A duly elected representative in a democracy should vote for what he or she thinks is best. Voters have the opportunity to hear what the candidate believes, and if the candidate is straightforward, which is only fair, voters need to trust the representative they have elected.
Throughout the process, there should be open lines of communication for the voter to express concerns and for the representative to respond. When a response on an issue is disappointing to voters, the situation presents a moment of teaching and learning — the representative can explain the response, and the voters can learn something about their representative and about the issue. Opinions can change on either side, and the next election will reflect a better-informed and experienced candidate as well as a better-informed voter.
That is how it should work.
On February 2nd the Bristol Herald Courier printed a report by Debra McCown titled “Griffith learning ways of Congress.” That article states:
Griffith says he’s leaning toward a vote against raising the national debt ceiling, though as a practical matter he said, ‘I think ultimately [raising] it is where leadership needs to take us.”
Even so, he said he wants to be among the freshman Republicans who send a message by voting against it in principle.
We elect our leaders to tackle tough issues and do practical things that need to be done, and that is the principle that representative government should serve. Congressman Griffith stated that he believes we need to raise the debt ceiling. If he votes against the increase when he believes it is what we need to do, that is a most unprincipled vote. It is against his own stated understanding of “where leadership needs to take us.” The message he is sending to voters is false. As voters, we cannot do our jobs unless our elected leaders tell us the truth about what needs to be done and why. It is the duty of a leader to stand up and explain what needs to be done, to show us where we need to go.
Congressman Griffith should be educating voters, not echoing their fears. He receives a taxpayer-funded salary to take care of our interests in the Ninth and the interests of the nation in this difficult time. If he votes against doing what needs to be done, he is wasting our money.