In what ways does having a part-time legislative body improve representation?

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scarletpimpernel's profile pic

scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

A benefit of having a part-time legislature is that politicians would no longer be only that--politicians. Unless legislators were from extremely wealthy families, they would have to play a significant, constant role in whatever their original career is. While many politicians do continue their businesses while serving in Congress, many of them simply do not have time as full-timers to be fully engaged in their previous careers. This hurts the nation in a couple of ways. First a legislature consisting of full-time politicians becomes detached from what it actually means to run a business, teach, serve as an attorney, practice medicine, etc., and therefore, has difficulty creating and passing laws that are practical and beneficial to the majority of Americans. A more local example of this is when teachers leave the classroom to take on consulting jobs or to work at the district or state level. While there are exceptions, those former teachers unfortunately begin to forget what it is like to be in the classroom on a daily basis andcreate policies or purchase programs/equipment that are not practical or beneficial to teachers and students (this pattern repeats itself in many careers outside of government and education).

Secondly, many of our current legislators seem to have forgotten that they are public servants. After only a brief term in Congress, many feel entitled to their positions and neglect the original intention of providing a service for not only their constituents but also for their nation. Perhaps if their political responsibilities were part time, it would be easier for them to view their role more as a volunteer rather than as a bureaucrat.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The idea behind this is pretty much the idea that "the government is best which governs least."  In today's atmosphere, it is conservatives who would think that a part-time legislature improves representation.  There are two main reasons for this:

  • Perhaps the less important reason is that the legislators would stay closer to the people.  They would be regular people with regular jobs.  This would mean that they would be more in touch with the needs of the public.
  • A more important idea (at least today) is that a full-time legislature would feel obligated to do more things.  Making laws would be their full-time job and so they would come up with too many new and harmful laws.  So having a part-time legislature would prevent big government.

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