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Is the American legislature working or have we lost representation of the people?

With the recent congressional debacle over gun control and the failed attempt at increasing background checks, despite 90% of the population desiring such regulation, I feel as though the current congress is not functioning properly. I am starting to strongly feel as though the people elected to represent citizens are not understanding/caring what the people want.

  • May 1 2013: Miguel,

    I think it's a valid question & one that deserves a deep look.

    For one, I think polling data is soft at best. Polls are fickle; people are fickle. Case in point, after the Gulf War, Bush Sr.'s approval ratings were sky-high and re-election seemed like a sure thing; but in the next election Clinton soundly beat him.

    Two, look at the polling data right after Sandy Hook and then a few months later. If it's not in front of people, feelings and interest wane.

    Three, look at this poll from Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/162083/americans-wanted-gun-background-checks-pass-senate.aspx which shows that 65% of Americans thought the Manchin-Toomey gun amendment should have passed. 65% is not 90%. Where'd the rest of the people who "wanted it" go? Perhaps, the original reports of the polling data were incorrect.

    I wrote about this on Policymic.com here http://www.policymic.com/articles/37587/gun-control-debate-2013-why-aren-t-90-of-americans-mad-as-hell-about-background-check-defeat The Washington Post ran an article titled ""Why the American Public Isn't mad As Hell About the Failure Of the Gun Bill (In Numbers)". In it, they cite that after the bill failed, 20% were "very happy" with another 19% "relieved" the bill didn't pass; 15% "angry" & 32% "disappointed" it didn't pass; and 10% "none" & 3% "no opinion" about it.

    They cite another WP article titled "90% of Americans want expanded background checks on guns. Why isn’t this a political slam dunk?" for their source data for the claim that 90% originally supported the gun bill. The article links the actual poll ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/page/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2013/03/12/National-Politics/Polling/question_10030.xml ) which shows the question was specifically limited to "Q: Would you support or oppose a law requiring background checks on people buying guns at gun shows?"

    But the Machin-Toomey admentment wasn't about just "gun shows", so claiming 90% support for the bill appears incorrect.
  • May 1 2013: Miguel,

    I'd like to tackle the 90% number being used to as support for additional gun legislation. A couple of questions I would pose is how are we arriving at this 90% numbers. Most polls that I have seen often ask general questions such as this one:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/page/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2013/03/12/National-Politics/Polling/question_10030.xml?uuid=HcpuoosBEeKbGt6yWKJPLQ

    It simply asks:

    "Would you support or oppose a law requiring background checks on people buying guns at gun shows?"

    However, I would argue that this does not translate into support for additional gun control legislation for expanding background checks. In addition, how many of these respondents are knowledgeable of existing gun control laws? Do these respondents know that background checks are already commonplace at gun shows by law? I would argue that the 90% number being used is not only derived from flawed surveying, but that it is being misused to support additional legislation.
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    May 1 2013: Miguel Rivera wrote,

    "I am starting to strongly feel as though the people elected to represent citizens are not understanding/caring what the people want."

    - -

    I think this reflects a common thought among many Americans, but it needs clarity to identify the specific potential problem and focus upon an appropriate answer. It's possible that "the people elected to represent citizens" might actually be appropriately representing their constituents, but others (an elected official's non-constituents) might simply disagree with that official's position.

    Congressional Representatives are elected to represent the citizens in their Congressional District, not Americans at large. I would expect a Congressman from at predominately-DEM district to have different political views than a Congressman from a predominately-GOP district. Similarly, Senators represent the citizens of their state, not America at large.

    I don't necessarily see a direct link between Miguel Rivera's quoted "90% of the population" and the statement that "the current congress is not functioning properly". Perhaps an individual Congressman or Senator voted in accordance with the wishes of his or her constituents. Without specific identification of the officials and their votes - and in comparison to the specific concerns of their constituents - it's hard to say whether or not Congress is functioning properly.

    One possible solution is to emphasize highly-localized issues, instead of focusing upon broader geographical areas. An example of this is currently happening in NY State on NY's most recent gun laws. Individual counties and cities are passing proclamations for or against the new gun laws, and citizens can now pin their agreement or dissent on a very accessible local politician ... and vote accordingly during the next election cycle. Over the course of several election cycles, the elected officials will ultimately reflect quite well the political views of their collective constituents.
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    Apr 25 2013: Source please for the statement, "90% of the population desiring such regulation"?
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    Apr 25 2013: That is a two way street
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      Apr 25 2013: Miguel,

      I don't want to make to fine of a point of this, but ....

      The affirmative task we have now is to actually create a new world order.” — Vice President Joe Biden, April 5, 2013

      The US has been under seige for approximately 20 years by administrations, and forces within and outside of the country not the least being George Seros the man who owns President Obama and is calling the current shots in our government. You worry about Congress as the most powerful man in the world is taking the country down ... Ben Berneke the Chair of the FED. The guiding economic policy is the Keynesian theory of economics which has little or no concern about the national debit being larger than the GDP. The Fed is writing check to banks, industry, and buying acid debits from all over on funds that do not exist. We have abandoned the Constitution .... making laws through Executive Orders and by passing Congress ... we are enforcing Obama care "a supreme Court declared Tax" that will backrupt most states .... the government is growing and the resources are shrinking ... we are approaching a depression and a recession that may occur at the same time ..... We have created the largest welfare society on earth and still growing .... I could go on and on ....

      So here is my answer to you .... The problem is not Congress or even the administration ... the problem is the idiots who elected, re-elected, and support these idiots who are destroying MY country.

      And with that answer I also ask a question .... are you part of the problem or will you become a part of the solution.

      Bob.