But, money talks. I don't see this changing in the near future or if at all.

Quote:
2. At what point does campaign spending limit, obscure or even distort an accurate picture of candidates and their platforms?


Campaign contributions...sigh. That's all I can really say. I strongly believe that campaign contributions should be banned outright, but only if restrictions are placed where individuals cannot use their own money to fund their campaigns. It's a serious problem here in the U.S.

I suppose I should expand that to say I believe that all candidates should have equal campaign platforms. Same amount of time, same amount of ads, same amount of publicity. If you strip away the money, you can begin to look at the individuals for their beliefs, views, and opinions. Money obscures and hides what should matter most when choosing a candidate for office.

As it stands now, anyone that wants to run for office but with no money, cannot run simply because they won't get their name out to the general public. They probably would not even get to voice their views on any large scale. It comes down to whoever has the most money to spent on campaigning.

Quote:
3. In the interest of true representation, is is possible to manage the above and accomplish some sort of better representation?


Yes. Will it happen, probably not. It would take people with strong values in key positions of power to reverse the trend we are in now. The only way that would begin to happen is if you take away the money or at least limit the amount of money spent for campaigns. Make elections about the individuals running for office rather than who has the most money to get their name heard.
deanhills
Iceaxe0410 wrote:
It basically boils down to money. When too much money is poured into lobbying, it begins to cease to be faithful representation. Money corrupts people and this can easily be seen with politicians. Lobbies with the most money generally get their way by funding campaign contributions and other monetary schemes. Those lobbyists with very little money barely get their voice heard unless if they have numbers.
Great post! I'd say that the main corrupting influence is the political system that makes this kind of "representation" possible, and that those "buying" the politicians are even more guilty than the politicians themselves.
donfilipo
handfleisch wrote:
Author Steven Hill (http://newamerica.net/user/23) has written a lot on this subject and has noted which western democracies are in fact the most democratic -- that is, how often do the opinions, wants and needs of the people get reflected in decisions by the elected leaders. The USA does not score very high in this regard. ......
.



Well i am from EU (Slovenija) and I must say, that our (European) social-democratic way, which had some expansion along with christian-democracy after the WW2, and versus communism and CCCP, is slowly dying. Maybe cause there is no Left and authoritative alternative...which truly was also aggressive in ideology (communistic parties:),...or maybe the pressure of capital and corporations is to big even for all masses of people (which probably would have interest in probably more human social-democracy)....well that's not easy to figure out.

I have seen both: communism (Slovenija as part of Jugoslavika had till 1990 communism and communist on the top...well in american terminology which is false, ..actually communism is utopia from Marx, ...what we and Russians had, was called socialism by Marx:)...and now we have so called capitalism and liberal democracy, with 5 parties and elections.

And we have from USA sponsored (probably with knowledge of CIA:) randists (Ayn Rand:) and similar neolibs, which are all the time preparing the mem for a another move in the right political direction, that means in neoliberalism. And most people are getting overall poorer and poorer. Cause till now, the employment is not rising..and the salaries, except for a few happy individuals, are not rising more that prices.

The problem od course is not simple, cause ex really poor people from China (which although called socialistic, hardly knows for social security:) are getting more competitive and rich...and someday maybe the China and it's Communistic Party on the top will start to work in the interest of their own workers (if not they are simple masked fascists:) and maybe also in the name of Internazionale from Marx (workers of the world unite:)....or the world will become a dark and poor place under heavy state almost fascistic control, with no workers rights, low wages, and no social security. Ha?
JoryRFerrell
Dennise wrote:
In a democratic country, such as the US, the government is supposed to represent the citizens interst. However in many countries - including the US - I feel true representation today is questionable and is slipping away. I think a few complex questions could be the basis for some interesting discussion:

1. At what point does lobbying cease to be faithful representation?

2. At what point does campaign spending limit, obscure or even distort an accurate picture of candidates and their platforms?

3. In the interest of true representation, is is possible to manage the above and accomplish some sort of better representation?

Any ideas?


1. It ceases to be representation when you lobby for things that a politician has recently flip-flopped to "support" (Like Obama being prepared to represent Gay's right before election...then not doing shit after re-election. Rolling Eyes) . It also ceases to be the real deal when they accept exorbitant amounts of money from folks with interests clearly at odds with who they claim to support.

2. It distorts their true image as soon as they have the ability to influence major news media (this has been an issue since a few forever-ago's really, but it does get better at times....and worsen at others...) and things tip past a point where folks honestly fighting to keep at least a decent amount of political info available to the public, are unable to continue doing so because money has polarized everything past critical mass. Now that may seem to be an exaggeration, but tell that to Middle Easterners who lost yet another family member to our air "power" because Americans (who DO NOT take even the illusions of "freedom" for granted. *NOTE: This was sarcasm*) don't feel it's worth protesting or getting upset about.

3. YES. HELL YES. But it requires tons of people getting active AND TELLING our government to put severe limits on lobby spending and reception. Not asking....but TELLING. We are allowed...(rather WE ARE OBLIGATED TO), in a true Democratic Republic....in A FREE NATION....to CONTROL our government...not the other way around. Some people may be cynical about the possiblity of a truly "free society", and they have right to be (Such a thing can't exist through and through. Too many factions are naturally power hungry.), but that doesn't excuse us from doing what we can to make sure tyrants don't rule us...or behave as our "saviors" while they violate all other folks, supposedly on our behalf (Keen to draw any Nazi Germany-parallelisms to modern happening's anyone?).
If the U.S. government told the American people (if we agreed as a majority) that we did not have a right to tell them to eliminate possible conflicts of interest (Which we mere mortals [NON-BILLIONAIRES in other words] could never wrangle or engage in ourselves, with our financial mean's, then something is seriously wrong with our government. If we slam our government and tell them to eliminate irrefutably un-lawful, corrupt, and un-democratic means of grabbing power by those with wealth and power...and they refuse...well...I think it is safe to say Caesar must have been resurrected, along with his other unsavory followers, because that is exactly what this feels like. To be fair, this state of affairs, has again, always existed, albeit at different degrees and levels. Also, it is safe to say that the powerful themselves point it out to get people riled up: "OMG FOLKS! The Republicans/Democrats are after your rights!" And our response: "Yea... was anyone ever not after them?" Never-the-less, we would be wise to not ignore these issues. Even if Americans make out well now, we are going to have other nations pissed off because it is they who take up the slack (sometimes at our physical sword-point, but usually with a financial-gun cocked at their heads). Take Africa for instance. We currently strip them of security financially (and physically by our arms trades: cheap ammo and modern weapons they wouldn't normally have access to, at least in quantity), but again, the rich and powerful lobby to keep that kind of thing of the nightly news. Instead they want you to worry about flies buzzing around...and gasp!!..landing on Obama during an interview. Honestly....who the hell gives a flying monkey about flies?! Talk about Obama and his actions. Anything else and I will be forced to consider the fact that news producers have been bought off to intentionally divert our attention from honest facts....or they truly are morons who some how managed to be accidentally charged with delivering news which is seriously meant to defend our freedom by keeping us well informed.

End note: Holy shit batman...if my community continues to shove aside honest shit like this while instead worrying about me (I am an easy fix), I will learn Canadianese, tattoo my balls with a red maple leaf, and buy a passport...

OH CANADA, OUR HOME AND NATIVE LAND.....

SHIT... Shocked ...sorry...got sidetracked with dreams of fresh, political-manure-free pastures. I am tired of people trying to force me to do things the "adult" way, then they sit back hypocritically and allow other folks to be blown away. Put down your bong/golf-club ******. You know you would expect others to do so if your kids were getting killed.
jajarvin
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parliamentary_system
Quote:
In a parliamentary system, the head of state is normally a different person from the head of government. This is in contrast to a presidential system in a democracy, where the head of state often is also the head of government, and most importantly: the executive branch does not derive its democratic legitimacy from the legislature.


In USA there is no parliamentary system.
handfleisch
JoryRFerrell wrote:


1. It ceases to be representation when you lobby for things that a politician has recently flip-flopped to "support" (Like Obama being prepared to represent Gay's right before election...then not doing shit after re-election. :roll:) .

Where the heck are you getting your info? Gay rights is one of the things that Obama has been most active on. Whatever your source of info is, it is causing you to think the opposite of reality.
JoryRFerrell
handfleisch wrote:
JoryRFerrell wrote:


1. It ceases to be representation when you lobby for things that a politician has recently flip-flopped to "support" (Like Obama being prepared to represent Gay's right before election...then not doing shit after re-election. Rolling Eyes) .

Where the heck are you getting your info? Gay rights is one of the things that Obama has been most active on. Whatever your source of info is, it is causing you to think the opposite of reality.


He has supposedly fought for it, but then: http://www.christianpost.com/news/gay-activists-call-obama-coward-over-failure-to-sign-executive-order-73327/

I think the unusual timing was a sign that he wanted support from the gay community. At the same time, once he received it, he "went soft" on the issue, pretending to put up a fight, while all -the-while, possibly secretly supporting shit like DOMA. I would expect Obama to attack something which is clearly a human right's violation, with more....gusto.... :\
handfleisch
JoryRFerrell wrote:
handfleisch wrote:
JoryRFerrell wrote:


1. It ceases to be representation when you lobby for things that a politician has recently flip-flopped to "support" (Like Obama being prepared to represent Gay's right before election...then not doing shit after re-election. :roll:) .

Where the heck are you getting your info? Gay rights is one of the things that Obama has been most active on. Whatever your source of info is, it is causing you to think the opposite of reality.


He has supposedly fought for it, but then: http://www.christianpost.com/news/gay-activists-call-obama-coward-over-failure-to-sign-executive-order-73327/

I think the unusual timing was a sign that he wanted support from the gay community. At the same time, once he received it, he "went soft" on the issue, pretending to put up a fight, while all -the-while, possibly secretly supporting shit like DOMA. I would expect Obama to attack something which is clearly a human right's violation, with more....gusto.... :\
The Christian Post is a joke. It's like citing the Flat Earth Society for facts about the moon. I first came across the CP when they ran the fake news that the White House was supposedly counting unborn visitors to the White House tours, and "why can't they count unborn babies as children worth saving from the violence of abortion." It was all ludicrous BS. http://www.christianpost.com/news/white-house-insists-unborn-babies-should-be-counted-74916/

It's not possible to have a discussion unless some reasonable basis for info is used. Why don't you find out what Obama's actual record on gay rights is, and what gay rights group think of him. Then there will be a reason for a discussion.
JoryRFerrell
handfleisch wrote:
JoryRFerrell wrote:
handfleisch wrote:
JoryRFerrell wrote:


1. It ceases to be representation when you lobby for things that a politician has recently flip-flopped to "support" (Like Obama being prepared to represent Gay's right before election...then not doing shit after re-election. Rolling Eyes) .

Where the heck are you getting your info? Gay rights is one of the things that Obama has been most active on. Whatever your source of info is, it is causing you to think the opposite of reality.


He has supposedly fought for it, but then: http://www.christianpost.com/news/gay-activists-call-obama-coward-over-failure-to-sign-executive-order-73327/

I think the unusual timing was a sign that he wanted support from the gay community. At the same time, once he received it, he "went soft" on the issue, pretending to put up a fight, while all -the-while, possibly secretly supporting shit like DOMA. I would expect Obama to attack something which is clearly a human right's violation, with more....gusto.... :\
The Christian Post is a joke. It's like citing the Flat Earth Society for facts about the moon. I first came across the CP when they ran the fake news that the White House was supposedly counting unborn visitors to the White House tours, and "why can't they count unborn babies as children worth saving from the violence of abortion." It was all ludicrous BS. http://www.christianpost.com/news/white-house-insists-unborn-babies-should-be-counted-74916/

It's not possible to have a discussion unless some reasonable basis for info is used. Why don't you find out what Obama's actual record on gay rights is, and what gay rights group think of him. Then there will be a reason for a discussion.

Ok, fine:

http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/obamas-failure-to-sign-enda-executive-order-indefensible-and-inexplicable-says-washington-post/politics/2013/08/05/72446

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/15/obama-discrimination-executive-order-slammed_n_1426668.html

That last one is effing Huffington Post. And the Washington Post is even mentioned at the beginning of that artical. If you claim them to be incredible, I don't know what to do next. Razz
Note...this issue wasn't even about gay marriage, but discrimination from employers. Which I would think a very, very important issue. Yet Obama could not support it? We are talking about people's livelihoods. In a way, this order was even more critical than protecting LGBT rights to same-sex/transgender marriage. This covered people's asses so they could at the very least survive and provide for their families even if they couldn't get married. This is a huge fail in my eyes. It's issues like this that show reluctance to throw full weight behind support for human rights. So therefore, I am calling his whole "evolving-position-on-LGBT-right's" a hoax. He claimed to be behind it, but only for the support it might possibly garner. He relied on peoples desparate dreams for equality, and knew it would make him the "obvious" choice sitting next to Romney. However illogical, his PR folks knew that people have a tendency to "hope and jump" even if they have no logical reason to trust EITHER position, and so it was an excellent move if he wanted to get a manipulated vote out of a minority.
handfleisch
JoryRFerrell wrote:

That last one is effing Huffington Post. And the Washington Post is even mentioned at the beginning of that artical. If you claim them to be incredible, I don't know what to do next. :P
Note...this issue wasn't even about gay marriage, but discrimination from employers. Which I would think a very, very important issue. Yet Obama could not support it? We are talking about people's livelihoods. In a way, this order was even more critical than protecting LGBT rights to same-sex/transgender marriage. This covered people's asses so they could at the very least survive and provide for their families even if they couldn't get married. This is a huge fail in my eyes. It's issues like this that show reluctance to throw full weight behind support for human rights. So therefore, I am calling his whole "evolving-position-on-LGBT-right's" a hoax. He claimed to be behind it, but only for the support it might possibly garner. He relied on peoples desparate dreams for equality, and knew it would make him the "obvious" choice sitting next to Romney. However illogical, his PR folks knew that people have a tendency to "hope and jump" even if they have no logical reason to trust EITHER position, and so it was an excellent move if he wanted to get a manipulated vote out of a minority.

The point is not whether Obama didn't do one thing that the gay rights groups wish he had done, it's this claim of yours:
Quote:
prepared to represent Gay's right before election...then not doing shit

which is wildly uninformed.

You just found one thing that he could be criticized for in terms of gay rights. That's fair enough. But how can you dismiss his historic support for gay marriage? Or his administration's refusal to defend DOMA in court? His repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell? His meeting with Russian gay-rights dissidents inside Russia? That doesn't sound like "not doing shit".

If you're gay and you don't support Obama, or think he hasn't gone far enough, I respect that. But you have to realize that many of his positions and actions in gay rights have been historically progressive and courageous. And I don't think his tactic was "hope and jump" or bait-and-switch. Surely, the LGBT community knew what they were getting with Obama as well as with Romney and overwhelmingly preferred Obama. I'd be surprised if there were any Romney supporters at all in the gay-rights community (thought maybe some in the Log Cabin Republicans).
JoryRFerrell
handfleisch wrote:
JoryRFerrell wrote:

That last one is effing Huffington Post. And the Washington Post is even mentioned at the beginning of that artical. If you claim them to be incredible, I don't know what to do next. Razz
Note...this issue wasn't even about gay marriage, but discrimination from employers. Which I would think a very, very important issue. Yet Obama could not support it? We are talking about people's livelihoods. In a way, this order was even more critical than protecting LGBT rights to same-sex/transgender marriage. This covered people's asses so they could at the very least survive and provide for their families even if they couldn't get married. This is a huge fail in my eyes. It's issues like this that show reluctance to throw full weight behind support for human rights. So therefore, I am calling his whole "evolving-position-on-LGBT-right's" a hoax. He claimed to be behind it, but only for the support it might possibly garner. He relied on peoples desparate dreams for equality, and knew it would make him the "obvious" choice sitting next to Romney. However illogical, his PR folks knew that people have a tendency to "hope and jump" even if they have no logical reason to trust EITHER position, and so it was an excellent move if he wanted to get a manipulated vote out of a minority.

The point is not whether Obama didn't do one thing that the gay rights groups wish he had done, it's this claim of yours:
Quote:
prepared to represent Gay's right before election...then not doing shit

which is wildly uninformed.

You just found one thing that he could be criticized for in terms of gay rights. That's fair enough. But how can you dismiss his historic support for gay marriage? Or his administration's refusal to defend DOMA in court? His repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell? His meeting with Russian gay-rights dissidents inside Russia? That doesn't sound like "not doing shit".

If you're gay and you don't support Obama, or think he hasn't gone far enough, I respect that. But you have to realize that many of his positions and actions in gay rights have been historically progressive and courageous. And I don't think his tactic was "hope and jump" or bait-and-switch. Surely, the LGBT community knew what they were getting with Obama as well as with Romney and overwhelmingly preferred Obama. I'd be surprised if there were any Romney supporters at all in the gay-rights community (thought maybe some in the Log Cabin Republicans).


Not defending DOMA is a pre-requisite to not having his head put on a spike by angry mobs. He already said he supports it so he can't do anything (without retribution) that directly contradicts his supposed position. He can however sit back and let things stay as they are, or allow states to pass anti-gay laws. :\ Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell made tactical sense to support. With waning recruitment and a tired force with multiple deployments per soldier means you need to accept recruits from a larger base and/or make those already in the forces happy enough to stay. Meeting with gay rights activists in Russian counts for jack as well since we (America AND Russia) take every chance to hit eachother in the groin. They took Snowden in, and so we are playing advocate to their gay population....once again....Obama seems to be playing for the gay vote... :\

Once again, I acknowledge that no (very few, enough to count as none) gays supported Romney.
But again, I think Obama realized maybe many gays wouldn't vote at all so he decided to incentivize them to vote for him. That's the idea anyways. Neutral
handfleisch
JoryRFerrell wrote:

Once again, I acknowledge that no (very few, enough to count as none) gays supported Romney.
But again, I think Obama realized maybe many gays wouldn't vote at all so he decided to incentivize them to vote for him. That's the idea anyways. :|

I know that internet chat rooms are places for weird opinions, but Obama is overwhelmingly the most pro-gay rights prez ever. Anybody can argue anything in any direction, but it becomes absurd at some point. "Caesar Chavez didn't really support farm workers". "Nelson Mandela wasn't really a force for peace." "The minimum wage doesn't really help the poor." etc etc
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