Precinct Chair: A Discussion of Representation

Last week at the GOP caucus I was elected as the precinct chairman of Provo’s Precinct 17. Since then I have been nearly inundated with advice from various sources on what “representation” means. What do representatives actually represent? Do representatives represent interests, groups, individuals, institutions, or merely the majority? The most popular consideration is that representation is merely the parroting of the majority’s expressed opinion and/or interest. This consideration, however, is quite insufficient. Representation, to be just, uniform, and applicable to all mankind must represent something innate or common among all people… Representation, then, must represent an individual’s natural, inherent, and human rights.

Problems with Mere Majority Representation

Representatives, in our Constitutional Republic, cannot merely parrot and support what their constituents or community want them to, for such a system is nothing more than a Representative Democracy that violates our Constitutional Republic (something that I have already argued against here). If only the majority’s voice is “represented,” then there is a large group of people who are, by definition (and practice), not represented. Such a system – based only on a majority’s consent – is not just, nor does it apply to all mankind.

When the majority’s voice is all that is necessary, voting is necessarily an act of war. Voter turns against voter, as each seeks to find themself in the majority. There is no consolation on the losing side. The minority, in such a system, is not represented – either in interest or rights, for the only determination was a majority’s consent. The minority’s only safeguard is necessarily social convention. In other words, only the majority’s empathy, norm, and conventional mercy is what saves the minority from an onslaught of political and social oppression.

The Solution

In a Democracy there is no filter or protection that the minority can appeal to except the majority’s benevolence. When only a majority’s consent, will, or opinion is necessary for legitimate action, then even the law itself is not a sure foundation for appeal – because it is the majority that instituted the law and the majority who can – upon their consent, will, or opinion – remove said law. We do not often see it this way, but when a majority’s opinion is all that we look for to establish legitimate representative action this is what is happening.

Representatives, to represent all people, must represent something common to all people. Only then can a representative truly represent not only those who voted for them but also those who did not. In remaining consistent to the principles embodied in the proper role of government (also read concerning Benson’s agreement of Locke and Bastiat here), a representative cannot merely appeal to the voice of the people – he must look to an eternal,  natural, and moral standard outside of the majority’s purview.

When the majority desires to oppress the minority, it is the representative’s duty and responsibility to stand for the rights of all mankind – not just the majority. If the majority desires to enslave the minority in any possible fashion, the representative has a moral duty to appeal to a higher principle than a mere majority’s consent to secure and promote the rights of all mankind. That principle must support and maintain the rights and privileges of all mankind, for, as Latter-day scripture states,

And now, verily I say unto you concerning the laws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them.

And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me (D&C 98:4-5; emphasis added).

Only laws that maintain the inherent rights and privileges of all mankind are just. The only way to truly assert this meaningfully is to understand that our representatives must also represent all of their constituents (i.e. the people who voted for them, and those who did not) and not just a select few.

As Such…

As a precinct chair from Utah County, I am working with fellow precinct leaders who are very good people who are as concerned as I about following the views and opinions of those we represent. We, as a leadership, must realize too that we not only represent the will and opinion of those who voted for us into this Party position, but we also represent the natural, inalienable, and human rights of those who did not vote for us as we vet and pick a Party candidate for general election – for we were not elected by unanimous consent of every constituent in our Party (let alone our entire precinct). There are others whose views are not in line with our own. We cannot help this. However, if we are only concerned about those who elected us, we will not be good stewards of the position and responsibilities entrusted us.

For myself, I will represent my own precinct as closely to the will and voice of all people as I can. However, more importantly, just as I promised in my “campaign speeches” (all 4 minutes of them), I will adhere strongly to the proper role of government. I place the universal and inherent natural rights of all people above a majority’s consent and opinion, for representative and government action in violation of natural rights constitutes usurpation and tyranny. Therefore, I will work as strenuously as my time permits to vet the candidates’ views that are most closely aligned to the desires and interests of those around me, and, ultimately, I will choose, to the absolute best of my ability, the candidate who most closely aligns with the proper role of government.

If the majority  of those who elected me desire a candidate that will, as I have studied it, jeopardize the liberty of the minority (maybe, even, those who did not elect me), I cannot in good conscience follow the will of the voice of the people. My first appeal is to the principle of the inherent and universal natural rights of all mankind first and to the voice of the people second. This is, as the Founders desired, the principle and foundation of American Constitutionalism, as well as the best way to keep consistency within Party politics.


Representatives do not have any rights in their position, they have specific duties. These duties are delegated by the people to act in their name. No individual can give to another an authority or duty that they do not have themselves, and they can only grant to their representative what they have power to act in themselves. Many Founders argued that any action performed by a representative beyond this principle constituted usurpation and tyranny. If I were merely to vote for a candidate in accordance with the voice of the people, but that voice desired something beyond what they can naturally (thus, morally and lawfully) delegate to me, then I become an accomplice to the degradation of my country, the Party or group to which I belong, and the violation of true representation.

Representatives, whether they are a new precinct chair/delegate of a particular Party (like myself) or a senior federal Senator (like Senator Orrin Hatch), must represent something inherent in all of their constituencies and not just in the interests of various individuals or parties who elected them. Representatives must vet the issues, candidates, and laws in accordance to the ultimate source of authority and power (i.e. the individual who has inalienable rights, and not the government that represents these rights through enumerated duties), and then act according to the voice of the people. This is what I will do to the best of my own ability, and I urge all to hold their representatives – at whatever level of representation they operate – to the same principle.


  • Matthew Carling

    Shiloh nailed it! Delegates should first protect the inalienable rights of their neighbors by selecting a representative that will do the same in the Legislature. A great representative represents “all men” within a jurisdiction. Excellent read.

  • Phill Wright Vice Chair DCRP

    You nailed it to the door! As Martin Luther would have said. Thanks for your thoughtful and well written comments. A must read for every delegate.

    • Shiloh

      Because there is a difference between Democracy (a political system, complete with its own premises and axioms for existence) and the democratic method (a process).

      We may elect our representatives through a particular process (e.g. a democratic vote), but “voice of the people” systems are not necessarily and inherently Democracies.

      The majority may select a representative, it is true (and this is perfectly fine), but a representative must represent something common with all people (even the minority). This is how our Republic differs from a Democracy, in that the majority is checked by certain limits. If the positive law were the only limit to check a majority’s oppression of the minority, then there is no real protection because the positive law was instituted and can be repealed by the majority. This check — i.e. this moral and separate standard — must exist separate from the majority’s persuasion and influence.

      In the Book of Mormon such a system was instituted. The “voice of the people,” could choose themselves Judges, but they must follow the standard “according tot he laws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord” (Mosiah 29:25). The majority (i.e. “voice of the people”) had to check themselves against the Lord’s standard.

      The Founders of this country, in philosophical speech, made this standard the “natural law.” There is a large history that we can talk about concerning how Newtonian Physics deified the “laws of nature” and the “natural law,” but, suffice it to say, this was the outside standard and measure wherein the majority (i.e. the democratic method) was to check itself.

      Our representatives can legitimately represent *all* mankind, even if they are chosen by a majority — if-and-only-if they representative actually represents something common to all mankind. For our country, this common denominator was the “inalienable rights” of all mankind.