Elected Leaders

I’ve been wondering about this a lot lately, as it’s especially relevant in this election season…
Are leaders who are elected to their positions supposed to act according to what the people who voted for them believe, or what they themselves believe?

To further flesh that out…
There are leaders who believe that they must represent the people who voted for them, no matter if they themselves do or do not believe the same thing. This is the representation theory of leadership. This means that if the leader changes his or her mind on a certain position after they are elected, and their new view does not coincide with the majority of the people, they are not free to act on this view.

There are other leaders who believe that the people voted for them, for their brains, and ability to make decisions, and that in so doing the people have entrusted themselves to their judgment. This is the trustee style of leadership. This means that if the leader changes his or her mind on a certain position after they are elected, they are free to act in accordance with their new view.

As leaders, ought we to adopt a representation or a trustee approach to leadership? Which is most appropriate for the leaders we will be electing in less than a week?

3 Responses to “Elected Leaders”

  1.   llawson Says:

    I am inclined to agree more with the representation theory of leadership. Especially with the upcoming election, we have seen leaders make a lot of promises regarding their views on specific stances on quite a few hot button topics. If I were to vote for the leader I thought best fit my views and once that leader was elected he (or she in other cases) decided to change their mind on some of these major points, I would betrayed if that leader were to change their mind – essentially false advertising in my opinion. Had I known that they would have made that change, I may not have voted for them. For me, this mainly applies to social issues. In the realm of economic and defense issues, I believe there is room for more flexibility as the initial plan may not work and changes need to be made, as the economy and foreign affairs are constantly changing. One thing is for certain, though – leaders are meant to be the voice of the people!

  2.   Roger Dean Says:

    This is very interesting. In our representative democracy of government, we elect people through the representation approach. However, that mainly focuses on the Congress. In a Presidential election, we have a combination of the two. A majority of the country is going to vote for someone who agrees with their views but in the end, they just want a good leader. I feel that President Obama is the best leader and I agree with him on most issues. It will be easy for me to vote for him in both approaches, but I think the representation approach is more effective.

  3.   cshuler Says:

    Although it’s a bit late to be commenting on this post, it caught my eye now that the election process is over and all eyes are truly on our returning President. This is also extremely interesting in relation to the projected results of the election last night through the fact that our country is more divided than ever. This fact alone raises questions of how our President is to respond to these divisions and to seek out what is truly best for our country when such disagreement exists. With each of the theories you presented I feel that a sort of balance must be reached between the two due to the tumultuous nature of our nation and economy at this particular time.

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