When people use the term, they generally mean:

Representative democracy is a variety of democracy founded on the principle of elected people representing a group of people, as opposed to direct democracy. [Wikipedia]

Is the goal for each representative to vote the way that the people they represent would vote if they had the time/energy/education to study the issue, or the way that they feel is "better"?

Additionally, is their duty primarily to those that elected them, or to the country as a whole (ex. Does the congressman from Alabama have an obligation to do what is best for the country or for his state should there be a conflict)?

closed as not constructive by Robert Cartaino Jan 23 '13 at 14:29

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  • I really like this question, especially the latter part about state representatives! The first question could certainly be more broad than the United Sates, but it looks like you may be interested in the US specifically based on the second question. If so, you might want to add the united-states tag. – Michael Kingsmill Jan 23 '13 at 13:55
  • It's not a bad question, but seems a very poor fit for StackExchange. There's no "correct" answer - any answer is just an opinion and equally correct. – user4012 Jan 23 '13 at 14:00
  • Also, what/who is the arbiter of "what's best for the country"? on any given topic, 40-50% of population is more likely than not to disagree with the other 60-50% that two diametrally opposite things are "best for the country", in case of USA. – user4012 Jan 23 '13 at 14:03
  • 1
    This is a fundamentally broad topic that has been discussed and debated for millennia. But this question can only be discussed, not answered, per se. These type of talking-points and discussion questions are better asked in a discussion forum or chat room. It's an interesting questions; it's just not well-suited to this site. – Robert Cartaino Jan 23 '13 at 14:28