Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Virtual Representation and Connecticut

One of the "heresies" our Founding Fathers explicitly rejected at the time of the Revolution was the theory propounded by some in the British Parliament of "virtual representation"--that members of the House of Commons, even though elected to represent specific constituencies, somehow exercised a virtual representation for other parts of the Empire--from Boston to Calcutta. As good Lockeans, the Americans argued against this and maintained that representatives represent only those who have elected them (the basis of the no taxation without representation argument).

In Washington, of course, there has been a growing temptation to succumb to the lures of virtual representation, that somehow members of Congress "speak" on behalf of constituencies around the world. But even more disturbing, from my perch, is to watch how some of those who are leading proponents of "spreading democracy" don't want to let democracy play itself out in the Connecticut Senate primary and general election.

In the end, the decision as to whether or not the incumbent Senator or his challenger should receive the nomination of the CT Democratic Party is not in the hands of DC pundits, commentators or bloggers. Connecticut voters are under no obligation either to "send a message to George Bush" or to convey a message about the relative size of the tent that encompasses the Democratic Party; they are under an obligation only to select someone to represent them (the voters of CT) and, since we are a republican system of governance, to select someone whose judgment they trust to act on their behalf.

Lieberman can and should be held accountable for his actions just as Lamont's inexperience and ability to actually function as an effective member of the U.S. Senate are perfectly acceptable and legitimate campaign issues. If CT voters don't want a liberal hawk to represent them, no matter what the national DLC may want, that is their choice; if they decide that Lamont is a one-issue protest candidate who can't be effective, that is their choice too.

Too many in DC pay lip service to democratic elections here and abroad--but don't want to accept the consequences and results.

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