What Does Representative Government Mean?
After such an example, it can not be said that indirect popular election is never advantageous. But those conditions are hardly to be obtained in practice except in a federal government like that of the United States, where the election can be intrusted to local bodies whose other functions extend to the most important concerns of the nation. The only bodies in any analogous position which exist, or are likely to exist, in this country, are the municipalities, or any other boards which have been or may be created for similar local purposes.
It was not by any change in the distribution of material interests, but by the spread of moral convictions, that negro slavery has been put an end to in the British Empire and elsewhere. The serfs in Russia owe their emancipation, if not to a sentiment of duty, at least to the growth of a more enlightened opinion respecting the true interest of the state. It is what men think that determines how they act; and though the persuasions and convictions of average men are in a much greater degree determined by their personal position than by reason, no little power is exercised over them by the persuasions and convictions of those whose personal position is different, and by the united authority of the instructed. When, therefore, the instructed in general can be brought to recognize one social arrangement, or political or other institution, as good, and another as bad—one as desirable, another as condemnable, very much has been done towards giving to the one, or withdrawing from the other, that preponderance of social force which enables it to subsist. And the maxim, that the government of a country is what the social forces in existence compel it to be, is true only in the sense in which it favors, instead of discouraging, the attempt to exercise, among all forms of government practicable in the existing condition of society, a rational choice. To decide this question, it is essential to consider what is the comparative position of the central and the local authorities as capacity for the work, and security against negligence or abuse.
If this were really the case, people would no more think of giving the suffrage to a man who could not read, than of giving it to a child who could not speak; and it would not be society that would exclude him, but his own laziness. When society has not performed its duty by rendering this amount of instruction accessible to all, there is some hardship in the case, but it is a hardship that ought to be borne. If society has neglected to discharge two solemn obligations, the more important and more fundamental of the two must be fulfilled first; universal teaching must precede universal enfranchisement. No one but those in whom an à prioritheory has silenced common sense will maintain that power over others, over the whole community, should be imparted to people who have not acquired the commonest and most essential requisities for taking care of themselves—for pursuing intelligently their own interests, and those of the persons most nearly allied to them. It would be eminently desirable that other things besides reading, writing, and arithmetic could be made necessary to the suffrage; that some knowledge of the conformation of the earth, its natural and political divisions, the elements of general history, and of the history and institutions of their own country, could be required from all electors.
“Large state” proposal for the new constitution, calling for proportional representation in both houses of a bicameral Congress. The plan favored larger states and thus prompted smaller states to come back with their own plan for apportioning representation. Property owners who were qualified to vote elected the lower houses in royal colonies’ legislatures. Assess the representative by the accuracy of the resemblance between the representative and the represented. Representatives are assessed by the degree of acceptance that the representative has among the represented.
It would exclude mere ignorance and incapacity; it would compel youths of family to start in the race with the same amount of instruction and ability as other people; the stupidest son could not be put into the Indian service, as he can be into the Church; but there would be nothing to prevent undue preference afterwards. No longer, all equally unknown and unheard of by the arbiter of their lot, a portion of the service would be personally, and a still greater number politically, in close relation with him. Members of certain families, and of the higher classes and influential connections generally, would rise more rapidly than their competitors, and be often kept in situations for which they were unfit, or placed in those for which others were fitter. The same influences would be brought into play which affect promotions in the army; and those alone, if such miracles of simplicity there be, who believe that these are impartial, would expect impartiality in those of India.
This leads to a grudging appreciation of liberalism as a potential source for insight into the politics of pluralistic associational life. The problems of coordination, institutional design, and justification which liberal political theory dwells at length on are unavoidable in any normatively persuasive and empirically grounded critical theory of democracy. This shift of attention to the complex spaces and scales through which democratic politics operates is related to a second aspect of research on alternative democratic spaces in geography.