What representative democracy means

Letter to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Greek philosopher Plato said that a complete democracy would never work because we can't all gather at one place and vote on every issue that comes up.

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A complete democracy is a system in which every voter's individual voice and vote is recorded and counted. In the United States we have a "representative democracy," in which we elect people who are supposed to combine our voices and speak for us as a group. I have tried the American system, and so far it has worked, at least on the local level.

What I know from experience is that if I meet state Sen. Kim Elton, D-Juneau, on the ferry or street, or sent him an e-mail, he would respond and listen to my voice. He may not always vote just the way I would vote. He doesn't represent just me. He has to represent all of the people in his area. Real politics is reaching a compromise to do what is possible.

And so, as someone who watches politics rather closely, this fall I will vote again for Elton. I am just one person, as is each voter is in a representative democracy.

What we as voters have to do is to ignore all the "hoopla" over a candidate, the big signs and campaign contributions trying to persuade us how to vote. We need to look at what that person does on a daily basis to represent us. If we think that she or he truly represents us, we should vote for her or him. If they don't represent us as a group, or represent some special interest, they should not be elected. It is all pretty simple and clear.

For the many years I have lived in Juneau when Elton has been our state senator, I think that he truly represents his people. I am going to vote for him again. This is just one voter's opinion in a representative democracy.

Wally Olson

Auke Bay

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