What is Political Representation? - Paper Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1695 Words
Date:  2022-04-04


Over the years, many scholars, politicians, researchers, and the commons have struggled to put definite and particular meaning to the definition of the term political representation. Extensive research and literature have surfaced to provide a clear meaning to this elusive concept. On the surface of it and in simple terms, political representation entails standing in for a group of persons for a given period of time. It entails representative democracies in which the voted speak on behalf of their constituents. However, far from it, political representation varies a great deal and often depends on institutional settings of that particular democracy in place. At the same time, the theoretical backbone of any political representation depends on the institutions, persons, relations with the common people, and the policy of representation (Douzet et al 25). In whichever capacity and seat a representative is elected, the political system in place becomes the determining factor on how the representation is undertaken.

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Since political representation is derived from democratic ideals, it has come under heavy scrutiny with Populism gradually arising to solve the many challenges posed by the crisis fronted by the political changes currently being observed. Ever since the beginning of modern politics speaking and standing in for groups of people has seen the success of people's sovereignty in which practical solutions are offered and policies drafted for the benefit of the voters. Political representation is, therefore, a means of giving people a voice on how they are ruled, governed, and how democratic principles are spelled out (Rarick 56). While different countries and states have their own setup and political arrangement of representation, the majority of these nations involve electing parties that front candidates for representative seats. The model of representation is put in such a way that the person elected is deemed accountable for all leadership and democratic ideals within the state in question. It thus means that representatives may have different roles and political mandate depending on the electoral system in addition to the representative orientation (Vechten 176). In the majority of political systems, representatives are often liable to represent the local voter within the district in relation to the proportion of the political system in place.

Political representation is thus by far the central aspect of liberal democracy and forms the bottom line of the relationship between the government and the people. According to Rarick (78) representation can also be defined broadly as the act or character whereby a person is vested with political and public functions in which the said functions have both subjective and objective significance. Elections form the main link that establishes the needs of the people and their representatives in addition to policies, governance, and decisions undertaken by all the arms of government Douzet et al (23). Within the American democracy, representation was characterized by various approaches that included direct democracy, commercial interest, and theological conservatives. Over time and in the history of the United States, representation opened up in which a wider suffrage, direct and indirect elections, several administrative responsibilities, precise tenure in office, constitutional conventions, and legislative details formed the core aspect of political representation. Mature democracy in the United States has seen representation satisfy social solidarity in addition to the rise of independent institutions for the purpose of community interests.

Political Developments in the US

Political developments in the United States have introduced complex social and community interests that have changed representation within the majority of political institutions in California. The government of California comprises of the governor, Assembly Speaker, Minority Leaders, Senate Minority Leader, and Senate president pro tempore. The above representatives and leaders often meet to draft the States bills and in many ways have a tremendous influence on caucus members (Lustig 98). California remains the most populated State in the United States and the majority of policies, legislation enacted often have far-reaching significant influence at the national stage politically, socially, and financially. It has the largest delegation to Congress in addition to two senators and 53 representatives. The Republican Party and the Democratic Party form the major political parties represented in the US Congress and State Legislature. Other parties that qualify for the ballot for representation include Peace and Freedom Party, Libertarian Party, American Independent Party, and the Green Party. As at Dec 2016, California had a record-breaking registered voter totaling to 19.4 million with attention shifting to new eligible voters in the larger populous state (Douzet et al 45). Besides the legislature, the judiciary, and special interest groups play a significant role in politics of the state that include litigation, media advertisement, lobbying, and political shapeups that make up significant political ideals of the State. At the same time, the California Supreme Court stands out as the most active in setting civil liberties, criminal justice, in addition to consumer protection that covers the populous state.

According to the current California Electoral System, winners of elective posts take it all (whereby the highest vote equals to 100 percent of the voting public) with the majority of minorities, women, and smaller parties end up with little or no representation at all. For example, according to Douzet et al (34), while the Latinos make up over 39 percent of the population of California, they are underrepresented in all levels of both the Legislature and Congress. Of particular interest, within the local government, the Latinos make up only 10 percent. At the state Senate, they only make up 23.8 percent. At the City Council, they make up only 15 percent (Williams, Joseph, and Bizup 153). Despite their expanding population, they have low representation in the majority of the political offices. Over the years, California has continued to suffer from a crisis of political representation since the electoral system does not give representation to eligible voters that comprise majority and minority constituencies. For example, without resolving the California Voting Rights Act blocs of voters that represent multiple seats are never represented. At the same time, women and interest epical groups have little representation under the Top Two System in which for example only 2.5 percent voted in the primary elections of 2012 (Lustig 118). With such a trend, representations in political institutions fail to accomplish its goal with minimal diversity in representation.


Under the current electoral system, political parties and incumbents have the upper hand in determining and drawing up district lines a situation that in many ways creates a disadvantage for the minority groups. At the same time with the State's citizen-based redistricting, residential patterns exclude proper representation made worse by the winner take all and single seat model. The above phenomenon continues to make the situation worse for the state as it does not provide for proportional representation in the legislature, special interest groups, executive branches, and judicial branch (Rarick 167). California electoral system does not combine issue based representative and geographical representation that is appropriate for state and federal legislative organs. For example, in the legislature, not every political grouping is represented for an election won by a representative. Such a scenario weakens representation thus reduces the strength of accountability and institution. However, the major problem is occasioned by a large number of grouping within the expansive state within a short period of time.

Other Representations

Besides the legislature, political parties, the judiciary, and interest groups form the core of representation within California. The above grouping makes up representations for groups within the state and undertakes critical functions on behalf of the voters. For example, despite the large representation, the two senators elected on a 6 term limit represent the citizens in the United States Senate while the 53 representatives represent the people in the United States House of Representative (Lustig 167). Over the years, the two representations have played a key role in the legislative agenda of the state initiating and bringing forth fundamental changes and reforms to the country and the state in particular. According to Rarick (178), due to its large number of representation, the United States Senate and the House of Representatives have been a core center of political playing field not only for the people of California but also for the entire United States. Currently, the two political offices are held by Senior Senator Dianne Feinstein and Junior Senator Kamala Harris both of the Democratic Party. At the same time, the 53 representatives in the House of Representatives represent districts as outlined in the States district mapping. Despite its large mapping, the Congressmen/Congresswomen have taken a central role in shaping the legislative agenda of the state in addition to key development agendas.

In addition to political representation, the people of California have representation in interest groups, administrative justice groupings, and other social forums that remain key players in the political and social administrative aspects of the state (Vechten 232). However, as discussed above, due to the large population of the state, these representations have in many ways fallen short in meeting the social, political and economic demands of both the majority and minority groupings. According to proposals initiated and spearheaded by political parties in addition to interest groups, the winner takes it all system does not meet the needs of the locals and a "proportionate representation" is currently being initiated as the best alternative.


With the proportionate representation, minority groups, special interest groups, and the larger population of the state will have equal representation in both political and special groupings. At the same time, initiatives to shorten legislative periods and allow representatives to spend more time with their voters are seen as a way of strengthening community ties. At the same time, a move to the one house legislation may also reduce district size and restructure legislative performance. While such measures are aimed at increasing representation, they are at the same time aimed at strengthening representative bodies in addition to increasing accountability, institutional relevance, and memory.

Works Cited

Douzet, Frederick, Kousser, Thad and Miller, Kenneth P. The New Political Geography of California. 4th Edition. CQ Press. 2016. Print

Lustig, Jeffrey R. Remaking California: Reclaiming the Public Good. Berkeley CA: Heyday Books. 2010. Print

Rarick, Ethan. Governing California. 3rd Ed. Berkeley, CA: Institute of Governmental Studies Press. 2008. Print

Vechten, Renee B. Van. California Politics: A Primer. 4th Ed. CQ Press. 2016. Print

Williams, Joseph M., and Bizup, Joseph. Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace. 5th Edition. NY: Pearson. 2014. Print.

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What is Political Representation? - Paper Example. (2022, Apr 04). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/what-is-political-representation-paper-example

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