Term Paper: Model of Representation Trustee and Delegate

Pages: 6 (2153 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  Topic: Government  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … agents, elected officials usually try to represent the people (as their primary principle) through models of trustee and/or delegate representation. However, the task of balancing the two models of representation is very challenging because they are competing visions of representation. One of the main incentives of political leaders is to reflect the interests of their constituents because of the link between their offices and popular elections. Furthermore, representative democracy seems to imply that elected officials should perform the will and desires of those who elected them. According to the findings of researches, many Americans appear to be politically uninformed and/or apathetic regarding politics, findings that also generate certain challenges. The major challenge raised by these findings is whether politically uninformed or apathetic citizens are truly capable of democratic governance. Secondly, there are concerns on whether politicians should reflect the interests of the people when these individuals or constituents may not totally comprehend their own interests. In light of these concerns and questions, it's important to examine which model of representation is best suited to meet the needs and demands of the American population.

The Task of Representation:

Representation can be described as an instrument of power since it's an institutional mechanism through which power is structured in a political society (Schwartz, p.23). Therefore, representation has significant effects on expanding, sharing, creating, and limiting power between the government and its citizens. From a political point-of-view, representation makes the people to get involved in the actions of a state's governing power. In this case, representatives are chosen by the represented to be the governing power or legislature of the state. Since the feudal times, representation has developed to become an instrument of power rather than impersonation of some larger wholes. As an important facet of representation, power is regarded as effective control of the environment i.e. control over persons and things.

While representation basically involves selecting a few representatives to represent many people, it's a very challenging task. The complexity of this process is attributed to the lack of clarity in the representational relationship about who governs whom. Actually, this is an empirical question that cannot and should not be solved through definition. The complexity of the process is also evident across three major aspects including the fact that it limits the power of the king and the power of the people (Schwartz, p.23). Secondly, it expands both the power of the king and the power of the people. Third, this process empowers the executive and the people while also expanding the power of the entire state. Since the representative acts as the midway between the executive and the mass, balancing these procedures based on constitutional limits seems to be a challenging process. As a result, the need to create such balances makes the task of representation to be more difficult and complex.

Models of Representation:

Even though the task of representation is characterized with some difficulties and complexities, there are two models that have dominated the normative explanations of representation i.e. delegate and trustee. These models are quite different in the approaches to representation to an extent that their roles are contrasting aspects of all theories of representation. One of the major principles in these models is that they established a process in which representative was either directly bound to the directing control of the represented or he/she was not. Therefore, both models are subject to the veto power of constituents during the time in office (Schwartz, p.26). Despite dominating discussions and theories of representation, delegate and trustee models do not exhaust all avenues of action that are available to the representative.

Delegate Representation:

According to many political thinkers, delegate representation is the best form of representation because elected officials serve as instruments of those whose who elected them. The origin of the delegate theory can be attributed to the writings of James Mill who considered the representative as a placeholder for the constituent body (Russell, p.6). According to the proponents of delegate representation, a government whose representatives do not adhere to the instructions of their citizens cannot be considered as representative democracy. Therefore, the main principle behind delegate representation is that the representative must be the organs of his/her constituents.

With regards to policy making in delegate representation, the policy maker or elected official selects the policy based on the belief of the public about the potential benefits of the policy and its ability to serve their interests (Fox & Shotts, p.6). There are several concepts that have been used to describe delegate representation including looking for the interests of the electoral constituents, making decisions based on the constituents' will and desires, and being more responsive to sanctions. This implies that an elected official or political leader should follow the mandate of his/her constituents. As a result, these leaders are given minimal self-determination in selection, performance, and accountability.

Trustee Representation:

The trustee model of representation has its origin in one of the famous political philosophers of the 18th Century Edmund Burke, who was the first major proponent of this model. While Burke's political philosophy was never clearly developed, it can be deduced through his literary work and speeches. One of the speeches that show this link is when Burke stated that he cannot continue practicing things that were harmful to the nation. This statement was fueled by that fact that it was uncommon for constituents to give instructions to their representatives regarding policy matters during the period when Burke was elected as an MP. In his disagreement with mandates from constituents, Burke stated that political leaders or elected officials must put the nation's interests before their personal interests and interests of their constituents.

Unlike the delegate model, the trustee representation requires policymakers to select policies based on their best judgment regarding the ability of the policy to promote the public interest. Therefore, elected officials or political leaders should use their own judgment in determining what serves their constituents rather than rely on constituents' mandates (Verstein, p.76). As trustees, political leaders are described as people who look for the good of the nation, rely on personal judgment of what is good, and are less responsive to sanctioning (Rehfeld, p.215). While trustees act based on their personal judgment of what is good and the nation's interests, they in turn further and serve the interests of their constituents either locally or nationally. The ability for trustees to rely on their persona judgments and the nation's interests during decision making means that they have a freer hand in representation.

Most Suitable Model for the American Population:

Since the American government is a complex system with many people, it can be considered as a representative system through which the general public has the right to select their representatives. As the general public has this right to selection, it expects the government to represent their desires and interests. Therefore, the American public plays a crucial role in determining public policies because of expectations to be served by the elected officials. The need to serve the interests and wishes of the public has also been significant in determining the country's governmental structure and decision making processes.

However, several researches have indicated that many Americans are politically uninformed and/or apathetic about politics despite of these expectations. These findings have raised numerous concerns and questions regarding the most suitable representation model for the apparent representative system in America's political structure. First, there are certain difficulties in determining whether elected officials should reflect the people's interests when these constituents are not fully aware of their own interests. Secondly, the capability of democratic governance in America remains uncertain because its population is politically uninformed and/or apathetic.

There has been constant debate regarding the most suitable representation model in America since the trustee vs. delegate problem is nearly as old as democracy itself. American politics has been characterized by ongoing debate on whether the trustee model or the delegate model makes for better government (Rosenfeld, par, 4). Conservatives have continued to support and empower trustees because of their distrust of direct democracy and fear of the autocracy of the majority. On the contrary, populists have favored the delegate model, which they believe truly represents the people's interests because the trustee model places much power on distant elites. The ongoing debates, arguments, and counter-arguments are despite of the fact that the trustee usually wins when it comes to the U.S. presidency.

Recent polls have shown that many Americans are continuing to lose faith in their elected officials in light of the ability of these political leaders to help their constituents and solve the ever-increasing severe problems. This trend is also fueled by the tendency by politicians to represent the best interests of the rich corporate elite, who are the main cause of these serious problems. Notably, the American population has most often selected the trustee model of representation, which has limited the public input to the legislative process to the elections alone. While American citizens have usually trusted that political candidates… [END OF PREVIEW]

Four Different Ordering Options:

Which Option Should I Choose?

1.  Buy the full, 6-page paper:  $28.88


2.  Buy + remove from all search engines
(Google, Yahoo, Bing) for 30 days:  $38.88


3.  Access all 175,000+ papers:  $41.97/mo

(Already a member?  Click to download the paper!)


4.  Let us write a NEW paper for you!

Ask Us to Write a New Paper
Most popular!

Representation and Culture Research Proposal

Representations of Corregidora Novel to Black and Feminine Essay

Air Traffic Control Union Representation: Pro Term Paper

Representation of the Human Figure in Hindu Essay

Competency-Based Education Models Term Paper

View 1,000+ other related papers  >>

Cite This Term Paper:

APA Format

Model of Representation Trustee and Delegate.  (2013, May 16).  Retrieved July 22, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/model-representation-trustee-delegate/1403642

MLA Format

"Model of Representation Trustee and Delegate."  16 May 2013.  Web.  22 July 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/model-representation-trustee-delegate/1403642>.

Chicago Format

"Model of Representation Trustee and Delegate."  Essaytown.com.  May 16, 2013.  Accessed July 22, 2019.