He is a politician, he will do whatever is necessary to get re-elected. And thats all that needs to be said.
We are not a pure Democracy, not even an impure one, we are a representative republic, whose leaders are chosen democratically.
I don't know the answer, but short terms in office and competitive districts are a way of minimizing the conflict: let the official vote his conscience, so long as the voters can weigh their reprentative's good and bad points after a brief period and choose whether to retain him. If you have to wait six years before you can get rid of the person you elected, he'd better be more faithful to your wishes. Long terms tend to prevent Senators from bearing the full responsibility of their actions (but Congressmen are in such gerrymandered districts that they can get away with a lot, too).
The best officials will do what they think is right. And the best voters will decide whether to re-elect him or her based on whether they agree.
It's not only the elected officials who are responsible - the voters are too.
note the error of Pilate.
Or they can just do nothing -- that seems to happen a lot.
An honest politician - and it isn't a contradiction in terms, necessarily - will vote for what his conscience tells him is right and pay willingly with his job if the electorate disagrees. That is why we elect men and women, and not poll-taking machines. And that is the difference between a democracy and a representative republic.
The dilemma is inherent in the concept of representative government. Edmund Burke's exposition (as follows) endures as perhaps the most eloquent statement of the matter, but the Federalist Papers and Madison's Notes show that the framers of the Constitution recognized the problem as well.
After years of dealing with issues, political candidates, and officeholders, on some things I trust the public, but on others I trust officeholders of my preference. The public is best and most competent at resolving large issues about values and the balance of power between government and the people, while politicians are best at working out the details and running the government. But neither the people nor officeholders should be fully trusted.
Edmund Burke, Speech to the Electors of Bristol
3 Nov. 1774Works 1:446--48
I am sorry I cannot conclude without saying a word on a topic touched upon by my worthy colleague. I wish that topic had been passed by at a time when I have so little leisure to discuss it. But since he has thought proper to throw it out, I owe you a clear explanation of my poor sentiments on that subject.
He tells you that "the topic of instructions has occasioned much altercation and uneasiness in this city;" and he expresses himself (if I understand him rightly) in favour of the coercive authority of such instructions.
Certainly, gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion, high respect; their business, unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own. But his unbiassed opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
My worthy colleague says, his will ought to be subservient to yours. If that be all, the thing is innocent. If government were a matter of will upon any side, yours, without question, ought to be superior. But government and legislation are matters of reason and judgment, and not of inclination; and what sort of reason is that, in which the determination precedes the discussion; in which one set of men deliberate, and another decide; and where those who form the conclusion are perhaps three hundred miles distant from those who hear the arguments?
To deliver an opinion, is the right of all men; that of constituents is a weighty and respectable opinion, which a representative ought always to rejoice to hear; and which he ought always most seriously to consider. But authoritative instructions; mandates issued, which the member is bound blindly and implicitly to obey, to vote, and to argue for, though contrary to the clearest conviction of his judgment and conscience,--these are things utterly unknown to the laws of this land, and which arise from a fundamental mistake of the whole order and tenor of our constitution.
Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests; which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates; but parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices, ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole. You choose a member indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not member of Bristol, but he is a member of parliament. If the local constituent should have an interest, or should form an hasty opinion, evidently opposite to the real good of the rest of the community, the member for that place ought to be as far, as any other, from any endeavour to give it effect. I beg pardon for saying so much on this subject. I have been unwillingly drawn into it; but I shall ever use a respectful frankness of communication with you. Your faithful friend, your devoted servant, I shall be to the end of my life: a flatterer you do not wish for.
Incumbents don't lose unless the old media says they did something really really bad, or they get redistricted, or they cross Karl Rove.
The real goal is not just to get reelected, but to get rich.
The only ethical question most Congressmen have to ask themselves is how specific should he get when telling a "supporter" where the new interstate highway will run.
If this so called "911 Intelligence" Bill passes without addressing the immigration issue I will wonder that myself.