Home School, St. Albans, VT
Article 20, Chapter I of the Vermont Constitution gives Vermonters the right to "instruct their Representatives." Section 16 of Chapter II of the Constitution requires Representatives to use the "best of [their] judgment and ability" in acting as "guardian[s] of the people." If you were a member of the Vermont House of Representatives and in your judgment a bill would benefit Vermont, but your constituents opposed it, how would you vote, and why?
I am a Member of the Vermont
Here I am a member of the Vermont House of Representatives. I chose to be a representative because I wanted to work to bring about change in my community and state. Recently, the Governor himself proposed a wonderful bill that I think would greatly benefit Vermont. However, I have heard from a great number of my constituents expressing their opposition to the bill. This is my dilemma.
If I were a member of the House of Representatives and in my judgment a bill would benefit Vermont, but my constituents opposed it, I would have to vote against the bill. Being elected to a public office is a long process. A campaign is usually undertaken, with the main focus of gaining the peoples’ trust. If elected, one takes an oath of office. In the oath one must solemnly swear that “you will not propose, or assent to any bill, vote or resolution which shall appear to you injurious to the people.” It also states that you “will in all things, conduct yourself as a faithful honest representative and ‘guardian’ of the people.” As a guardian of the people one must be a voice of the people; to be a voice one must listen to the people. However, it is not all about listening; one must also sometimes educate the people of the benefit of the bill. As a member of the Vermont House of Representatives I would represent over 3,500 people! Communication would be essential.
In order to ensure that the bill not be passed, not only would I have to vote no, but I would also have to try to convince my fellow representatives to vote no as well. I would then work with my constituents to incorporate their wishes into an amendment to the Governor’s proposal.
Working in such a manner would build trust with my constituents, which would be essential to being re-elected. Each biennium would afford me a greater opportunity to strengthen relationships with my fellow representatives. Hopefully, this might lead to bipartisanship, which would benefit the state by bringing out true votes, not votes along party lines.
We are privileged to live in a country, and state, where democracy rules. Having a representative democracy means that we count on our representatives to do just that - represent us and our wishes.
Now, I find myself at the end of another legislative session. The sessions are always too short. I have accomplished my goals and have been part of an important process. I have built important relationships. It’s a pity that I had to vote against the Governor’s bill, but it was the wish of my constituents. I return to my community ready to listen to the concerns of my constituents and will return to Montpelier to forge ahead in the next session – if it is their wish.