The Seven Influences

There are seven strong influences on politicians which cause them to ignore the will of the people whom they claim to represent.

(1) Polls

We have already illustrated how polls are manipulated to appear as if they represent the will of the people when sometimes they do not. If the politician votes according to the polls, his real voters will often be frustrated.

(2) Political groups

This includes action committees and all those businesses, religions and ideological groups with a political agenda which contribute a significant amount of money or influence to help their candidate get elected. When this occurs, the candidate incurs the well-known political debt that he must repay while in office or incur the wrath of those who put him there. If he refuses to vote in a way that pleases these powerful ones, they will work against him in the next election.

Is the will of the people represented when the politician votes the will of the few powerful folks who financed him?

No. Of course not.

(3) Interest groups and large corporations

The third obstacle that interferes with the will of the people are special interest groups and large corporations which spend many millions in lobbying politicians so they will vote and legislate according to their will.

These lobbyists will visit the legislator on a regular basis as much as possible and lay their cause and wishes before him. They will also throw parties, wine and dine, and arrange field trips in the Bahamas and other exotic locations so the legislator can become “better informed” of certain problems. They also help to arrange for fund raising contacts to help assure re-election. In addition, there are often under-the-table illegal payments made for favors.

Now, let us say it is time to vote for project X. The majority of the people are against it but only a few have written letters about it because they have been busy earning a living. The people have not captured the Congressman’s attention nearly as much as the constant influence and “assistance” of the lobbyist. When it comes time to vote, he votes “yes” because the pressure, the personal relationship, the gifts, the parties, and the free vacation are very fresh in his mind.

So, when the politician votes the will of the special interest group, is he truly representing the will of the majority of the people as he claims? In many cases the answer is a resounding “no!”

(4) Trading votes

Another common way that the people are not represented is through the trading of votes.

How does this happen? Here is an example. Let us say, for instance, that the senator from Arkansas wants a grant for research into chicken feathers and the senator from Idaho wants money for research into the control of the rabbit population. Now, neither of these projects have enough support to pass, but each one of these guys would be a big hero in his home state if he could bring home the big bucks so here’s what they do. The senator from Idaho approaches the senator from Arkansas and says, “I don’t really care about your feather research project in Arkansas, but I desperately need to get my rabbit project passed, so I’ll tell you what. You vote for my project and I’ll vote for yours.”

The Arkansas senator jumps at this and agrees, and so they make a trade or agreement, and support each other’s projects even though neither the senators nor their constituents could give a rat’s behind about it.

So, when the senator from Idaho votes for the feather project in Arkansas, is the will of the people he represents truly represented?

We often hear of strange projects on which our Congress spends millions of dollars, like the study of the sex life of a mosquito, and we wonder who was crazy enough to have voted for such a thing. In addition to earmarks, this trading of votes is part of the answer, and is also one of the reasons Congress always manages to spend more money than they should.

(5) Ignorance

You have probably heard about pieces of legislation that are accompanied by something like 1,500 pages of research or legislation. Do you think our legislators take the time to read the whole thing? Very rarely. The real truth is that they frequently do not even read one page of material that is related to a bill they are voting on. Quite often, all they know about the bill is what they have heard tossed around in debate or what their party bosses have told them.

Many bills have riders attached to them that will have more teeth than the bill itself. Often times, the politician will know only a small amount about the bill and little or nothing about the riders or earmarks, unless the legislation happens to be a pay raise for himself and colleagues.

Therefore, we ask, when the legislator votes for something he knows little or nothing about, can he in any way truly represent the will of the people who voted for him? Again, the answer is no.

(6) Party leaders

Influence from party leaders is another big item. We have seen time and time again that close to 100% of legislators vote along party lines because of pressure from their leaders and the group itself.

From the time we were teenagers, most of us have had some desire to fit in with a group and conform. This influence carries over in many ways to adulthood and is strongly manifest when our guy goes to Washington. We have seen time and time again that a person with high goals and good intentions goes off to Washington, only to wind up under the thumb of party leaders and Washington influence.

When your person in Washington votes according to the wishes of party leaders, is he or she representing the will of the folks back home? Again, the answer is obvious.

(7) Prejudice

The final barrier to real representation is prejudice. Each elected official has certain preconceived notions and religious convictions that are not the same as those folks who voted for him.

If this person believes that the earth is only 7,000 years old because of religious conviction, will this not affect his votes on education, which teaches evolution?

If his religious convictions makes him strongly for or against abortion, we know that there is nothing in the world, including the will of the people, that will alter his vote.

If the guy uses pot, then he will usually support the legalization of it.

If he has lots of kids, he will favor tax breaks for families, and so on.

Each legislator brings numerous prejudices to his vote that has nothing to do with the will of the people.

When we view all seven of these obstacles to the will of the people, we may feel overwhelmed and feel within ourselves that we should just give up trying to change anything and just hope for the best.

The truth is that we do not have to give up on the possibility that the will of the people can become truly manifest. Such a thing is not only possible, but it is the destiny of the age to come.

There is a solution to these seven obstacles and they can be eliminated in one masterstroke. Better still, it is in complete harmony with the Constitution of the United States, and most other free countries. Instead of just complaining about political situations, in our next section we will present a practical solution that could become a subject of great debate and revolutionize the entire political world.

Next: Changing City Hall