By Dante DeAmicis
They say ours is a representative government. So when do I get my representative? I keep voting and voting and still I have never got a representative. Oh, someone always gets elected to this gig or that but they never claim to represent me. Their stationary says they represent the such or such district or the State of California. None of them have claimed to represent my goals, values, principles, or premises.
A certain number of people come with a district but their standing is less than that of a renter to a landlord. They are more like the furniture that go with a furnished apartment. Just as someone normally wouldn’t care what the sofa thinks of the Federal Reserve System no representative of any of my districts has shown much interest in how that or any issue ranks with me in particular.
I’m not a needy citizen. Under the best system, a representative can’t give everything to everybody. Just push my top 5 line items. That’s all I would expect from my legislative representative. Hollywood agents deliver that much. But I’m told America has a “winner take all” system that has more in common with a casino than a job interview.
Many other counties have representatives that really are more like agents or personal advocates. Their system is called “proportional representation.” On the Federal level, our House of Representatives has 435 casino winners warming seats. If our country had proportional representation I would only have to ideally share views and basic values with one out of 435 people walking down the street. But in my 42 years of being a good voting citizen I have only been allowed to play a middleman role for a district.
In school we are conditioned to believe its an honor to be a transient middleman. We were even forced to recite a kind of middleman pledge every day which never mentions any expectation of reciprocity from the other side. Commentators regularly editorialize that our low voter turnouts for this one sided contract shows apathy on voters part rather than indifference on the system’s part. It never occurs to these pundits that if politicians acted toward citizens more like job applicants in a hiring interview voters would have more incentive to show up to the polls. It never occurs to these finger waggers that people might feel unappreciated as middleman bit players with little influence in show elections, before, during or after the main event.
Is there any way in our system to vote for someone who represents our ideas, even if they don’t get elected, instead of some nebulous district? Yes. You can run for office. You’re sure to get one vote.