School Improvement in Maryland
Clarifications: Each clarification provides an explanation of an indicator/objective to help teachers better understand the skills and/or concepts.

Standard 1.0 Political Science

Topic A. The Foundations and Function of Government

Indicator 1. Investigate the evolution of the U.S. political system as expressed in the United States Constitution

Objective e. Evaluate the role and responsibility of a legislator in a representative democracy


Legislators have some of the most important roles and responsibilities in a representative democracy. In the most simple terms, legislators make the laws. They must educate themselves about the broad array of their constituents' needs and the many problems facing their locality, state, and nation. They then use this information to introduce bills and vote on legislation.

In a representative democracy, legislators are the voice of the people. The people, who hold all governing power in a democracy, delegate much of their governing power to legislators, whom they trust to represent them in government and protect their interests. The use of representatives makes government more efficient. The process of lawmaking would be too time-consuming and unwieldy if each citizen was involved directly. But the people do not give up their governing power by electing representatives. They retain a voice in government by choosing the people whom they want to represent them and by telling their elected representatives what sorts of laws they want. If a legislator is not serving the best interests of the citizens whom s/he represents, the people can vote him or her out of office during the next election.

Legislators are trusted to carefully balance the needs of all citizens. They must not serve just one person or group. Also, while representing the people who elected them, legislators are also required to do what is best for the nation as a whole. Sometimes doing both is challenging because the needs of their local districts and the nation as a whole are different.

Legislators are also responsible for helping to balance the power of the executive branch. By sharing various powers with the executive and controlling the power of impeachment, the legislative branch can help make sure that the executive branch does not abuse its power.

Resources for Objective 1.A.1.e: