The bulk of this chapter is taken up with measures that will enable people to re-engage with representative politics. The divide between professional politicians and amateur voters is too great, and we need reforms that will give amateurs greater confidence in systems of representation and in their capacity to exercise influence through them. Representation involves an active exchange between citizen and representative.2 Too often our thinking has been clouded by the minimalist understanding of representation outlined in Chapter 9, whereby all that matters for the citizen is the act of choosing their representative: once chosen, the representative acts and citizens are passive. But it should not be assumed that citizens are mere passive players. As David Plotke suggests, the divide between representative and participative democracy is not as great as some believe. If representation is going to be meaningful and powerful – to do its democratic job – it requires a sustained connection between the representative and those who are represented. Citizens should have the capacity for an active exchange with their representative, not just as supplicants looking for a helping hand to cope with a maze of government policies and services but as constituents whose interests the representative is there to represent.
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