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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim, Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Representatives who represent

Representatives+who+represent

Elected officials must better reflect will of people

I identify as a Democrat, but there is nothing I want more than to see a healthy and fully restored Republican party. 

That may seem like an odd statement, yet this should be a sentiment that all Democrats share. The U.S. government currently governs through the means of a two-party system. This system—albeit far from perfect and possibly in need of a change—requires two equal parties. At the moment, the Republican party seems determined to solidify itself as a fringe, minority party for the foreseeable future. This is not sustainable nor beneficial for our country. 

While U.S. President Joe Biden and his Democratic Congress continue to achieve legislative momentum, who’s to say the midterms won’t give at least one chamber of Congress back to the Republicans? This possibility will bring with it the need for bipartisanship. Effective bipartisanship requires people from both parties who possess reason, open-mindedness and a dedication to the common good. A fringe Republican party will not put forth people willing to engage in this form of meaningful deliberation and fruitful debate.

At the moment, we do not have two equal parties. The Democratic party has its problems and its fair share of infighting, but it currently pales in comparison to the tremendous rift and internal virus that plagues the Republican party. The party of Abraham Lincoln, which once protected the Union in the face of a bigoted insurrection, is being overrun by an insurrectionist doubled as the former president, a conspiracy-obsessed electorate and a swath of neglectful and enabling representatives. 

A prime example of this faction in the Republican party is Dave Ball, the chairman of Pennsylvania’s Washington County Republican Party. During a local television news interview, Ball commented on Sen. Pat Toomey’s decision to vote to impeach former U.S. President Donald Trump. “We did not send him there to vote his conscience. We did not send him there to do the right thing, whatever he said he was doing. We sent him there to represent us, and we feel very strongly that he did not represent us,” Toomey said.

Ball is correct. Toomey chose not to represent the conspiracy-ridden, inaccurate and childish views held by Ball and fellow Republicans. However, Ball is wrong in thinking that the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania did not send Toomey to Washington D.C. “to vote his conscience and to do the right thing.” Toomey recognizes the true role of a representative in a representative democracy. The 18th-century British statesman and father of philosophical conservatism Edmund Burke once remarked, “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”

Toomey chose to give his constituents his judgement and refused to debase our Constitution and his oath of office by cow tailing to the opinions of others. 

Contributing to the Republican party’s self-marginalization is the sheer number of Republicans in both chambers of Congress who are either the standard bearers of the conspiracy-obsessed electorate (i.e., Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene) or those who simply neglect and enable the evils plaguing the party for the purpose of political gain (i.e., Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz). Too many Republican members of Congress are failing to truly uphold their duties as representatives. 

The Republican party needs more representatives willing to actually represent. We need more Republicans of Burkean descent who are willing to exercise their judgement, even in the face of an angry, violent mob. Our representatives and their staff need to listen attentively and respectively to the opinions and concerns of the American people. However, after they have listened, taken notes and truly processed the concerns of the people, I ask that they not simply regurgitate what they’ve heard. 

I want my representatives to exercise their consciences and their judgement. I want them to pull from their education and their past experiences in addition to the opinions of their constituents in order to make informed decisions. 

Luckily, there is reason for hope. There are still many who wish to restore their party, uphold the Constitution and legislate on behalf of the American people. There are Congressmen like Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who began a movement within the Republican party to rid itself of its America First fringe to instead put “Country First.” There are those like Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who recently put forth an incredible piece of legislation aimed at combating child poverty. There are those like Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who questioned her allegiance to and the trajectory of her party if it remains “the party of Trump.” 

These three Republican legislators and many more have proven to act on their “better angels,” as Lincoln would say. They proved themselves worthy of higher office. They demonstrated the empathy, reasoning and temperament needed to truly represent their constituents and the American people. This is the role of the representative. It takes a respect for democracy, an understanding of the Constitution and the moral courage to do what is right. I want to see a restored Republican party. 

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