Fresh from her win at the Ames Straw Poll, Michele Bachmann went on Meet the Press Sunday morning.
I cannot understand how any conservative can watch her and not be appalled by Rep. Bachmann’s decidedly unconservative approach to governing. She ignores basic civics and doesn’t understand that our country is a representative republic rather than a direct democracy.
David Gregory patiently kept asking Mrs. Bachmann about her vote against raising the debt ceiling. He asked:
The entire Republican leadership thought that was the wrong thing to do. Major members of the business community in this country thought that was the wrong thing to do. Why should we trust your judgment that that was the right thing to do and not a reckless act?
In summary, the response was:
Because that’s the judgment of the people of this country. The people of this country would love to weigh in, and they would love to say, “Tim Geithner, Treasury secretary, you’re wrong. Mr. President, you’re wrong.”
But this is why we have elected representatives, Congresswoman, who actually know the true financial impact of a step like this. Maybe people are against raising the debt ceiling, but the reality is, bipartisan agreement, in the business community, is saying you don’t do that — you don’t mess with the full faith and credit of the United States.
Bachmann countered with:
… let me just answer your question because you said, well, all the people in Washington said we had to raise the debt ceiling, all the people out in America said don’t raise the debt ceiling. That’s the problem with Washington.
She then proceeded to explain her civics views:
…representatives are supposed to represent the people that they serve. The people that they’re serving are saying, “You guys don’t have it figured out. Stop spending money you don’t have.”
This is just wrong. Besides the fact that only a plurality of voters (rather than “all the people out in America”) were objecting to raising the debt ceiling, a very large percentage of people in all polls actually admitted that they did not know enough to form an opinion.
That is precisely the problem with governing by opinion polls as advocated by Bachmann. We, the people of the United States, go about our busy lives. We don’t have time or other resources to learn enough about all important issues of the day to have well informed opinions. That’s why we have adopted the Constitution and delegated all legislative power to Congress. That’s why we elect representatives to a fixed term, pay them nice compensation packages, provide them with staff, the Library of Congress and the power to summon witnesses to their hearings. We expect them to use all those resources to educate themselves on the issues and make carefully considered decisions. Yes, we love to weigh in from time to time — that’s why we have regular elections! But we don’t actually want to weigh in all the time — that’s why the Constitution has no provision for any referendum under any circumstances.
But, perhaps instead of explaining all this, I should have just quoted the great conservative political philosopher Edmund Burke:
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.