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Trustee vs. Delegate Models of Representation

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Updated: Jun 17th, 2022

Introduction

There are two models advanced to explain the issue of representation: trustee vs. delegate. Both of the terms are quite important to understand when discussing democracy and politics in general. In the essay below, the delegate and trustee models are compared and contrasted.

Trustee Model of Representation

A trustee model refers to a situation where people in a particular constituency choose their representative in parliament. It is a model of representative. The people entrust the person they choose with the duty of making significant decisions on their behalf.

As such, the representative acts as the trustee of the people in all their matters at both the local and national scene. He/she has a significant measure of autonomy. The elected trustee has the duty of deliberating and making decisions for the greater interest of the people while still putting the national interest first (Burke, 1996).

As such, the trustee has the mandate to make decisions on behalf of the people; he can then forego the immediate interest of his constituents in favor of the national interest. He does this bearing in mind that he is given the trusteeship because the voters believe that they collectively lack the necessary knowledge, which the trustee has. As such, they provide this power to the trustee to do it on their behalf.

Delegate Model of Representation

On the other hand, the delegate model of representation is understood as parallel to the trustee model of representation. While it gives the trustee all the rights and the powers to make the decisions on behalf of the people, delegation sees the representative as the mouthpiece of the people.

He has no right or power to decide on his own volition (Burke, 1996). As such, this, unlike the trustee model, is a representative democracy. In this model of representation, the people only elect the delegate to represent their constituencies in the parliament.

As we understand, a delegate is a person chosen to act/speak on behalf of the people in governance, trade unions among others. From the definition of a delegate as a person speaking on behalf of another party, we learn that unlike a trustee, a delegate only says or acts according to the instructions or interest of the party he is representing. He has no autonomy like a trustee (Burke, 1996).

On the issue of closing the enormous naval base in my small constituent, bearing in mind that the presidents’ defense spending reform is aimed at creating a more up-to-date national security budget, an objective that serves the broader national interest. As a senator of this small state, therefore, acting as the trustee of the people, I will aim at supporting the president’s initiative. This decision will be because though the closure of the naval base will have a short-term negative effect on the people. Economically, I will support the president’s decision.

This I will do putting in mind that the people might not understand the long-term benefit of having an up to date national security. As such, my chances of being re-elected will be compromised. Nevertheless, with the understanding of the longtime benefit of the president’s initiative, I will embark on civic education on my constituents on the long-term interests of the president’s initiative.

Delegate vs. Trustee: Conclusion

In conclusion, I decided to support the president’s initiative on the closing of military naval bases that no longer serve any crucial benefits. This is even though it may appear as a potential compromise to my re-election and that of the president.

On consultation with my party and the president, I will initiate other projects that will compensate for the loss of income caused by the closure of the naval base. This could be by setting a manufacturing plant in place of the naval base. This will bring back the people’s confidence in me as their trustee. This will also reassure my re-election and build confidence in me by my party members.

Reference

Burke, E. (1996). Speech to the Electors of Bristol in the Works of the Right Honorable Edmund Burke. New York: Oxford University Press.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Trustee vs. Delegate Models of Representation." June 17, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/trustee-vs-delegate-models-of-representation/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Trustee vs. Delegate Models of Representation'. 17 June.

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