In democratic society’s, there is a representative form of government, knowing and understanding the duties the elected officials are expected to perform will aid in measuring those currently holding office, and those seeking office more precisely. While this article is steered more towards the Republic of the United States, the principles are still the same for every democratic society across the globe.
The Role of the Elected Representative – US House of Representatives
Important note, the United States House of Representatives, by US Constitutional direction, is “The People’s House.” This representative body is the general body where specific duties are demanded. Article I, section 5 of the Constitution provides the House with the authority to determine whether Members-elect are qualified to be seated.
- A congressional representative is elected to a two-year term serving the people of a specific congressional district.
- Elected congressional representatives have two duties: making laws and scrutinizing the work of the Government.
- To be elected, a representative must be at least 25 years old, a United States citizen for at least seven years, and an inhabitant of the state he or she represents.
- Congressional representatives conduct a broad scope of work to best represent a set number of constituents.
Those are the four duties of an elected representative to the US House of Representatives. Do you, personally, feel “represented” by your elected representative? Personally, I do not!
Why; the constitutional qualifications for office originate in British law, where members of the House of Commons had to live in the shires or boroughs they represented. Although that was rarely done in practice; see a pattern? The founders used that example to motivate the requirement that Members of the House live in the state they represent, which would increase the likelihood that they would be familiar with the people’s interests there. But there was no mention during the debates about living in the same district. The district system appeared later as states dealt with how to fairly organize their congressional delegations. If location, and time of living in that area, proves residence, can a person trust their representatives when they live in DC, work in DC, but claim to represent your local area?
Even during a nation-wide pandemic, it has been most unusual to observe any congressional representative living in their home state, let alone their own congressional district. Hence, it appears that congressional representation is following the example of the British House of Commons, rather than the US Constitution. Before technology, I might have bought the need to be in Washington to conduct committee business, but with technology, I do not buy the excuses! Leaving the question wide open, do you feel represented by your elected officials in the US House of Representatives?
The entire job of an elected congressional representative is to represent their district. That is the Summum Bonum of their elected duties. Yet, can you even get a straight answer from your elected representatives in a timely manner? Case in point, Rep. Debra Haaland (D), could not be bothered to help people in her district, but she sure blew her own trumpet declaring her work for her district. I have written letters to several representatives of the house over the years, and each year the response takes longer, the response is less useful, and the platitudes and emails proclaiming their work become more loquacious, braggadocio, and plastic. Where the words mean one thing, but the actions conducted are not in line with the words. I was once a member of Paul Ryan’s district. Rep. Paul Ryan (R), was considered to be a fiscal hawk, but he refused to perform his job of protecting America’s checkbook. Yet, in all the emails I received before his retirement, he was always talking about his skills and work in cutting the Federal Deficit. Despite his past fiscal conservative rhetoric, Speaker Ryan’s tenure as Speaker of the House—most of which coincided with periods of unified Republican control of the Federal Government—saw significant increases in Federal Government deficit spending. Hence, the question asked, do you feel represented by those elected to represent you?
While Speaker Ryan (R) was spending our children’s, children’s, children’s, money, his district saw massive job losses from the automotive industry, manufacturing tanked, and lob losses mounted, during which much of the rest of the country enjoyed a booming economy! When I asked Speaker Ryan why the disparity between his district financially failing, and the rest of the country booming, I received a letter discussing his fiscal genius and government cost cutting measures. My response was not worth the paper it was printed on, I left his letter in an outhouse, on a closed job site!
Using your powers of observation, can you trust your elected congressional representative to, “make laws” and “scrutinize the work of the Federal Government?” I know I can’t! When was the last time an elected representative made a law that passed the smell test? Created legislation that did not contain enough Pork to choke a Chinese Buffet? Scrutinized the efforts of the Department of Veterans Affairs to cease killing veterans? Scrutinized the IRS to ensure that those charged with collecting taxes, actually paid their taxes? Scrutinized the Department of Defense so that $23 Trillion Dollars just does not disappear? I remember watching on TV (mid-1980s), the House Speaker had business to conduct and finish, so the elected officials stopped the clock so they had time to finish their work.
On the subject of scrutinizing the Federal Government, and handling with legislation the duties needed to clean the Federal Government workers from posts where they weaponize government for personal gain, the Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) just reported some incredible examples of elected officials not scrutinizing properly!
The VA-OIG used an outside consultant, to examine 24 patient cases of concern, and the outside consultant found 16 of the 24 cases had quality of care concerns. Yet, the VA-OIG did not substantiate that the quality of care fell below standards accepted by the VA. Tell me, why hire an outside consultant to review the cases? Why are the standards lower for quality of care in VA Hospitals than in community-based hospitals? Long have I asked these and many other questions, of elected representatives, and crickets have been my answer!
The VA-OIG investigated a urologist in Des Moines, Iowa who did not have the proper authority to issue controlled substances in an operating room environment (DEA Registration). A Department of Veterans Affairs – Veterans Hospital Administration (VHA) memo had been received but never acted upon, the doctors were not notified in a timely manner that they needed the new authority to issue controlled substances, and the doctor is blamed for failure to obtain the proper authorities. Yet, how many administrators failed to perform their jobs and were never censured, held accountable, or required to suffer punishment for not timely notifying the practitioners of new requirements; none! If the doctor is censured, why not the administrative staff? The need to scrutinize the efforts of the employees of the Federal Government has never been more apparent, but the elected officials whose sworn duty it is to scrutinize, is being neglected en masse!
The VA-OIG has reported a VA Employee, Respiratory Therapist, was also a thief who stole government property and sold that property on eBay for personal profit. How many times will this story repeat before the VA is scrutinized by the elected officials, who have a sworn duty, obligation, and job requirement? Where was this employee’s supervisor, director, and hospital administrator while this theft was going on? One of the biggest problems the VA has is with beating and destroying whistle-blowers and coddling and supporting criminals. Where are the elected representatives?
How many other Federal Government Agencies and NGO’s, need scrutinized and are not being scrutinized because of the refusal to properly represent their districts by elected officials? Elected representatives to the US House of Representatives, is the template upon which every state house of representatives is formed; thus, the state legislature has only two duties, scrutinize the federal government and state government, and make laws representing their state districts. In Arizona and New Mexico, both state legislatures are failing miserably in scrutinizing, because of the example set by the Federal Government’s elected representatives.
Under the US Constitution, States have the right to censure the Federal Government for failure to act. Anyone remember this happening since 1900? The way the government works, the highest holder of control is the individual, not the Federal Government. The order of control over government and the holder of the most freedoms is:
Yet, for my entire lifetime, I have seen the exact opposite occur, and fail miserably! The Federal Government needs elected representatives who will censure, scrutinize, and demand the bureaucrat’s obedience; but the elected representatives are not performing their job. Thus, the state legislature’s need to censure their Federal brethren and demand change. But that is not happening either. The mayors of America refuse to act to protect their citizens, and the citizen just keeps being abused by those who are legally bound to help the citizen! Thus, the question, based upon the performance of your elected officials to perform two jobs, make laws, and scrutinize government, do you feel represented?
© Copyright 2021 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the images.
All rights reserved. For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn: