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The Concept of Political Representation Essay

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In “Political Representation,” Shapiro et al. (2009) say that “political representation lies at the core of modern politics.” Representation is usually linked to the concept of democracy (Shapiro et al. 2009). The concept of representation is explicitly mentioned in the U.S. Constitution (U.S. Const. art. I, § 1, 2). However, the meaning and appropriate form of “representation” have been debated by political theorists and philosophers for centuries. The definition of representation one chooses to use is influenced by the form of representation one finds most appropriate. Given the different forms of representation, legislators can be responsive in different ways. Representation also operates at two different levels – the national and local…show more content…
2009). According to this view, the representative represents the interests of the state, not the individual, and a discrepancy between the constituency’s preferences and the representative’s actions is not problematic, because the representative does not directly represent the views of the individuals who elected him (Shapiro et al. 2009).
In Two Treatises of Government, John Locke (1823) argued that natural rights such as life, liberty and property could not be taken or given away by individuals. These “inalienable” rights limited the power of the king, who acted only to enforce the natural rights of the people. If these rights were violated, the people had the right to revolt and create a new government. Although Locke supported the idea of a representative government, he wanted representatives to be men of property (Locke 1823). Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1988) also wrote about representation in The Social Contract. Rousseau felt that individuals should enter into a social contract in which they gave up their rights to the entire community, rather than to a king. Rousseau viewed a
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