That very question came up recently on my Facebook feed. It seems that an American legislator voted against a bill that would prohibit discrimination by landlords against homosexuals… and said legislator is homosexual himself.
His reasoning is that he is representing the will of his constituents over his own self-interest. That is what prompted the question: Exactly what is the job of an elected representative?
Some people say that as a legislator, he should uphold some big-picture vision of the Greater Good. Those people argue that a legislator should oppose discrimination because discrimination is generally a bad thing, even if it goes against his personal beliefs. If government, as a whole, does not do this, civilization is in trouble.
Other people say that he was elected to represent his constituents, and that is what he should do even if it goes against his personal beliefs. If elected representatives don’t do this, there is really no such thing as representative democracy.
Still others would suggest would suggest he should follow his conscience, irrespective of the will of his constituents.
Personally, I’m in the middle group (represent your constituents, regardless of your personal feelings), but a counter-question was put to me: what if your constituents are total douchebags? If you’re a representative of a district that is prime KKK territory, should you toe the racist, scumbag line? I think so, yes, because that is what the people who employed you were expecting, even if I find the notion very distasteful.
Anyway, it was something I felt was worth thinking about. I don’t have a conclusion and I can see weaknesses in each of the three positions. Are there more angles? I don’t know.
Something new to think about…