Sack me if you can

There’s a tendency in Washington to think that our job description of elected officials is to get re-elected. That’s not our job description. Our job description is to solve problems and to help people.

Barack Obama, January 25, 2010

2 Comments to “Sack me if you can”

  1. Let’s analyze this a different way. One can also say that it is the job of a lawmaker to make decisions according to the wishes of his or her constituents. We do elect them for a reason. Obama’s comment seems to imply the contrary.

    Naturally, a legislator can’t always poll watch on every issue, but on the main issue, his or her constituents have a right to expect a bit of compliance with their wishes. So, to a degree, yes, it is the job of elected officials to get reelected, unless he or she does not value the position.

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  2. Tommy,

    I think you’d be right if there was democracy in the sense that the constituents took charge in every political matter, on a day-to-day basis. But I believe that’s not the case. They vote a president, a senator, or a representative in, leave the daily routine to him or her, may state their momentary impressions in opinion polls or interviews (or blogs, for that matter), and review the elected officials’ records come election day (or shortly prior to it).

    When an official runs for re-election, the outcome of his work will certainly be measured with his promises at the beginning. But once he is in office, he will deal with situations as they are, and as what they evolve into. He will have to deal with lobbyists who shape the views of his constituency along the way, just as well.

    There is a duality in most democracies. A representative is expected to express and materialize the ideas of his constituents. But he is also expected to lead, and to differ. When he differs, he will either convince the constituency, or he won’t be re-elected.

    He should do as fine as he can, in the interest of his constituency. That may well make him re-electable. But if he makes re-election his top priority, I believe that he will most likely fail. In that sense, I like Obama’s somewhat audacious statement.

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