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Rep. Brian Baird is a Democrat from Washington, who has opposed the Iraq War from the beginning, and who has been to Iraq several times since the war began, a few months ago switched to being in favor of keeping troops in Iraq.

He is still against us having gone in, but now that we are there and he has had a chance to see what is going on firsthand, he thinks moving forward the best course is to remain in Iraq for now.

Of course, this made many Democrats go nuts.

But what struck me was this line in an August article about it:

"We don't care what your convictions are," said Jan Lustig of Vancouver. "You're here to represent us."

Lustig added, "You're not representing us with this stance."

To that, Baird quietly replied, "I understand."

I understand too. I understand his emotion and I understand his view.

However, that's not to say I think it is rational. I think representative democracy cannot work as Mr. Lustig wants it to. It never has worked that way, and there's no way it can, and even if it could, we shouldn't want it to.

How is Baird even to know whether or not he is representing his constituents? Hold an ... election? Yep, we do that, every two years. Other than that, he can't really know for sure.

But more importantly, he shouldn't really care. He should want to know what they think, but at the end of the day, no, a thousand times no, he must follow his own convictions. As Edmund Burke said, "Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion." Burke wasn't trying to say "representatives are smarter or better than you are." He was saying that you voted for him not just because you agreed with him, but because you trusted his judgment, and further, that he has spent a lot more time and thought and study on the issues than the overwhelming majority of his constituents: this is his job, after all. It's why we HAVE representatives.

If you want a representative to just slavishly follow what you think he should do, then run for office yourself. That's not the system we've got going here.

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