Electoral mandates and organizational charters as prompts for policymaking

The Verdict of the People 1854–1855

The Verdict of the People 1854–1855[i]



  1. Unlike organizations’ reliance on charters to accomplish aims, elected state-level policymaking bodies formulate policy based on mandate of the electorate.
  2. A seminal 1969 work (updated in 1979) postulates organized groups have capacity to convince policymakers to “(assume) responsibility for programs sought by interests.” The author contends, “(The federal government) has become a state whose government maintains a steadfast position that any institution large enough to be a significant factor in the community may have its stability underwritten…”[ii]
  3. What role does personal principles or values play in policymakers’ decisionmaking?

‘Well-considered’ policy.

These entries discuss organizations’ responses to policymakers’ proposals, namely acceptance or by seeking to modify policymakers’ aims or through opposition based on organizational charters or other foundational documents. [iii]

This writer contends the “space” or, more aptly, the “tension,” between policymakers’ aims and organizations’ raison d’être, is the fulcrum by which public policy is made or, in the case of agency regulations, refined. That well-considered public policy will result in this process is open to interpretation but considered normative,[iv] given advocacy may be seen as “not mainly a struggle among competing interests over highly collective goods. Rather, it’s the public provision of private goods.” [v] And more to the point, “this shift in understanding influences our perception of the strengths and weaknesses of American democracy,” a point Lowi makes. “ [vi]

The electorate, policymakers and clientele memberships.

No matter, none other than an elected state level policymaker points out, in response to the two blog entries, policymakers, unlike organizations, are empowered by the electorate to exercise authority through adoption of rules, regulations, statutes, given the vantage of a 30,000 foot, 360 stance, although policymakers’ actions may greatly impact the “ground-level,” including classrooms, work sites, commerce and regulated ventures.[vii]

Accordingly, the “tension” described above may be expressed differently: how do policymakers “balance” mandates of the electorate with organizational or client pressures, given that segments of the electorate may be members of clientele groups or associations from farmers (West Virginia Farm Bureau) to budding businesspersons (Young Entrepreneurs), manufacturers (West Virginia Manufacturers), to those who support various causes from the ACLU West Virginia to  the National Rifle Association (NRA).[viii]

Consider these responses:

  • “When citizens can associate only in certain cases, they regard association as a rare and singular process, and they hardly think of it. When you allow (citizens) to associate freely in everything, they end up seeing in association the universal and, so to speak, unique means that men can use to attain the various ends they propose. Each new need immediately awakens the idea of association…” – [ix]
  • “In effect, to follow, not to force the public inclination; to give a direction, a form, a technical dress, and a specific sanction, to the general sense of community, is the true end of (policymakers).” – Edmund Burke. [x]
  • “A government is invigorated when each of us is willing to participate in sharing the future of this nation.” – Barbara Jordan. [xi]
  • “(The federal government) has become a state whose government maintains a steadfast position that any institution large enough to be a significant factor in the community may have its stability underwritten…”[xii]


 In camera[xiii] and  legislative process considerations.


Does policy emerge from largely private (as in camera can be defined),[xiv] settings, meaning the legislative process is essentially scripted or dictated “behind the scenes?”


Whether this observation, routinely proffered by the news media and, to use an archaic term, “goo-goos,”[xv] is true, partly true, partly true/partly false,  or patently untrue, advocacy in camera assuredly occurs through policymakers’ assent. Indeed, organizational advocates hope to secure favorable access for their clients, but with the routine disclaimer access alone doesn’t always convert into aspirational policies, rules, regulations or statutes. And, for those organizations who enlist support to advocates, advocacy is for the fearless – that is, those who can traverse marble halls, navigating the complexities of process, including timelines, meetings, public hearings and numerous other points of engagement client advocacy requires.


Policymaking process is critical:


  • Most aspects of the formal policymaking process occur in public, including votes. (There are, of course, caucuses or other executive or closed sessions or deliberations.)
  • Policymakers need sponsors, sponsors need policymakers. “Sponsors” include the electorate (or at least, in the sense of elected policymakers, voters or blocs of loyalist voters )[xvi]  as well as segments of the electorate represented by organizational advocates. Organizations provide campaign funds support to elect policymakers. Policymakers, especially elected policymakers, develop law, rules, regulations, through a formalized process with (or without) input from a citizen, the citizenry, or organizations whose clientele includes segments of the electorate. According to current research, policymakers “balance” both “predictive modeling” and “deservingness” – no small feat, with citizens and organizational advocates making pitches for both.[xvii]


Questions regarding alignment to policymakers’ aims.


The degree to which an organization is successful in securing policymakers’ use of their organizational input depends on some alignment with policymakers’ aims, which may be contrary to organizational goals and objectives.


  • Should the will of the electorate (often expressed as a mandate or mandates) serve as the preeminent policymaking prompt or groupings of the electorate represented by organizations?
  • Should policymakers base decisionmaking on their individual values or prompts, which may be contrary to the perceived electorate’s will or that of organized constituents comprising segments of the electorate?

An ages-old question.

If policymaking amounted to conversion of data, facts, information organizations provide, would decisionmaking by  Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) suffice? Nope. Think juries.[xviii] Policymakers and organizations vie to interpret information conveyed, especially impact on clientele and/or the electorate, although policymakers may ignore the tidied rationality organizational (or agencies’) information or public sentiments proffer. [xix]

In the second blog, we discussed how the “sky,”  which “holds” the weather, provides policymakers an  “elevational” domain.[xx] Organizations may embrace or resist policymakers’ aims, beefing up organizational weatherproofing. [xxi]

Given non-negotiables, can organizations align goals with emergent policymakers’ aims?

Can organizations use accorded missional goals and objectives to imprint or lay claim to aspects of newly evocated truths, taking rightful risks, even  promoting innovation and creativity?

The summative blog entry related to this topic includes this writer’s “baker’s dozen” strategies to both promote organizational advocacy without displacing non-negotiables.

[i] George Caleb Bingham (1811 –1879), U.S. artist, soldier and politician known in his lifetime as “the Missouri Artist.” His paintings of American frontier life along the Missouri River exemplify the “Luminist” style. “The Verdict of the People” is the last painting of three in Bingham’s “Election Series.”  This painting depicts the end of the story represented in the series by showing the electoral process’s climax and the announcement of the election results. Bingham depicts a densely crowded scene conveying the diversity of the voting populace in detail. “The Verdict of the People” shows the men gathered in the street to express both triumph and disappointment in the election results. Women who were not yet allowed to vote in Bingham’s time look on from a balcony in the top right. Comedic elements and different narrative details have been included in the composition to appealed to the broader American national interest in life on the frontier. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Caleb_Bingham#/media/File:George_Caleb_Bingham_-_The_Verdict_of_the_People.jpg

[ii] The End of Liberalism: The Second Republic of the United States, 2nd ed. By Theodore J. Lowi. (New York: W.W. Norton, 1979. P. 280).

[iii] https://chopwoodcarrywaterllc.com/index.php/2023/11/27/state-level-policymaking-bodies-and-organizations-weather-climate-analogies-relating-to-policy-determination/ and https://chopwoodcarrywaterllc.com/index.php/2023/11/01/chop-wood-carry-water-2/, respectively.

[iv] “The difference between a politician and a statesman is that a politician thinks about the next election while the statesman thinks about the next generation.” – James Freeman Clarke. A recent newspaper opinion post stated, “We have no shortage of politics these days, but statesmanship is harder to find than a total eclipse of the sun. Why? Possibly because conventional wisdom that’s rooted in power, money, and control rather than public service guides our nation’s politics.”  https://www.denverpost.com/2023/02/20/presidents-day.

[v] Political inquiry as well as political action, therefore, “depends for its success not simply on the methods that enable us to solve problems, but also on “the judgement that enables us to appreciate which questions remain most worth asking,” and, by implication, seeking to resolve through political means.” (Hanley, 2004:A (2011) The promises, problems, and potentials of a Bourdieu-inspired staging of International Relations. International Political Sociology 5(3): 294–313. (Underlined text by this writer.)

[vi] Lowi contends, “The government expanded by responding to the demands of all major organized interests, by assuming responsibility for programs sought by those interests, and by assigning that responsibility to administrative agencies. Through the process of accommodation, the agencies became captives of the interest groups, a tendency Lowi describes as clientelism, which Lowi unabashedly contends “tightened the grip of interest groups on the machinery of government.”

[vii]  https://chopwoodcarrywaterllc.com/index.php/2023/11/27/state-level-policymaking-bodies-and-organizations-weather-climate-analogies-relating-to-policy-determination/

[viii] Refer to the following for a list of organizations for which registered lobbyists are listed: https://ethics.wv.gov/SiteCollectionDocuments/Lobby/Directory/Lobbyist%20Directory%202023/DECEMBER%202023/Lobbyist%20Directory%2012-15-2023.pdf

[ix] https://oll.libertyfund.org/title/schleifer-democracy-in-america-historical-critical-edition-vol-3

[x] Edmund Burke provides two additional thoughts:

  • “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
  • “When the leaders choose to make themselves bidders at an auction of popularity, their talents, in the construction of the state, will be of no service. They will become flatterers instead of (policymakers); the instruments, not the guides, of the people.” Burke was an Irish statesman and philosopher who spent most of his career in Great Britain. Born in Dublin, Burke served as a member of Parliament between 1766 and 1794 in the House of Commons of Great Britain with the Whig Party. Quotes taken from various online sources.

[xi] Barbara Jordan (Barbara Charline Jordan) (1936 – 1996), U.S. lawyer, educator, and politician. A Democrat, she was the first African American elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction, the first Southern African-American woman elected to the United States House of Representatives, and one of the first two African Americans elected to the U.S. House from the former Confederacy.  Jordan achieved notoriety for delivering a powerful opening statement[ at the House Judiciary Committee hearings during the impeachment process against Richard Nixon. In 1976, she became the first African American, and the first woman, to deliver a keynote address at a Democratic National Convention (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Jordan).

[xii] The main argument Lowi develops is  that the liberal state grew to its immense size and presence without self-examination and without recognizing that its pattern of growth had problematic consequences. Its engine of growth was delegation. The government expanded by responding to the demands of all major organized interests, by assuming responsibility for programs sought by those interests, and by assigning that responsibility to administrative agencies. Through the process of accommodation, the agencies became captives of the interest groups, a tendency Lowi describes as clientelism. This in turn led to the formulation of new policies which tightened the grip of interest groups on the machinery of government. https://wwnorton.com/books/9780393934328/about-the-book/description

[xiii] Refer, among other sources, to https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/in_camera#:~:text=In%20camera%20is%20a%20Latin,not%20allowed%20to%20take%20part

[xiv] The “goo-goos,” or good government guys, were political groups working in the early 1900s to reform urban municipal governments in the United States that were dominated by graft and corruption. Goo-goos supported candidates who would fight for political reform. The term was first used in the 1890s by their detractors. An

outmoded term.

[xv] These sentiments may be expressed as “bipartisanism,” incrementalism, or efforts to vacate partisan extremism. Incrementalism was first developed in the 1950s by the American political scientist Charles E. Lindblom in response to the then-prevalent conception of policy making as a process of rational analysis culminating in a value-maximizing decision. Incrementalism emphasizes the plurality of actors involved in the policy-making process and predicts that policy makers will build on past policies, focusing on incremental rather than wholesale changes. Incrementalism has been fruitfully applied to explain domestic policy making, foreign policymaking, and public budgeting .https://www.britannica.com/topic/incrementalism

[xvi] This definition sees “In politics, a ‘base’ referring to a group of voters who consistently support a particular political party, candidate, or set of policies. These individuals are often the most loyal and engaged supporters, and they can be relied upon to turn out to vote in elections and to advocate for their preferred candidates or causes. Provided by writer, based on several definitions.

[xvii] https://mccourt.georgetown.edu/news/how-do-policymakers-decide-whom-to-help/

[xviii] “Jurors possess unique qualities that cannot be replicated by AI systems, such as empathy, common sense, and the ability to evaluate witness credibility based on non-verbal cues.
In the future of jury trials, AI should be seen as a tool that supports and enhances human decision-making, rather than replacing it.”  Source: Claims and Litigation Management Alliance. https://www.theclm.org/Magazine/articles/ai-and-the-future-of-jury-trials/2731#:~:text=Jurors%20possess%20unique%20qualities%20that,making%2C%20rather%20than%20replacing%20it.

[xix] https://chopwoodcarrywaterllc.com/index.php/2023/11/27/state-level-policymaking-bodies-and-organizations-weather-climate-analogies-relating-to-policy-determination/

[xx] https://chopwoodcarrywaterllc.com/index.php/2023/11/27/state-level-policymaking-bodies-and-organizations-weather-climate-analogies-relating-to-policy-determination/

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