“What might Abraham Kuyper teach us as Americans prepare to go to the polls next year?” asks David T. Koyzis in this week’s Acton Commentary. “I believe that he can help us to vote more intelligently by clarifying the true nature of representation in a democratic political community.”
Kuyper treated representation in Ons Program [Our Program] published in 1879 in the platform of the newly established Anti-Revolutionary Party in the Netherlands. The delegate conception he titled the “imperative mandate,” in which a member of the States General acts “in keeping with what the voters have ordered and mandated him.” By contrast, the “trusted man” governs “without any tie to the voters” and keeps the electorate in a permanent state of immaturity, much as a lord relates paternalistically to the serfs on a feudal estate.
Kuyper believed that neither of these is adequate for understanding the task of representation. Better, he argued, that a member of parliament be a “bearer of a principle” with a “moral bond” to the electorate.
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