ethel’s words

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CONSTITUENTS?

Among the blatherings denouncing Mayor Rocky Anderson of Salt Lake City, Utah, for his activities in self-government, are numerous proclamations that he is obligated to live by the views of “his constituents”. But there seems to be confusion about what constitutes a “constituent”. One meaning of “constituent” is “a person who voted for the winning candidate”. Another dictionary meaning is “a resident” of the district that the elected official represents. (Nearly all of the complaints against Mayor Rocky Anderson are from persons who do not live in Salt Lake City.)

It may be desirable, if possible, for an elected official to carry out any campaign promises or pledges, and, surely, to give some kind of audience to those who elected him/her. (I believe he /she has no obligation to pay respects to anybody or any corporation to which there is no special pledge.)

A person who voted for the winning candidate approved at least some of his/her political views. Those who voted against must be viewed as opposing the winner’s ideas. So how can the elected official do what is desired for both these opposites? Clearly, just being a resident in the winner’s district cannot be grounds for demanding “a constituent’s wishes”. But what we witness--hear--are demands that our Mayor cater to philosophies that he does not share; that he serve the persons who voted against him, rather than the voters who elected him. In addition to that, we hear declarations that the Mayor must answer to residents of the entire state, an idea so thoughtless it is ludicrous.

I am fully aware of the popular slogan that “the elected official represents all the people”. This is the damnedest nonsense I ever watched people swallow. Is this a one-party system? Well, nearly. We certainly have one-party thinking. Why do we have elections? So everybody can vote “yes”?

Originally, our multi-party political system had real divisions, with real ideas, real programs, real philosophies. And a winning candidate was expected to implement the platform on which he/she was elected. The winner is not supposed to serve churches and other special interest groups. He/she should not accommodate corporations rather than the voters who elected him/her. He/she must uphold our Constitution and obey our laws, but aside from that, the mandate is to serve those who voted for him/her.

The confused critics, attacking a public official who is honest, forthright, daring, and innovative, further distort our elective system, ceaselessly complaining, trying to find a way to silence intelligent politics.

Ethel C. Hale