Zach Antoyan is a political science senior and Mustang News liberal columnist. | Ian Billings/Mustang News

Ian Billings/Mustang News

Zachary Antoyan
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Zachary Antoyan is a political science senior and Mustang News liberal columnist. These views do not necessarily reflect the opinion or editorial coverage of Mustang News. 

This past week while I pitched my tent in line at Starbucks in the University Union, I noticed the television on the wall was, like clockwork, playing one of those national news stations that isn’t NPR. Fascinated as I was by their devotion to endless coverage about the shutdown, I began to see a pattern develop around the arguments that members of congress were using to justify their … let’s call it moral fortitude in not voting to re-open the government.

The 30 or so hard-line conservative members of congress, Tea-Party backed and grassroots-organized, are using their strategic position to hold the Speaker of the House John Boehner by the balls. They simply refuse to budge on one central issue, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). And their reasoning follows the pattern that 1) the ACA will be devastating to the American people (because their in-house fortune teller said so) and that 2) their constituents all voted them into office so they could fight big government. What is interesting about this is that they attribute their tenacity towards the ACA to listening to their constituents. And indeed, the role of a representative is to be exactly that, representative.

However, to what degree should elected officials at the federal level act, petition and vote according to the sentiment of their constituents? Additionally, should it be the duty of the representatives to recognize when they should be representative of their constituents, and when to employ their knowledge and understanding of national issues to deal with national problems?

The difficulty in this is asking representatives to disregard their constituents and possibly even compromise values for the betterment of the nation.

Imagine it this way; the bears in Canada decide to take back the land that is rightfully theirs and to do this, create a massive bear army. So Vancouver is in ruins, Iceland is secretly giving the bears munitions and the bears are slowly approaching the American border. Members of Congress from the northern states are worried that the war will spill over onto American soil, but ultra-liberal environmentalists don’t want to use lethal arms to combat the bear menace; instead they want to use non-lethal bear mace.

The cost to ship bear mace from Russia, because they use a lot of it over there, is astronomical, and paying for bear mace is going to require social programs defunded and decreased tax incentives for everyone. Even though the entire military of Canada, one tank, two bi-planes and ten moose-mounted soldiers, couldn’t stop the army of bears from decimating the Canadian populace, representatives from the districts with these ultra-liberal environmentalists want to maintain their image by sticking to the platform of environmental protection at all costs. All this despite the fact that General Fluffypaws of the 1st Armored Bear Division is moving in on Seattle. Even though the representatives know that there isn’t enough bear mace in the world to beat the bears back, they stick with their constituents in their convictions and attempt to derail all efforts to buy regular arms.

Political theories on this issue often times have the representative consistently listening to the constituents, and acting strictly on their behalf. And if they don’t follow the sentiment exactly, then they should at the least stick to their own values and morals. These actions should be taken in order to better serve in the role as a representative and also maintain moral consistency. Many people consider waffling to be a bad thing, even with apples on top.

But what kind of moral code requires a person to disregard and neglect blatant facts in favor of moral consistency? Perhaps representatives should more closely examine their values and values of their constituents in the context of the political climate at large, then make decisions based on those observations. Maybe then we would be more accepting of waffles and more scornful of moral and political entrenchment.

For some reason, the idea of maintaining basic government functionality is a more difficult concept to grasp than keeping thousands of Americans out of work for the sake of listening to your constituents. And sometimes it’s difficult to grasp the concept that first it’s pants, then belt, but not everyone gets it on their first try.

This is Zachary Antoyan, wondering what happened to the mountain lion, because he is being upstaged by this bear. Have a fantastic week.

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1 Comment

  1. Mr. Antoyan; you seem to be attributing some higher level of intelligence and judgement to our elected officials than to the public. Are you sure you want to go down that road? My perception is that our politicians are neither particularly bright or in possession of particularly good judgement.

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