Bryan posted this about his kinsman and my representative, Micah Caskey:
Guys like @MicahCaskey are why a representative republic is great. He can spend the time reviewing the details and let us all know what the deal is. That way, I can get the benefit of an educated opinion without doing the detail work myself. https://t.co/Txh72KPsFF
— Bryan Caskey (@BryanCaskey) January 3, 2018
Yep, that’s exactly the way our representative democracy is supposed to work. Elected representatives are not your agents whom you send to do your bidding. They’re people you delegate to go do what, in a complex modern economy, most people don’t have time to do: Go to the capital and study and debate complex issues until they understand them better than they otherwise would — and then act accordingly.
A lot of Americans, maybe most of them, don’t understand that. They expect the following from elected officials:
- That they make very specific promises when running for office.
- That those promises appeal directly to what they, the voters, want to hear.
- That, once elected, the representatives do exactly what they promised, without amendment or deviation.
I don’t expect those things at all. With me, it’s more like:
- I don’t care to hear specific campaign promises, because I don’t want that person, once elected, to have his or her hands tied.
- To the extent that such promises are made, it’s not necessary that they align with what I think should be done. Sure, if the candidate is promising a lot of stupid stuff I’m dead-set against, I’ll oppose him or her (in part for the simple fact of making pandering promises, whatever their content). But I don’t expect agreement across the board. Since I don’t buy the prepackaged sets of values the left and right sell, there’s never been a candidate with whom I agreed on everything.
- Once elected, I expect the representative to buckle down and study, and debate matters with people with different views, and learn, and become wiser about the issues than he or she was during the campaign. And if that means breaking a stupid promise that was made when the candidate was less wise, then I hope my representative has the courage and integrity to do so — like George H.W. Bush ditching the “read my lips” thing.
But as I said, too many people have the first set of expectations, and that misunderstanding has led to many of the ills our country is suffering today. The Tea Party and Trumpism were both outgrowths of the frustration of people who were mad because the people they had elected had not followed through on stupid promises they had made.
The danger in that, of course, is that you can arrive at a point at which people who will actually follow through on stupid promises get elected.
Which is where we are today…
Which is why a fine representative like Micah is good to find. Which in turn is why, once I met him and saw how bright, serious and thoughtful he was, I gave up my crazy thoughts of running for the office myself. I didn’t see how I would do a better job than he would. I don’t remember any of his positions in particular; I just remember that the way he approached issues made me trust him to address them wisely in the future.
And that, boys and girls, is how our system is supposed to work. And yes, this will all be on the final exam…