Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Proper Relevance of the Popular Will in the 2010 Elections

Some conservative and Republican candidates had criticized United States President Barak Obama and the Congressional liberal Democrats for ignoring the will of the people while promising to adhere to it themselves if they were elected. Some conservative commentators have declared that the Republicans won the 2010 Elections because the Democrats ignored the will of the people, as if to imply that the politicians should necessarily carry out the popular will and that ignoring it is necessarily improper. It is obvious that the Democrats lost because their policies were unpopular. However, it is necessary to examine briefly the proper consideration by elected public officials of the popular will.

The Framers of the Constitution did not establish a direct democracy, but a representative republic, wherein popularly elected representatives exercise their judgment, which may or may not be in accord with that of the people. In other words, politicians must do what is right, regardless of its popularity.

Nevertheless, the popular will was a relevant issue in the 2010 Elections. Popularity is determined not by public opinion polls, which are not the equivalent of a vote, but by the exercise of the freedom to petition for a redress of grievances and to peaceably assemble. Many Americans expressed their opinion to Congress over the last two years by exercising these freedoms. It was clear that a majority of them objected to the ways in which Obama and the Congressional liberal Democrats were spending their money, especially by redistributing the wealth of the people by taking it from some in order to give it to others. Thus, the Democrats who controlled the Executive and Legislative Branches of the federal government exceeded their constitutional authority, which does not include the power to take from some and to give to others for economic reasons or for any other reason than those enumerated in the Constitution. The American people were concerned not only with the economy, but their right to spend their money as they see fit. They thought it was especially unfair, for example, to have to pay with their tax dollars for the mortgages of their fellow citizens who had been dishonest or greedy in obtaining mortgages for which they were not creditworthy, the policy that sparked the Tea Party movement. Even if the Democrats were to have had authority to spend in such a manner, it would have been reasonable that the people clearly consent to it. The Democrats over the last two years should have taken the popular will into consideration on such welfare state transfer payments in exercising their judgment in the first place.

The representatives of the people should exercise their judgment. They ought not to be criticized necessarily for ignoring the public will if their intent is reasonable, although their judgment may be criticized on its merits and they must be prepared to be held accountable by the public for their unpopular decisions. But when politicians exceed their authority at the expense of liberty, then the public opposition to such an excess ought to be heard, considered and followed. Thus, conservatives and Republicans have been right to criticize Democratic politicians for ignoring the will of the people, not because the Democrats ignored it per se, but because the Democrats exceeded their authority by unreasonably spending the people's money without their consent.

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