Bringing Representation Home: State Legislators among Their Constituencies

By Michael A. Smith | Go to book overview

3

Burkeans

Deliberate, decide, justify: this is the Burkean's approach. For the Burkean legislator (including Edmund Burke himself), the process of making decisions and representing constituents must go, in order, through those three stages. John Wahlke, Heinz Eulau, William Buchanan, and LeRoy Ferguson seem to imply that the “whole-state” orientation precludes any attention to the district. 1. This is incorrect. The Burkean uses his own background, tenure, and actions as justifications for reelection back home. He tells constituents that he is the best person for the job, then offers the reasons why, often citing examples from his service in office or in the community. Burke's own “Speech to the Electors at Bristol” exemplifies such an approach. Many times the issues discussed are not confined to the district. The representative I call Burkean 2 boasted to constituents about his work on restructuring school districts in the most sparsely populated part of the state, hundreds of miles away. Constituents knew little about this issue and most of what they did know came from him. But for Burkean 2, this type of service exemplified his actions for the whole state. He told constituents that he had worked to educate children more effectively while using taxpayer dollars more wisely. Likewise, Burkean 1 spent a great deal of time at home discussing his support for tougher license requirements for teenage drivers. He did not point to any specific district interests, but rather claimed that his policies would benefit the state as a whole. “How does this affect my district?” was not a major concern for Burkean 1. For these two legislators, as for Burke himself, service to the district was synonymous with service to the state. Yet they stressed that the district's

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1.
Wahlke et al., Legislative System.

-23-

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Bringing Representation Home: State Legislators among Their Constituencies
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Bringing Representation Home - State Legislators Among Their Constituencies *
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • 1 - Studying Representation 1
  • 2 - Constructing Roles from the Representatives' Perspectives Literature and Methods 8
  • 3 - Burkeans 23
  • 4 - In-District Advocates 56
  • 5 - Advocates Beyond the District 103
  • 6 - Ombudspersons 128
  • 7 - Districts, Ambitions, and Strategies in a Term-Limited Era 175
  • Afterword 200
  • Appendix 203
  • Bibliography 215
  • Index 221
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