Populism, Elitism and Private Reason

Populists claim that representatives represent the people by complying with their preferences and judgments. Elitists, by contrast, argue that representatives are bound to decide correctly. This Article argues that the populist and elitist views of representation are both false: representation indeed requires the representative to endorse the perspective of the represented. But, often endorsing the perspective of the represented requires representatives to act against the actual convictions of the represented. To look at the world 'from the perspective of the represented,' the representative’s decisions ought to satisfy the condition of justifiability-to the represented, namely, they must rest on reasoning that is accessible to the represented as she actually is. This understanding of representation implies that private reason has important role to play in democratic politics: the constituency’s basic convictions should be taken into account in the reasoning of the representatives.