Elected officials need to consults citizens before making decisions

Monday, January 28, 2008 | 1:44 p.m. CST; updated 5:38 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

In a representative democracy the elected representative should be aware that significant long-term decisions should be made according to the wishes of the majority of the people. While it is human nature to want to perpetuate one’s policies, it is the moral duty of elected representatives to reflect the long-term policy opinions of the majority of the people. News reports in recent days demonstrate that some of our representatives at various levels have forgotten this important concept.

The Columbia School Board, which has made questionable decisions on its initial choice of a high school site without public input and on increasing staff numbers and pay before asking for funding, now discloses that it has paid for a plan that would significantly change the manner in which compensation is decided and that would probably cost additional money. The wisdom of the new compensation plan and the quality of the present school board’s procedures are questionable. Let these representatives discuss the issue with the voters prior to the next election and then act if it still seems to be the wise path.

Showing the same disrespect for democracy, many in the national government are advocating a free trade agreement with Colombia. The wisdom of free trade agreements as presently negotiated and the quality of the Colombian government are questionable. Again, let these representatives discuss the issue with the voters prior to the next election and then act if it still seems to be the wise path.

One further example is the president’s desire to negotiate long-term military agreements and long-term American bases with Iraq. The wisdom of our episode in Iraq and the quality of the Iraqi government are questionable. Let the administration discuss the issue with the voters prior to the next election and then let their successors act if it still seems to be the wise path.

Each reader can find similar major issues that should be decided after discussion with the American people rather than quickly decided now and forced upon future representatives and the American people. Government should not stop before important elections, but important long-term decisions should be delayed.

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John Schultz January 29, 2008 | 9:27 a.m.

Politicians absolutely should not factor in voters' opinion when making their decisions. Think if of the issue most important to you. How would you feel if you were in the minority on that issue, but had the arguments, rationale, and Constitutional arguments to persuade your representative to see your side of the issue and support it? Think of some of the most contentious issues we've seen recently - Iraq, the smoking ban, a ban on gay marriage in Missouri, stem cell research, etc. How many of those issues were supported by the majority that you didn't agree with for whatever reason? Letting the masses rule is merely the tyranny of the majority.

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