Good Essay About My Congressman, My District And How I Am Represented
In accordance with Article I, Section I of the United States Constitution, the Congress shall be the legislative branch of the government (Cornell University Law School). Historically, the Congress, as a constitutional institution, has got an ambiguous, scandal and vague reputation among the American population. The framework of these observations will be illustrated by the author.
The issues of the American Congress’s unpopularity with the American citizens, and a simultaneous respect and high consideration for the Congressmen representing their own districts, the doctrines of the symbolic and substantive representation, the phenomenon of “Gerrymandering” and the constitutional critique respecting the formation of electoral districts – all these concepts and problems will be explored and debated within this paper. Apart from this, the author will identify his home congressional district and his Congressman, his political campaigns and positions, and type of political representation.
Unpopularity of Congress and Esteem for the Congressmen
The surveys and poll opinions demonstrate that the American population views the Congress as an institution which is characteristic of the inaptitude to resolve the substantive problems the nation is facing. In 2012 40 percent of the American citizens voiced their support for the Congressmen elected in their districts and representing them in the House of Representatives, while showing an obvious disapproval of the Congress as an organization and a legislative branch of the government (The American Panel Survey).
One of the political analysts on the American government once explained this phenomenon by the following statement: “Throw the bums out. But not my bum” (Murse). The point of the story also lies within the principle that the American voter will not hold the Congressman liable for the Congress’s faults in general, for this Congressman has all chances to be his neighbor.
The people are familiar with the Congressman they vote for and with his or her election campaign and program – people choose their Congressman basing on the factor that they know him or her. And, to the author’s mind, the voters tend to criticize their Congressmen less owing to perhaps the psychological factor leading to the criticism of their own choice embodied in a particular Congressman. By the way, in recent years, the number of Americans who support the Congressman from their districts and at the same time hate the Congress as a constitutional institution, has the tendency of decreasing.
Types of Political Representation and Gerrymandering
The definition of political representation has gained much consideration and attention in the literature and in the scientific circles. Hanna Pitkin is famous for having proposed the categorization of political representation notion. The mentioned above researcher heralded four types of political representation: 1) formalistic; 2) symbolic; 3) descriptive; and 4) substantive (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). The author will emphasize the symbolic and substantive types of political representation as they more relate to the essence of the congressional representation of the American people.
According to Pitkin, the symbolic representation deals with the meaning and significance of the Congressman for the potential voter. Whereas, the substantive type of representation is attributable to the certain results (outcomes) and is associated with the factor of how effectively the Congressman represented his district and voters’ interests.
In other words, the aforementioned symbolic and substantive types of political representation may be explained more plainly by referring to the notions of a “delegate” and a “trustee”. Broadly speaking, basing on their approach to and understanding of voters’ representation, Congressmen tend to adopt two types of behavior. A Congressman of the “delegate” type assumes that he is obliged to vote in the way as the vast majority of his voters thinks; a Congressman of the “trustee” type considers that he must not follow the opinions of his voters so strictly, because he, as a politician, possesses the wisdom and consciousness to act upon his convictions and beliefs which are likely to benefit the people.
The boundaries of the congressional districts are established by the local legislatures. The history of the United States witnessed the cases when these districts were formed without the adherence to the constitutional principle “one citizen has one vote” with the aim of gaining more votes and winning the elections. This phenomenon can be traced back to 1812 when Elbridge Gerry, the governor of Massachusetts, approved of the law which created a disproportionate and unconstitutional congressional district. Since 1812 the process of forming such strange and unlawful districts has been called “Gerrymandering”. There even exist the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States abolishing such actions (Raban; CliffsNotes).
My Congressman Marsha Blackburn and the 7th Tennessee District
Turning to my Congressman: Marsha Blackburn is a member of the U.S. Republican party and leads the conservative policy in the areas of taxes and healthcare. She is widely famous among the public for opposing the Affordable Care Act and introducing the fair tax legislation for American families. Marsha supported the bill for the abolishment of abortions after 22 weeks of gestation excluding the cases of incest and rape. In addition, Blackburn participated in the congressional consideration of the Affordable Care Act and claimed that this law and the “Obamacare” campaign interfered into citizens’ rights to private health information.
Recently, Marsha has introduced a bill to balance the local sales taxes and federal income tax. She proposed that Tennessee residents deduct their local sales taxes from federal income tax to create the tax justice for industrious people in the state (The Ripon Advance Reports).
During her political career and re-elections, Marsha has participated in the activities of various committees within the Congress: Committee on Energy and Commerce; Subcommittee on Health Care; Republican Study Committee; National Republican Congressional Committee.
Prior to the engagement in politics, Marsha worked in the retail fashion industry on several positions till she opened her own business which she currently continues to run. Marsha has been praised and rewarded for her valuable campaigns and initiatives by recognizing her a few times as one of the best members of the Congress (Marsha Blackburn 1 – 3).
The institution of American Congress is full of challenges and uncertainties encompassing the framework and types of congressional political representation (symbolic and substantive, or a “delegate” and “trustee” types of Congressmen), the “Gerrymandering” phenomenon which is inconsistent with the constitutional fundamental principle of “one person – one vote”, and an ultimate disapproval of the very Congress with a support for separate Congressmen representing the country’s districts. In the tideway of these ambiguities, the author managed to identify his own Congressman and district which has also been the subject of “Gerrymandering” process debated in the given paper.
CliffsNotes. "The Organization of Congress." Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <http://www.cliffsnotes.com/more-subjects/american-government/congress/the-organization-of-congress>.
Cornell University Law School. "U.S. Constitution." Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution>.
Marsha Blackburn. 1 – 5. Print.
Murse, Tom. "Why People Hate Congress But Keep Re-Electing Their Congressman." Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <http://uspolitics.about.com/od/CampaignsElections/a/The-Term-Limit-Debate.htm>.
Raban, Ofer. "Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court of the United States." Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <http://law.uoregon.edu/assets/facultydocs/ofer/gerrymandering.pdf>.
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. "Political Representation." 2 Jan. 2006. Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/political-representation/>.
The American Penal Survey. "Public Attitudes About Congress and Members of Congress." 1 Jan. 2012. Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <http://taps.wustl.edu/files/taps/imce/Public Attitudes About Congress and Members of Congress January 2012.pdf>.
The Ripon Advance Reports. "Blackburn Backs Tax Fairness for Tennessee Families." 15 Apr. 2015. Web. 16 Apr. 2015. <http://riponadvance.com/news/blackburn-backs-tax-fairness-for-tennessee-families/11173>.