My representative in the House of Representatives is Jaime Herrera Beutler. Rep. Beutler is a Republican, a member of the House Committee on Appropriations and the House Committee on Small Business. She has voted down the Republican party line 91% of the time and has abstained from voting entirely 28% of the time (OpenCongress, 2014). In the 2013-2014 election cycle, she received approximately $1,741,301 in fundraising donations for her campaign. Those donations consisted of small individual contributions (18%), large individual contributions (49%) and Political Action Campaign contributions (33%). Many of these individual donations appear to be from corporations (Open Secrets, 2014).
It may be obvious to state, but "donors can throw around a lot of weight in elections" (Mayhew, 2011). A representative usually looks after their campaign contributors first and foremost. This is because monetary support to these representatives comes at a price. Big donors expect and demand that the representative take an active role in looking out for their interests. Rep. Beutler will obviously be subject to these corporate forces during her tenure as an elected representative. Rep. Beutler's position is highly contested, because she is a Republican is a very blue state; even members of the Republican party have been running against her.
"To win an election, a House candidate has to raise an average of $1.3 million in campaign funds- that's $2,500 every working day for an entire two-year term" (Tikkun, 2008). I would argue that her corporate donations make her less likely to concern herself with the public interest and more likely to pay back her donors. A good way to illustrate our current political situation would be to say, "we, as citizens, have handed special interests the remote control, forcing our potential leaders to grovel before PAC leaders and lobbyists to raise the funds needed to win elections" (Tikkun, 2008). Additionally, Rep. Beutler supported the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows American citizens to be indefinitely detained, imprisoned and even assassinated without being charged/convicted of a crime. It's doubtful that the average citizen in Rep. Beutler's district would agree with these tactics being used against American citizens. With that said, it is unlikely that Rep. Beutler could be considered in step with her constituency.
As previously mentioned Rep. Beutler has voted with Republicans 91% of the time. Considering the fact that she is in a historically Democrat district, it is doubtful that her constituency would agree with her actions; although, she may justify herself by proclaiming that her mere election was the constituency demanding a depart from Democratic policy. In either case, continuing to vote down any party line is a ruinous path to take. Each representative must continue to analyze how the laws will affect their specific community and it is unlikely that what is good for one community will be good for all.
Lastly, and most importantly, Rep. Beutler has abstained from voting 28% of the time! This number is outrageous! More than a quarter of the time Rep. Beutler comes to work, she fails to do her job. Does she not have an opinion on these matters? Is she afraid of how she will look? Or does she simply not have mental capacity to participate in a vote 28% of the time? It is unfathomable that a representative that fails to do their job more than a quarter of the time could be considered an effective member of Congress. If this were the private sector, any such person that had similar performance would be fired. Only time will tell if Rep. Beutler will see the same results, but she definitely appears to warrant them.
OpenCongress (2014). Retrieved from http://www.opencongress.org
Open Secrets (2014). Retrieved from https://www.opensecrets.org
Mayhew, D. R. (2011). Constituency representation in congress: The view from capitol hill. Political Science Quarterly, 126(3), 510-511. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/902757682?accountid=32521
Should outsiders' money influence elections? (2008, Nov). Tikkun, 23, 6. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/212214593?accountid=32521