Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman in the U.S. House of Representatives, was elected in 1968. That was nearly a hundred years after the election of the first African American man to Congress and fifty years after the first woman. A quarter of a century after Chisholm's election, the first Black woman, Carol Moseley-Braun, was elected to the United States Senate. It was not until 1993, when ten additional Black women won seats in the 103rd Congress, that African American women were allowed to serve their country and their constituencies in any substantial numbers. In 1997 that historic moment will very likely be lost as congressional districts are redrawn by court order. This remarkable book by LaVerne Gill preserves the history of the struggles and accomplishments of these fifteen courageous women, and will move others to learn from and follow their example.
African American Women in Congress details the life and career histories of Shirley Chisholm, Barbara Jordan, Yvonne Burke, Cardiss Collins, Katie Hall, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Maxine Waters, Barbara-Rose Collins, Carol Moseley-Braun, Corinne Brown, Carrie Meek, Cynthia McKinney, Eva Clayton, Eddie Bernice Johnson, and Sheila Jackson-Lee. Each profile contains a picture of its subject, interview material, and resumés. Arranged chronologically, the book introduces the reader to issues of vital importance to the Black community—Reconstruction, enfranchisement, lynchings and harassment, civil rights struggles, the founding of advocacy groups, the power of the Congressional Black Caucus, the creation of majority minority districts that allowed greater representation in Congress, the struggle of largely Black Washington, D.C., for representation, and the recent dismantling of past gains by a Republican majority. Gill also describes the uphill battles for social justice and the rights of women that the fifteen women had to wage even within their own political parties, political organizations, and districts.
For general readers, high school and college students, and anyone interested in the political process, this book is illuminating and inspiring reading.
When the United States goes to war, the nation’s attention focuses on the president. As commander in chief, a president reaches the zenith of power, while Congress is supposedly shunted to the sidelines once troops have been deployed abroad. Because of Congress’s repeated failure to exercise its legislative powers to rein in presidents, many have proclaimed its irrelevance in military matters.
After the Rubicon challenges this conventional wisdom by illuminating the diverse ways in which legislators influence the conduct of military affairs. Douglas L. Kriner reveals that even in politically sensitive wartime environments, individual members of Congress frequently propose legislation, hold investigative hearings, and engage in national policy debates in the public sphere. These actions influence the president’s strategic decisions as he weighs the political costs of pursuing his preferred military course.
Marshalling a wealth of quantitative and historical evidence, Kriner expertly demonstrates the full extent to which Congress materially shapes the initiation, scope, and duration of major military actions and sheds new light on the timely issue of interbranch relations.
"Jones and McDermott restore meaning to democratic responsibility by finding that public evaluations affect Congress. In contrast to the popular depiction of the representatives controlling the represented
rampant in the political science literature, Jones and McDermott show that the people are in control, determining not only the direction of policy in Congress, but also who stays, who retires, and who faces difficult reelection efforts. This book makes an important correction to our understanding of how Congress operates."
---Sean M. Theriault, University of Texas at Austin
Voters may not know the details of specific policies, but they have a general sense of how well Congress serves their own interests; and astute politicians pay attention to public approval ratings. When the majority party is unpopular, as during the 2008 election, both voters and politicians take a hand in reconfiguring the House and the Senate. Voters throw hard-line party members out of office while candidates who continue to run under the party banner distance themselves from party ideology. In this way, public approval directly affects policy shifts as well as turnovers at election time. Contrary to the common view of Congress as an insulated institution, Jones and McDermott argue that Congress is indeed responsive to the people of the United States.
David R. Jones is Professor of Political Science at Baruch College, City University of New York.
Monika L. McDermott is Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University.
Barbara Vucanovich was sixty-two when she ran in her first election, becoming the first woman ever elected to a federal office from Nevada. In this engaging memoir, written with her daughter, she reflects on the road that led her to Washington--her years as mother, businesswoman, and volunteer.
Between 1951 and 1989, Congress held a series of hearings to investigate the antitrust aspects of professional sports leagues. Among the concerns: ownership control of players, restrictions on new franchises, territorial protection, and other cartel-like behaviors.
In The Big Leagues Go to Washington, David Surdam chronicles the key issues that arose during the hearings and the ways opposing sides used economic data and theory to define what was right, what was feasible, and what was advantageous to one party or another. As Surdam shows, the hearings affected matters as fundamental to the modern game as broadcasting rights, player drafts and unions, league mergers, and the dominance of the New York Yankees. He also charts how lawmakers from the West and South pressed for the relocation of ailing franchises to their states and the ways savvy owners dodged congressional interference when they could and adapted to it when necessary.
Matt Quay was called “the ablest politician this country has ever produced.” He served as a United States senator representing Pennsylvania from 1887 to 1904. His career as a Republican Party boss, however, spanned nearly half a century, during which numerous governors and one president owed their election success to his political skills. James A. Kehl was given the first public access to Quay's own papers, and herein presents the inside story of this controversial man who was considered a political Robin Hood for his alleged bribe-taking, misappropriations of funds, and concern for the underprivileged-yet he emerged as the most powerful member of the Republican Party in his state.
Before 1946 the congressional role in public administration had been limited to authorization, funding, and review of federal administrative operations, which had grown rapidly as a result of the New Deal and the Second World War. But in passing the Administrative Procedure Act and the Legislative Reorganization Act that pivotal year, Congress self-consciously created for itself a comprehensive role in public administration. Reluctant to delegate legislative authority to federal agencies, Congress decided to treat the agencies as extensions of itself and established a framework for comprehensive regulation of the agencies' procedures. Additionally, Congress reorganized itself so it could provide continuous supervision of federal agencies.
Rosenbloom shows how these 1946 changes in the congressional role in public administration laid the groundwork for future major legislative acts, including the Freedom of Information Act (1966), Privacy Act (1974), Government in the Sunshine Act (1976), Paperwork Reduction Acts (1980, 1995), Chief Financial Officers Act (1990), and Small Business Regulatory Fairness Enforcement Act (1996). Each of these acts, and many others, has contributed to the legislative-centered public administration that Congress has formed over the past 50 years.
This first book-length study of the subject provides a comprehensive explanation of the institutional interests, values, and logic behind the contemporary role of Congress in federal administration and attempts to move the public administration field beyond condemning legislative "micromanagement" to understanding why Congress values it.
2001 Louis Brownlow Award from the National Academy of Public Administration
In Candidates, Congress, and the American Democracy Linda L. Fowler provides a wide-ranging examination of candidacy as a source of both stability and change in U.S. politics. An expert on political candidates, she brings a novel perspective to the topic by emphasizing that candidates are necessary instruments for popular control of government.
Fowler maintains that the ambitions of individual candidates are essential to the functioning of the nation's constitutional system and are important factors in its political history. She traces the influence of candidates in fostering electoral competition, promoting the representation of such newly mobilized groups of citizens as women and ethnic minorities, and transforming political institutions and parties. Despite the importance of candidacy, the institution is poorly understood because both scholars and voters tend to limit their focus on candidates to the narrow context of election campaigns. The author argues that a broader view reveals how candidates are linked to a variety of trends and contradictions in contemporary U.S. politics.
“A time when panics seem far removed is the best time to prepare our financial system to withstand a storm. The most crying need this country has is a proper banking and currency system. The existing one is inadequate, and everyone who has studied the question admits it.”—William Howard Taft
The interaction between President William Howard Taft and the Congress provides a window on his leadership. Volume IV of The Collected Works of William Howard Taft is devoted to his messages to the legislative branch and concerns some of the pressing issues of the day, issues that have relevance still.
Oftentimes President Taft was at odds with a somewhat reactionary Congress, causing him to veto legislation that he thought unwise. For example, his commitment to the independence of elected judges led him to reject statehood for Arizona until its constitution was altered to address his objection.
His messages also touched on subjects for which he led the way over the objections of Congress, such as his recommendation of a federal law to protect resident aliens against denial of their civil rights and his advocacy of free trade with Canada.
In his commentary to the volume, Professor Burton points out: “There is exhibited time after time concern for the American people, for men and women from different walks of life. Taft comes across less as a judge, which he had been, or the chief justice he was to become, and more as a sitting president of all the people.”
Taft’s Presidential Messages to Congress provides the documentary evidence to support that claim.
The public, journalists, and legislators themselves have often lamented a decline in congressional lawmaking in recent years, often blaming party politics for the lack of legislative output. In Committees and the Decline of Lawmaking in Congress, Dr. Lewallen examines the decline in lawmaking from a new, committee-centered perspective. Dr. Lewallen tests his theory against other explanations such as partisanship and an increased demand for oversight with multiple empirical tests and traces shifts in policy activity by policy area using the Policy Agendas Project coding scheme.
He finds that because party leaders have more control over the legislative agenda, committees have spent more of their time conducting oversight instead. Partisanship alone does not explain this trend; changes in institutional rules and practices that empowered party leaders have created more uncertainty for committees and contributed to a shift in their policy activities. The shift towards oversight at the committee level combined with party leader control over the voting agenda means that many members of Congress are effectively cut out of many of the institution’s policy decisions. This book comes at a time when many including Congress itself are considering changes to modernize the institution and keep up with a stronger executive branch. The book’s findings suggest that strengthening Congress will require more than finding different candidates or providing additional resources.
Since Woodrow Wilson, political scientists have recognized the importance of congressional committees in the policy-making process. Congressional committees often determine what legislation will reach the floor of the House or Senate and what form that legislation will take. In spite of the broad consensus on the importance of congressional committees, there is little agreement on what explains committee action. Committees are alternately viewed as agents of the chamber, the party caucuses, or constituencies outside the institution. Each theory suggests a different distribution of power in the policy-making process.
Forrest Maltzman argues that none of these models fully captures the role performed by congressional committees and that committee members attempt to balance the interests of the chamber, the party caucus, and outside constituencies. Over time, and with the changing importance of a committee's agenda to these groups, the responsiveness of members of committees will vary. Maltzman argues that the responsiveness of the committee to these groups is driven by changes in procedure, the strength of the party caucus, and the salience of a committee's agenda. Maltzman tests his theory against historical data.
This book will appeal to social scientists interested in the study of Congress and legislative bodies, as well as those interested in studying the impact of institutional structure on the policy-making process.
"This specialized study, of value to congressional scholars and partisan activists, enriches an understanding of the increasingly predictable patterns of committee variety." --Choice
Forrest Maltzman is Assistant Professor of Political Science, George Washington University.
While the president is the commander in chief, the US Congress plays a critical and underappreciated role in civil-military relations—the relationship between the armed forces and the civilian leadership that commands it. This unique book edited by Colton C. Campbell and David P. Auerswald will help readers better understand the role of Congress in military affairs and national and international security policy. Contributors include the most experienced scholars in the field as well as practitioners and innovative new voices, all delving into the ways Congress attempts to direct the military.
This book explores four tools in particular that play a key role in congressional action: the selection of military officers, delegation of authority to the military, oversight of the military branches, and the establishment of incentives—both positive and negative—to encourage appropriate military behavior. The contributors explore the obstacles and pressures faced by legislators including the necessity of balancing national concerns and local interests, partisan and intraparty differences, budgetary constraints, the military's traditional resistance to change, and an ongoing lack of foreign policy consensus at the national level. Yet, despite the considerable barriers, Congress influences policy on everything from closing bases to drone warfare to acquisitions.
A groundbreaking study, Congress and Civil-Military Relations points the way forward in analyzing an overlooked yet fundamental government relationship.
Economic policymaking has perpetually been one of the central dilemmas facing Congress, leading to huge budget deficits and disagreements among legislators about spending priorities and tax policies.
This book examines congressional decision making on economic policy during the Reagan administration. It looks at legislative actions on Reaganomics, tax reform, and the politics of deficit reduction, and shows the importance of looking not just at the consequences of these decisions but also at the legislative processes that led to them.
Using an “activist-based” approach and previously unexamined data, Darrell West shows that district activists, often more conservative than the public at large, exerted a disproportionate and misleading effect on congressional voting. When this support eventually proved unstable, a more skeptical Congress began to eventually back away from the president's policies. This move had serious consequences for deficit reduction and policy initiation, and also influenced the final shape of the tax reform package adopted in 1986.
Congress and the Constitution
Neal Devins and Keith E. Whittington, eds. Duke University Press, 2005 Library of Congress KF4550.C568 2005 | Dewey Decimal 342.7302
For more than a decade, the U.S. Supreme Court has turned a skeptical eye toward Congress. Distrustful of Congress’s capacity to respect constitutional boundaries, the Court has recently overturned federal legislation at a historically unprecedented rate. This intensified judicial scrutiny highlights the need for increased attention to how Congress approaches constitutional issues. In this important collection, leading scholars in law and political science examine the role of Congress in constitutional interpretation, demonstrating how to better integrate the legislative branch into understandings of constitutional practice.
Several contributors offer wide-ranging accounts of the workings of Congress. They look at lawmakers’ attitudes toward Congress’s role as a constitutional interpreter, the offices within Congress that help lawmakers learn about constitutional issues, Congress’s willingness to use its confirmation power to shape constitutional decisions by both the executive and the courts, and the frequency with which congressional committees take constitutional questions into account. Other contributors address congressional deliberation, paying particular attention to whether Congress’s constitutional interpretations are sound. Still others examine how Congress and the courts should respond to one another’s decisions, suggesting how the courts should evaluate Congress’s work and considering how lawmakers respond to Court decisions that strike down federal legislation. While some essayists are inclined to evaluate Congress’s constitutional interpretation positively, others argue that it could be improved and suggest institutional and procedural reforms toward that end. Whatever their conclusions, all of the essays underscore the pervasive and crucial role that Congress plays in shaping the meaning of the Constitution.
Contributors. David P. Currie, Neal Devins, William N. Eskridge Jr.. John Ferejohn, Louis Fisher, Elizabeth Garrett, Michael J. Gerhardt, Michael J. Klarman, Bruce G. Peabody, J. Mitchell Pickerill, Barbara Sinclair, Mark Tushnet, Adrian Vermeule, Keith E. Whittington, John C. Yoo
During the long decade from 1848 to 1861 America was like a train speeding down the track, without an engineer or brakes. The new territories acquired from Mexico had vastly increased the size of the nation, but debate over their status—and more importantly the status of slavery within them—paralyzed the nation. Southerners gained access to the territories and a draconian fugitive slave law in the Compromise of 1850, but this only exacerbated sectional tensions. Virtually all northerners, even those who supported the law because they believed that it would preserve the union, despised being turned into slave catchers. In 1854, in the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Congress repealed the ban on slavery in the remaining unorganized territories. In 1857, in the Dred Scott case, the Supreme Court held that all bans on slavery in the territories were unconstitutional. Meanwhile, northern whites, free blacks, and fugitive slaves resisted the enforcement of the 1850 fugitive slave law. In Congress members carried weapons and Representative Preston Brooks assaulted Senator Charles Sumner with a cane, nearly killing him. This was the decade of the 1850s and these were the issues Congress grappled with.
This volume of new essays examines many of these issues, helping us better understand the failure of political leadership in the decade that led to the Civil War.
Spencer R. Crew
Amy S. Greenberg
Martin J. Hershock
Michael F. Holt
Brooks D. Simpson
In 1815 the United States was a proud and confident nation. Its second war with England had come to a successful conclusion, and Americans seemed united as never before. The collapse of the Federalist party left the Jeffersonian Republicans in control of virtually all important governmental offices. This period of harmony—what historians once called the Era of Good Feeling—was not illusory, but it was far from stable. One-party government could not persist for long in a vibrant democracy full of ambitious politicians, and sectional harmony was possible only as long as no one addressed the hard issues: slavery, race, western expansion, and economic development.
Congress and the Emergence of Sectionalism: From the Missouri Compromise to the Age of Jackson inaugurates a new series for the United States Capitol Historical Society, one that will focus on issues that led to the secession crisis and the Civil War. This first volume examines controversies surrounding sectionalism and the rise of Jacksonian Democracy, placing these sources of conflict in the context of congressional action in the 1820s and 1830s. The essays in this volume consider the plight of American Indians, sectional strife over banking and commerce, emerging issues involving slavery, and the very nature of American democracy.
“It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes…. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing. In the act before me there seems to be a wide and unnecessary departure from these just principles.”—Andrew Jackson, Veto Message Regarding the Bank of the United States, July 10, 1832
“I consider, then, the power to annul a law of the United States, assumed by one State, incompatible with the existence of the Union, contradicted expressly by the letter of the Constitution, unauthorized by its spirit, inconsistent with every principle on which it was founded, and destructive of the great object for which it was formed.”—Andrew Jackson, Proclamation Regarding Nullification to the People of South Carolina, December 10, 1832
The American Civil War was the first military conflict in history to be fought with railroads moving troops and the telegraph connecting civilian leadership to commanders in the field. New developments arose at a moment’s notice. As a result, the young nation’s political structure and culture often struggled to keep up. When war began, Congress was not even in session. By the time it met, the government had mobilized over 100,000 soldiers, battles had been fought, casualties had been taken, some civilians had violently opposed the war effort, and emancipation was under way.
This set the stage for Congress to play catch-up for much of the conflict. The result was an ongoing race to pass new laws and set policies. Throughout it all, Congress had to answer to a fractured and demanding public. In addition, Congress, no longer paralyzed by large numbers of Southern slave owners, moved forward on progressive economic and social issues—such as the transcontinental railroad and the land grant college act—which could not previously have been passed.
In Congress and the People’s Contest, Paul Finkelman and Donald R. Kennon have assembled some of the nation’s finest scholars of American history and law to evaluate the interactions between Congress and the American people as they navigated a cataclysmic and unprecedented war. Displaying a variety and range of focus that will make the book a classroom must, these essays show how these interactions took place—sometimes successfully, and sometimes less so.
Contributors: L. Diane Barnes, Fergus M. Bordewich, Jenny Bourne, Jonathan Earle, Lesley J. Gordon, Mischa Honeck, Chandra Manning, Nikki M. Taylor, and Eric Walther.
Skillfully blending historical data with microeconomic theory, Glenn Parker argues that the incentives for congressional service have declined over the years, and that with that decline has come a change in the kind of person who seeks to enter Congress. The decline in the attractiveness of Congress is a consequence of congressional careerists and of the growth in the rent-seeking society, a term which describes the efforts of special interests to obtain preferential treatment by using the machinery of government--legislation and regulations.
Parker provides a fresh and controversial perspective to the debate surrounding the relative merits of career or amateur politicians. He argues that driving career politicians from office can have pernicious effects on the political system: it places the running of Congress in the hands of amateur politicians, who stand to lose little if they are found engaging in illegal or quasi-legal practices. On the other hand, career legislators risk all they have invested in their long careers in public service if they engage in unsavory practices. As Parker develops this controversial argument, he provides a fresh perspective on the debate surrounding the value of career versus amateur politicians.
Little attention has been given to the long-term impact of a rent-seeking society on the evolution of political institutions. Parker examines empirically and finds support for hypotheses that reflect potential symptoms of adverse selection in the composition of Congress: (1) rent-seeking politicians are more inclined than others to manipulate institutional arrangements for financial gain; (2) the rent-seeking milieu of legislators are more likely to engage in rent-seeking activity than earlier generations; (3) and the growth of rent-seeking activity has hastened the departure of career legislators.
Glenn R. Parker is Distinguished Research Professor, Florida State University.
The Congress of Vienna
Brian E. Vick Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress DC249.V45 2014 | Dewey Decimal 940.2744
Historians have dismissed the pageantry of the Vienna Congress as window dressing when compared with the serious maneuverings of sovereigns and statesmen. By seeing these two dimensions as interconnected, Brian Vick reveals how one of the most important diplomatic summits in history managed to redraw the map of Europe and the international system.
This impressive collection of essays by many renowned scholars was compiled in honor of Richard F. Fenno's contribution to legislative studies. Utilizing various approaches to examine the impact of strategic behavior, rules, and institutions on legislative outcomes, this book produces significant new insights into legislative behavior. The themes that are constant in this volume and that reflect Richard F. Fenno's own treatment of the field are legislators as rational actors; the expectation that congressional rules, procedures, and institutions reflect the preferences and constraints faced by members of Congress; and viewing politics as politicians do.
The contributors are John Aldrich, Steve Balla, David Castle, Christine DeGregorio, Richard Delany, Diana Evans, Patrick Fett, Linda Fowler, Brian Frederking, Jeffrey Hill, Bryan Marshall, Brandon Prins, David Rohde, Wendy Schiller, Kenneth Shepsle, and John Wright.
William T. Bianco is Associate Professor of Political Science, Pennsylvania State University.
Congress, the President, and the Federal Reserve is a study of the politics of monetary policy making at the Federal Reserve--widely considered the most important and most powerful federal bureaucracy. Ostensibly, the Federal Reserve is independent of the political branches of government; however, Congress, the President, and the Federal Reserve clearly demonstrates-- from both a theoretical and empirical standpoint--how the preferences of members of Congress and the President impact decisionmaking at the Fed.
Current formal theories of the general policy-making process are utilized to construct an explanatory framework that identifies the mechanisms through which congressional and executive influence is exercised. The theoretical framework presented in the text also helps to explain the political dynamics of several of the most significant policy decisions of the Federal Reserve during the last half-century. In addition, this book provides a unique perspective on the manner in which Fed policymakers attempt to shield themselves from unwelcome political influence.
While the main focus of Congress, the President, and the Federal Reserve is monetary policy-making, it also speaks to the political nature of policy-making in a more general sense and provides a guide for the future study of the political dynamics in a wide variety of substantive policy areas. Thus it will interest not only political scientists and economists interested in monetary policy-making specifically but also those interested in the nature of public policy-making more generally.
Irwin L. Morris is Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Maryland.
"Lipinski's impressive analysis of members' communications with constituents yields major insights about partisanship, effects on reelection prospects, and constituent evaluations."
--Bruce Oppenheimer, Vanderbilt University
"The communication between representatives and their constituents is where election strategy and policy explanations are merged and, until now, we have had only anecdotal evidence. Lipinski's book sheds light on this important part of American political life."
--David Brady, Stanford University
Congressional Communication challenges the notion that legislators "run against Congress" by routinely denigrating the institution. Using a unique, systematic analysis of the communication from members of Congress to their constituents over a five-year period, Daniel Lipinski challenges this notion, demonstrating key partisan differences in representatives' portrayals of congressional activities. While members of the majority party tend to report that the institution-and, hence, their party-is performing well, members of the minority party are more likely to accuse Congress of doing a poor job.
The findings in Congressional Communication offer the first strong empirical evidence from the electoral arena in support of controversial party government theories. Moving beyond previous studies that look only at legislators' messages, Lipinski's research also reveals the effects of these politically strategic claims on voters, whose interpretations don't necessarily bear out the legislators' intended effects.
Daniel Lipinski is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Tennessee.
The Constitution in Congress series has been called nothing less than a biography of the US Constitution for its in-depth examination of the role that the legislative and executive branches have played in the development of constitutional interpretation. This third volume in the series, the early installments of which dealt with the Federalist and Jeffersonian eras, continues this examination with the Jacksonian revolution of 1829 and subsequent efforts by Democrats to dismantle Henry Clay’s celebrated “American System” of nationalist economics. David P. Currie covers the political events of the period leading up to the start of the Civil War, showing how the slavery question, although seldom overtly discussed in the debates included in this volume, underlies the Southern insistence on strict interpretation of federal powers.
Like its predecessors, The Constitution in Congress: Democrats and Whigs will be an invaluable reference for legal scholars and constitutional historians alike.
This acclaimed series serves as a biography of the U.S. Constitution, offering an indispensable survey of the congressional history behind its development. In a rare examination of the role that both the legislative and executive branches have played in the development of constitutional interpretation, The Constitution in Congress shows how the actions and proceedings of these branches reveal perhaps even more about constitutional disputes than Supreme Court decisions of the time.
The centerpiece for the fourth volume in this series is the great debate over slavery and how this divisive issue led the country into the maelstrom of the Civil War. From the Jacksonian revolution of 1829 to the secession of Southern states from the Union, legal scholar David P. Currie provides an unrivaled analysis of the significant constitutional events—the Wilmot Proviso, the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, and "Bleeding Kansas"—that led up to the war. Exploring how slavery was addressed in presidential speeches and debated in Congress, Currie shows how the Southern Democrats dangerously diminished federal authority and expanded states' rights, threatening the nation's very survival.
Like its predecessors, this fourth volume of The Constitution in Congress will be an invaluable reference for legal scholars and constitutional historians alike.
In the most thorough examination to date, David P. Currie analyzes from a legal perspective the work of the first six congresses and of the executive branch during the Federalist era, with a view to its significance for constitutional interpretation. He concludes that the original understanding of the Constitution was forged not so much in the courts as in the legislative and executive branches, an argument of crucial importance for scholars in constitutional law, history, and government.
"A joy to read."—Appellate Practive Journal and Update
"[A] patient and exemplary analysis of the work of the first six Congresses."—Geoffrey Marshall, Times Literary Supplement
Because of the judicial branch's tremendous success in reviewing
legislative and executive action in the United States, legal scholars
have traditionally looked only to the courts for guidance in
interpreting the Constitution. This, the second book in David P.
Currie's multivolume series, looks to the legislative and executive
branches for insights into the development of constitutional
Currie examines the period of Republican hegemony from the
inauguration of Thomas Jefferson in 1801 to the election of Andrew
Jackson in 1829. During this time of great leadership and
controversy, many benchmark issues—the abolition of the new Circuit
Courts, the Louisiana Purchase, the Burr conspiracy, the War of 1812,
the Monroe Doctrine, and the Missouri Compromise, among others—were
debated and decided almost exclusively in the legislative and
executive arenas. With its uniquely legal perspective and
comprehensive coverage, The Constitution in Congress
illustrates how the executive and legislative branches matched the
Supreme Court in putting flesh and blood onto the skeleton of the
In Constitutional Deliberation in Congress J. Mitchell Pickerill analyzes the impact of the Supreme Court’s constitutional decisions on Congressional debates and statutory language. Based on a thorough examination of how Congress responds to key Court rulings and strategizes in anticipation of them, Pickerill argues that judicial review—or the possibility of it—encourages Congressional attention to constitutional issues. Revealing critical aspects of how laws are made, revised, and refined within the separated system of government of the United States, he makes an important contribution to “constitutionalism outside the courts” debates.
Pickerill combines legislative histories, extensive empirical findings, and interviews with current and former members of Congress, congressional staff, and others. He examines data related to all of the federal legislation struck down by the Supreme Court from the beginning of the Warren Court in 1953 through the 1996–97 term of the Rehnquist Court. By looking at the legislative histories of Congressional acts that invoked the Commerce Clause and presented Tenth Amendment conflicts—such as the Child Labor Act (1916), the Civil Rights Act (1965), the Gun-Free School Zones Act (1990), and the Brady Bill (1994)—Pickerill illuminates how Congressional deliberation over newly proposed legislation is shaped by the possibility of judicial review. The Court’s invalidation of the Gun-Free School Zones Act in its 1995 ruling United States v. Lopez signaled an increased judicial activism regarding issues of federalism. Pickerill examines that case and compares congressional debate over constitutional issues in key pieces of legislation that preceded and followed it: the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 1997. He shows that Congressional attention to federalism increased in the 1990s along with the Court’s greater scrutiny.
Why do members of Congress resort to name-calling? In this provocative book, Eric M. Uslaner proposes that Congress is mirroring the increased incivility of American society. He points to five core values—American exceptionalism, enlightened individualism, egalitarianism, science as social engineering, and religion—that have been eroded since the 1960s. The author argues that a lack of trust permeates members of Congress to the point that they would rather seek control than compromise. This, Uslaner contends, is the real cause of gridlock in Washington. The Decline in Comity in Congress demonstrates why institutional reform will not correct this problem and why Americans need to change before their government can.
The task of deliberating public policy falls preeminently to Congress. But decisions on matters ranging from budget deficits to the war with Iraq, among others, raise serious doubts about its performance. In Deliberative Choices, Gary Mucciaroni and Paul J. Quirk assess congressional deliberation by analyzing debate on the House and Senate floors. Does debate genuinely inform members of Congress and the public? Or does it mostly mislead and manipulate them?
Mucciaroni and Quirk argue that in fashioning the claims they use in debate, legislators make a strategic trade-off between boosting their rhetorical force and ensuring their ability to withstand scrutiny. Using three case studies—welfare reform, repeal of the estate tax, and telecommunications deregulation—the authors show how legislators’ varying responses to such a trade-off shape the issues they focus on, the claims they make, and the information they provide in support of those claims.
Mucciaroni and Quirk conclude that congressional debate generally is only moderately realistic and informed. It often trades in half-truths, omissions, and sometimes even outright falsehoods. Yet some debates are highly informative. Moreover, the authors believe it’s possible to improve congressional deliberation, and they recommend reforms designed to do so.
What if there were more women in Congress? Providing the first comprehensive study of the policy activity of male and female legislators at the federal level, Michele L. Swers persuasively demonstrates that, even though representatives often vote a party line, their gender is politically significant and does indeed influence policy making.
Swers combines quantitative analyses of bills with interviews with legislators and their staff to compare legislative activity on women's issues by male and female members of the House of Representatives during the 103rd (1993-94) and 104th (1995-96) Congresses. Tracking representatives' commitment to women's issues throughout the legislative process, from the introduction of bills through committee consideration to final floor votes, Swers examines how the prevailing political context and members' positions within Congress affect whether and how aggressively they pursue women's issues.
Anyone studying congressional behavior, the role of women, or the representation of social identities in Congress will benefit from Swers's balanced and nuanced analysis.
Divided Power is a collection of eight original essays written for the Fulbright Institute of International Relations that focuses on timely yet unanswerable questions about the relationship between the executive and legislative branches in the formation of American foreign policy. In trying to answer questions about what the nationâ€™s foreign policy is, and who has the upper hand in making it, these essays examine the struggle between the constant of the division of powers mandated by the Constitution (ambiguous though it may be) and the ever-changing political realities and conventional wisdoms of the day. Within that context, the authors also examine the society and culture in which those realities and wisdoms are nested. The goal of these essays is to offer a snapshot in time of the interaction of the executive and legislative branches in the shaping of our foreign policy, framed and informed by the intellectual and political realities that characterize the postâ€“Cold War, postâ€“September 11 world.
Electoral Incentives in Congress
Jamie L. Carson and Joel Sievert University of Michigan Press, 2018 Library of Congress JK1021.C368 2018 | Dewey Decimal 324.97305
David Mayhew’s 1974 thesis on the “electoral connection” and its impact on legislative behavior is the theoretical foundation for research on the modern U.S. Congress. Mayhew contends that once in office, legislators pursue the actions that put them in the best position for reelection. Carson and Sievert examine how electoral incentives shaped legislative behavior throughout the nineteenth century by looking at patterns of turnover in Congress; the renomination of candidates; the roles of parties in recruiting candidates and their broader effects on candidate competition; and, finally by examining legislators’ accountability. The results have wide-ranging implications for the evolution of Congress and the development of legislative institutions over time.
Voters simultaneously choose among candidates running for different offices, with different terms, and occupying different places in the Constitutional order. Conventional wisdom holds that these overlapping institutional differences make comparative electoral research difficult, if not impossible. Paul Gronke's path-breaking study compares electoral contexts, campaigns, and voter decision-making in House and Senate elections. Gronke's book offers new insights into how differences--and similarities--across offices structure American elections.
Congressional elections research holds that Senate races are more competitive than House contests because states are more heterogeneous, or because candidates are more prominent and raise more money, or because voters have fundamentally different expectations. Because House and Senate contests are seldom compared, we have little empirical evidence to test the various hypotheses about how voters make choices for different offices. Gronke finds that the similarities between House and Senate elections are much greater than previously thought and that voters make their decisions in both races on the same bases.
Gronke first looks at differences in congressional districts and states, showing that context does not really help us understand why Senate elections feature better candidates, higher spending, and closer outcomes. Next, he turns to campaigns. Surprisingly, over a turbulent twenty-year period, House and Senate candidacies have retained the same competitive dynamics.
Gronke also considers voting behavior in House and Senate elections. Focusing on the 1988 and 1990 elections, he argues that voters do not distinguish between institutions, applying fundamentally the same decision rule, regardless of the office being contested. Gronke closes by considering the implications of his results for the way we relate settings, electoral dynamics, and institutional arrangements.
This book will appeal to those interested in Congress, political campaigning, and voting.
Paul Gronke is Associate Professor of Political Science at Reed College.
Establishing Congress: The Removal to Washington, D.C., and the Election of 1800 focuses on the end of the 1790s, when, in rapid succession, George Washington died, the federal government moved to Washington, D.C., and the election of 1800 put Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republican Party in charge of the federal government.
Establishing Congress dispels the myths and misinformation that surround the federal government’s move to Washington and demonstrates that the election of 1800 changed American party politics forever, establishing the success of the American experiment in government and completing the founding of the Republic. It also contends that the lame-duck session of Congress had far-reaching implications for the governance of the District of Columbia. Later chapters examine aspects of the political iconography of the Capitol—one illuminating Jefferson’s role in turning the building into a temple for the legislature and an instrument for nation-building, another analyzing the fascinating decades-long debate over whether to bury George Washington in the Capitol.
The book considers as well the political implications of social life in early Washington, examining the political lobbying by Washington women within a social context and detailing the social and political life in the city’s homes, hotels, boardinghouses, and eating messes. Establishing Congress is an invaluable reference work for anyone interested in these pivotal moments in American history.
Estes Kefauver: A Biography
Charles L. Fontenay University of Tennessee Press, 1980 Library of Congress E748.K314F66 | Dewey Decimal 973.90924
Ferraro: My Story
Geraldine Ferraro Northwestern University Press, 2004 Library of Congress E840.8.F47A3 2004 | Dewey Decimal 973.927092
In this memoir, Geraldine A. Ferraro reflects on her experience as the first and only woman nominated by a major party to run on the presidential ticket. This book reveals the process that led to her nomination as the 1984 Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate and gives a revealing behind-the-scenes look at campaign politics, especially the ruthless criticism directed at her and her family. Ferraro brings to life the dynamics of the women in Congress and how the different life experiences that they bring to the table affect the policy making process. She also gives a real understanding of the pioneering women, including Bella Abzug, Gloria Steinem, Millie Jeffrey and many others who worked together to make sure that a women was on the Democratic ticket in 1984.
Ferraro's run for vice-president was an important moment in American history. The time is right for telling a new generation this story of women's collective political power and the difference women office holders can and do make to public policy.
In the traditional view of foreign policy making in the United States, the President is considered the primary authority and Congress is seen as playing a subsidiary role. Marie T. Henehan looks at the effects of events in the international system on both the content of foreign policy and what actions Congress takes on foreign policy. Henehan argues that the only way to understand the way congressional behavior varies over time is by looking at the rise and resolution of critical issues in foreign policy, which in turn have their origin in the international system. When a critical foreign policy issue arises, congressional activity and attempts to influence foreign policy increase. Once the debate is resolved and one side wins, a consensus emerges and Congress settles into a more passive role. Using a data set consisting of all roll call votes on foreign policy issues taken by the Senate from 1897 to 1984 to generate indicators of Congressional behavior, together with the rise and fall of critical issues in international relations, Henehan is able to develop a more nuanced understanding of Congress's role in foreign policy making over time.
In recent years political scientists have begun to consider the impact of the international system on domestic policy. Part of the difficulty of some of this work, as well as work on Congress's role in foreign policy, is that it has been limited in terms of time and the number of events the analysis considered, depending on case studies. This book offers a systematic consideration of the effects of international events on domestic politics, crossing many different kinds of international activity, and provides a unique longitudinal view of Congressional action on foreign policy.
This book will be of interest to scholars of international relations, American foreign policy making, and Congress.
Marie T. Henehan is Assistant Professor of Political Science, Vanderbilt University.
In From Inclusion to Influence, Walter Wilson addresses urgent questions regarding the political incorporation of Latinos in America. First, he demonstrates that Latino representatives in the U.S. Congress do, in fact, represent Latino interests more effectively than do other representatives, both by serving as conduits connecting fellow Latinos to the government and by introducing their concerns into the legislative process. Then, moving beyond the debate about descriptive and substantive representation, Wilson identifies the ways in which the efforts of Latinos in Congress enable the meaningful inclusion of Latinos in politics, foster the ability of Latinos to shape public policy, and ultimately promote democracy in an increasingly diverse nation.
Through a comprehensive analysis of American agricultural politics in the past half-century, Gaining Access shows when, how, and why interest groups gain and lose influence in the policy deliberations of the United States Congress. By consulting with policy advocates, John Mark Hansen argues, lawmakers offset their uncertainty about the policy stands that will bolster or impede their prospects for reelection. The advocates provide legislators with electoral intelligence in Washington and supportive propaganda at home, earning serious consideration of their policy views in return. From among a multitude of such informants, representatives must choose those they will most closely consult.
With evidence from congressional hearings, personal interviews, oral histories, farm and trade journals, and newspapers, Hansen traces the evolution of farm lobby access in Congress. He chronicles the rise and fall of the American Farm Bureau, the surge and decline of party politics, the incoporation of the commodity lobbies, the exclusion of the consumer lobbies, and the accommodation of urban interests in food stamps.
Brilliantly combining insights from rational choice theory with historical data, Gaining Access is an essential guide for anyone interested in the dynamics of interest group influence.
Thirty years ago there were nine African Americans in the U.S. House of Representatives. Today there are four times that number. In Going Home, the dean of congressional studies, Richard F. Fenno, explores what representation has meant—and means today—to black voters and to the politicians they have elected to office.
Fenno follows the careers of four black representatives—Louis Stokes, Barbara Jordan, Chaka Fattah, and Stephanie Tubbs Jones—from their home districts to the halls of the Capitol. He finds that while these politicians had different visions of how they should represent their districts (in part based on their individual preferences, and in part based on the history of black politics in America), they shared crucial organizational and symbolic connections to their constituents. These connections, which draw on a sense of "linked fates," are ones that only black representatives can provide to black constituents.
His detailed portraits and incisive analyses will be important for anyone interested in the workings of Congress or in black politics.
It was a phrase that consumed the American imagination in the 1960s and 70s and inspired a new agenda for black freedom. Dynamic and transformational, the black power movement embodied more than media stereotypes of gun-toting, dashiki-wearing black radicals; the movement opened new paths to equality through political and economic empowerment.
In Harambee City, Nishani Frazier chronicles the rise and fall of black power within the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) by exploring the powerful influence of the Cleveland CORE chapter. Frazier explores the ways that black Clevelanders began to espouse black power ideals including black institution building, self-help, and self-defense. These ideals challenged CORE’s philosophy of interracial brotherhood and nonviolent direct action, spawning ideological ambiguities in the Cleveland chapter. Later, as Cleveland CORE members rose to national prominence in the organization, they advocated an open embrace of black power and encouraged national CORE to develop a notion of black community uplift that emphasized economic populism over political engagement. Not surprisingly, these new empowerment strategies found acceptance in Cleveland.
By providing an understanding of the tensions between black power and the mainstream civil rights movement as they manifested themselves as both local and national forces, Harambee City sheds new light on how CORE became one of the most dynamic civil rights organizations in the black power era.
Richard Fenno first coined the term home style to describe the ways in which members of Congress cultivate the voters of their home constituencies. He suggested that incumbents were paying more attention to their constituents than they had in the past. In this book, Glenn Parker examines the relationship between activities at home and in Washington, asking specifically: Why and when did congressmen and senators begin to pay more attention to their constituents? And what are the institutional consequences of this change?
Using data drawn from the travel vouchers filed by incumbent senators and congressmen between 1959 and 1980, Parker shows that since the mid-1960s incumbents have been placing greater emphasis on service to their state or district. Congress has facilitated this change in various ways, such as by increasing travel allowances and by scheduling that minimizes the conflict between legislative business in Washington and time spent with constituents.
Parker's study includes both the Senate and House, and he draws distinctions between the home-style behaviors of senators and representatives. He also provides a historical context for understanding the dynamics of changes in home style. The time-series data generate explanations that specify relationships among historical conditions, individual behavior, and institutional structures.
Horses In Midstream
Andrew E Busch University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999 Library of Congress JK1976.B85 1999 | Dewey Decimal 324.973092
Horses in Midstream breaks the mold of midterm election literature by focusing on the consequences of midterm elections rather than on the causes of the anti-administration pattern of those elections. The book concludes that the midterm pattern has two primary consequences: it stymies the President and provides an opportunity for the revitalization of the opposition party—and that numerical losses by the President's party is really only a small part of the equation. Consequently, midterm elections can be considered an additional check in the U.S. political system, acting as a mechanism that helps to assure rough two party balance.
In examining the historical results from midterm elections dating back to 1894 and extending to the surprising result of 1994 and 1998, Busch has uncovered seven consistent ways in which the president and his party are harmed by midterm elections. These elections unfavorably alter the composition of congress, both between the parties and within the President's own party; they deprive the President of the plebiscitary power derived from his original electoral mandate; they give an intangible sense of momentum to the opposition party, leading to renewed opportunities for the opposition to put forward new leaders and to develop winning issues; they exacerbate splits within the President's own party; and they provide the opposition party with expanded party-building opportunities at the state level. Busch also places the midterm elections into four categories: "preparatory" midterms, which contribute to a subsequent change in party control of the Presidency; "calibrating" midterms in which voters slow but do not reverse extraordinary periods of Presidentially-driven change; "normal" midterms when midterm elections stymie the President without contributing to a White House takeover; and the rare "creative exceptions" when an administration escapes the midterm curse at the polls and find themselves invigorated rather than weakened. Busch's new approach to midterm elections, his well supported conclusions, and his clear, consistent style will certainly be of interest to political scientists and will translate well to the classroom.
As Democrats and Republicans continue to vie for political advantage, Congress remains paralyzed by partisan conflict. That the last two decades have seen some of the least productive Congresses in recent history is usually explained by the growing ideological gulf between the parties, but this explanation misses another fundamental factor influencing the dynamic. In contrast to politics through most of the twentieth century, the contemporary Democratic and Republican parties compete for control of Congress at relative parity, and this has dramatically changed the parties’ incentives and strategies in ways that have driven the contentious partisanship characteristic of contemporary American politics.
With Insecure Majorities, Frances E. Lee offers a controversial new perspective on the rise of congressional party conflict, showing how the shift in competitive circumstances has had a profound impact on how Democrats and Republicans interact. For nearly half a century, Democrats were the majority party, usually maintaining control of the presidency, the House, and the Senate. Republicans did not stand much chance of winning majority status, and Democrats could not conceive of losing it. Under such uncompetitive conditions, scant collective action was exerted by either party toward building or preserving a majority. Beginning in the 1980s, that changed, and most elections since have offered the prospect of a change of party control. Lee shows, through an impressive range of interviews and analysis, how competition for control of the government drives members of both parties to participate in actions that promote their own party’s image and undercut that of the opposition, including the perpetual hunt for issues that can score political points by putting the opposing party on the wrong side of public opinion. More often than not, this strategy stands in the way of productive bipartisan cooperation—and it is also unlikely to change as long as control of the government remains within reach for both parties.
"If I had my life to live over, I would do it all again, but this time I would be nastier."
—Jeannette Rankin (1880-1973)
Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress, stands tall among American icons. The representative from Montana won her seat at a time when women didn't have the right to vote in most states. Her firm stances inspired both admiration and fury across party lines, and she gained nearly canonical status among feminists and pacifists. In Jeannette Rankin: A Political Woman, James Lopach and Jean Luckowski demythologize Rankin, showing her to be a talented, driven, and deeply divided woman.
Until now, no biography has explored Rankin's inconsistencies. The authors extensively consulted the correspondence of her family members and contemporaries, uncovering ties between her politics and her familial and personal relationships. They reveal how she succeeded through her wealthy brother's influence as well as her own extraordinary efforts; how she drew inspiration not from her rural roots but from the radical hotbed of Greenwich Village; and how she championed an independent, woman-centered life while deferring to family.
Revealing her complexities along with her accomplishments, Jeannette Rankin: A Political Woman will be the definitive biography of this path-breaking politician for years to come.
Smith Morrill: Almost every land-grant college or university in the United States has a building named for him; but are his contributions truly recognized and understood? Here is the first biography on this renowned statesman in six decades. Representative and then senator from Vermont, Morrill began his tenure in Congress in 1855 and served continuously for forty-three years. His thirty- one years in the upper chamber alone earned him the title "Father of the Senate." Coy F. Cross reveals a complex and influential political figure who, as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, and then the Senate Finance Committee, influenced American economic policy for nearly fifty years.
Morrill's most-recognized achievements are the pieces of legislation that bear his name: the Morrill land-grant college acts of 1862 and 1890. His legacy, inspired by the Jeffersonian ideal of an educated electorate, revolutionized American higher education. Prior to this legislation, colleges and universities were open primarily to affluent white men and studies were limited largely to medicine, theology, and philosophy. Morrill's land-grant acts eventually opened American higher education to the working class, women, minorities, and immigrants. Since 1862, more than 20 million people have graduated from the 104 land-grant colleges and universities spawned by his grand vision. In this long-overdue study, Cross shows the "Father of Land-Grant Colleges" to be one of America's formative nineteenth- century political figures.
As the role and influence of professional sports has increased in American life, so has the relationship between the U.S. Congress and the professional sports world. Since WW II, Congress has held dozens of investigations and debated hundreds of bills on subjects such as organized baseball’s antitrust exemption, the NFL’s television blackout policy, the role of organized crime in professional boxing, the league mergers in professional football and basketball, and franchise relocations.
Lowe provides concise, interpretive narrative of Congress’s involvement in professional sports. Testimony is included from such colorful figures as Jackie Robinson, Casey Stengel, Pete Rozelle, Muhammad Ali, Sonny Liston, and Don King. Leading congressmen and senators are also included.
La Follette Insurgent Spirit
David P. Thelen University of Wisconsin Press, 1986 Library of Congress E664.L16T52 1985 | Dewey Decimal 973.910924
Robert M. La Follette and the Insurgent Spirit is a closely argued, lively, and readable biography of the central figure in the American Progressive movement. Wisconsin's “Fighting Bob” La Follette embodied the heart of Progressive sentiment and principle. He was a powerful force in shaping national political events between the eras of Populism and the New Deal
Focusing on cases involving major military action, foreign aid authorization, and key controversial votes in both legislative branches, Hinckley shows that—appearances to the contrary—Congress more often than not votes with the President, and has done so for the last few decades. Despite occasional flurries of activity on carefully chosen symbolic issues, most foreign policy issues never even make the Congressional agenda. Those that do are often dispatched with demands for reports that are left unread or with tough restrictions having built-in "escape provisions." Both branches, Hinckley argues, encourage this image of conflict and profit from the symbolic political capital it produces. This process comes to light in her analysis of aid to Nicaragua.
What Hinckley reveals is sharply at odds with conventional wisdom and unflattering to both the executive and the legislative branches of government. More than a critical reassessment, this book also proposes reforms than might result in real congressional participation in the making of foreign policy. With its insight into how our system of checks and balances works—and doesn't—this book takes a first step toward making the peoples' representatives accountable for crucial American interests in foreign matters.
Lincoln and Congress
William C. Harris Southern Illinois University Press, 2017 Library of Congress E459.H294 2017 | Dewey Decimal 973.7092
Winner, ISHS Annual Award for a Scholarly Publication, 2018
In Lincoln and Congress, William C. Harris reveals that the relationship between the president and Congress, though sometimes contentious, was cooperative rather than adversarial. During his time as president, Abraham Lincoln embodied his personal conviction that the nation’s executive should not interfere with the work of the legislature, and though often critical of him privately, in public congressional leaders compromised with and assisted the president to unite the North and minimize opposition to the war.
Despite the turbulence of the era and the consequent tensions within the government, the executive and legislative branches showed restraint in their dealings with each other. In fact, except in his official messages to Congress, Lincoln rarely lobbied for congressional action, and he vetoed only one important measure during his tenure as president. Many congressmen from Lincoln’s own party, although publicly supportive, doubted his leadership and sought a larger role for Congress in setting war policies. Though they controlled Congress, Republican legislators frequently differed among themselves in shaping legislation and in their reactions to events as well as in their relationships both with each other and with the president. Harris draws intriguing sketches of nineteenth-century congressional leaders and shows that, contrary to what historians have traditionally concluded, radical Republicans such as Representative Thaddeus Stevens and Senator Charles Sumner did not dominate their party or Congress. Harris includes the minority party’s role, showing that Northern Democrats and conservative Unionists of the border states generally opposed Republican policies but worked with them on support for the troops and on nonwar issues like the Pacific Railroad Bill.
Lincoln and Congress sheds new light on the influence of members of Congress and their relationship with Lincoln on divisive issues such as military affairs, finance, slavery, constitutional rights, reconstruction, and Northern political developments. Enjoyable both for casual Civil War readers and professional historians, this book provides an engaging narrative that helps readers redefine and understand the political partnership that helped the Union survive.
“When Lincoln took office, in March 1861, the national government had no power to touch slavery in the states where it existed. Lincoln understood this, and said as much in his first inaugural address, noting: ‘I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists.’” How, then, asks Paul Finkelman in the introduction to Lincoln, Congress, and Emancipation, did Lincoln—who personally hated slavery—lead the nation through the Civil War to January 1865, when Congress passed the constitutional amendment that ended slavery outright?
The essays in this book examine the route Lincoln took to achieve emancipation and how it is remembered both in the United States and abroad. The ten contributors—all on the cutting edge of contemporary scholarship on Lincoln and the Civil War—push our understanding of this watershed moment in US history in new directions. They present wide-ranging contributions to Lincoln studies, including a parsing of the sixteenth president’s career in Congress in the 1840s and a brilliant critique of the historical choices made by Steven Spielberg and writer Tony Kushner in the movie Lincoln, about the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment.
As a whole, these classroom-ready readings provide fresh and essential perspectives on Lincoln’s deft navigation of constitutional and political circumstances to move emancipation forward.
Contributors: L. Diane Barnes, Jenny Bourne, Michael Burlingame, Orville Vernon Burton, Seymour Drescher, Paul Finkelman, Amy S. Greenberg, James Oakes, Beverly Wilson Palmer, Matthew Pinsker
"Hamilton makes clear in this intelligent and sensitive biography [that] Hill, whose 45 years in Congress spanned the presidents from Calvin Coolidge to Lyndon Johnson, deserves to be remembered, both for the impressive legislative record he compiled and for the light he shed on southern liberalism in the 20th century."
-- Journal of Southern History
"Hamilton's fine book is based on extensive research [and] it will be of interest to a general audience as well as to scholars."
-- Journal of American History
"This is an important work about a highly influential lawmaker."
Virginia Van der Veer Hamilton is Professor Emerita of History at The University of Alabama at Birmingham and author of Hugo Black: The Alabama Years.
The Logic of Delegation
D. Roderick Kiewiet and Mathew D. McCubbins University of Chicago Press, 1991 Library of Congress JK1029.K54 1991 | Dewey Decimal 328.730769
Why do majority congressional parties seem unable to act as an effective policy-making force? They routinely delegate their power to others—internally to standing committees and subcommittees within each chamber, externally to the president and to the bureaucracy. Conventional wisdom in political science insists that such delegation leads inevitably to abdication—usually by degrees, sometimes precipitously, but always completely.
In The Logic of Delegation, however, D. Roderick Kiewiet and Mathew D. McCubbins persuasively argue that political scientists have paid far too much attention to what congressional parties can't do. The authors draw on economic and management theory to demonstrate that the effectiveness of delegation is determined not by how much authority is delegated but rather by how well it is delegated.
In the context of the appropriations process, the authors show how congressional parties employ committees, subcommittees, and executive agencies to accomplish policy goals. This innovative study will force a complete rethinking of classic issues in American politics: the "autonomy" of congressional committees; the reality of runaway federal bureaucracy; and the supposed dominance of the presidency in legislative-executive relations.
In recent years, many Americans and more than a few political scientists have come to believe that democratic deliberation in Congress—whereby judgments are made on the merits of policies reflecting the interests and desires of American citizens—is more myth than reality. Rather, pressure from special interest groups, legislative bargaining, and the desire of incumbents to be reelected are thought to originate in American legislative politics. While not denying such influences, Joseph M. Bessette argues that the institutional framework created by the founding fathers continues to foster a government that is both democratic and deliberative, at least to some important degree.
Drawing on original research, case studies of policymaking in Congress, and portraits of American lawmakers, Bessette demonstrates not only the limitations of nondeliberative explanations for how laws are made but also the continued vitality of genuine reasoning on the merits of public policy. Bessette discusses the contributions of the executive branch to policy deliberation, and looks at the controversial issue of the proper relationship of public opinion to policymaking.
Informed by Bessette's nine years of public service in city and federal government, The Mild Voice of Reason offers important insights into the real workings of American democracy, articulates a set of standards by which to assess the workings of our governing institutions, and clarifies the forces that promote or inhibit the collective reasoning about common goals so necessary to the success of American democracy.
"No doubt the best-publicized recent book-length work on Congress is columnist George Will's diatribe in praise of term limits in which the core of his complaint is that Congress does not deliberate in its decision-making. Readers who are inclined to share that fantasy would do well to consult the work of Joseph M. Bessette. He turns up massive amounts of material attesting to the centrality of deliberation in congressional life."—Nelson W. Polsby, Presidential Studies Quarterly
Scholars today take for granted the existence of a “wall of separation” dividing the three branches of the federal government. Neither Separate nor Equal: Congress in the 1790s demonstrates that such lines of separation among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, however, were neither so clearly delineated nor observed in the first decade of the federal government's history.
The first two essays describe the social and cultural milieu attending the movement of the republican court from New York to Philadelphia and the physical and social environment of Philadelphia in the 1790s. The following section examines the congressional career of New York's Egbert Benson, the senatorial career of Robert Morris as an expression of his economic interests, the vigorous opposition of Rep. William Branch Giles to the Federalist policies of the Washington administration, and finally the underappreciated role of congressional spouses.
The last five essays concentrate on areas of interbranch cooperation and conflict. In particular, they discuss the meaning of separation of powers in the 1790s, Washington as an active president with Congress, the contrast between Hamilton's and Jefferson's exercise of political influence with Congress, and John Adams's relationship with Congress during the Quasi-War crisis.
The essays in this collection, the second volume of the series Perspectives on the History of Congress, 1789-1801, originated in two conferences held in 1995 and 1996 by the United States Capitol Historical Society.
How important are local newspapers for disseminating information during election campaigns? A large body of literature theorizes that they should have very little effect on political behavior since the electorate is largely immune to any media influence. To what lengths would the average citizen go to obtain information about candidates should a media source suddenly be suspended during an election? Most of the literature argues that the average citizen would not seek out any additional information to supplement what they passively acquire. A newspaper strike in Pittsburgh during the 1992 elections afforded Jeffery J. Mondak an unparalleled opportunity to test these assumptions--and to prove them both wrong.
Nothing to Read compares the information gathering and voting behavior of residents in Pittsburgh and Cleveland during the 1992 campaign season. Comparable in demographics and political behavior, the only significant difference between the two cities was the availability of local newspapers. Using a research design that combines elements of the opinion survey and the laboratory experiment, the author exploited this situation to produce an unusually sound and thorough examination of media effects on voters.
The results are startling. First and foremost, Nothing to Read reasserts the role of the newspaper in the dissemination of information acquisition. It is the only media source that can rival television in the electoral arena, and it is often more important to voters as a source for local information, including information about U.S. House races. Nothing to Read also shows that voters are more active in seeking out information than typically postulated. Indeed, many voters even differentiate between media sources for information about Senate and House contests and sources for the presidential campaign. Within limits, the electorate is clearly not a passive news audience. Nothing to Read provides a wealth of information on such related topics as the relationship between partisanship and media influence, the interplay between media exposure and interpersonal political conversations and other social interaction, and newspapers' effect on coattail voting. A unique book, Mondak's important study lays a solid foundation for all future work on the relationship between American media and politics.
Jeffery J. Mondak is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Pittsburgh.
Although Oscar W. Underwood was considered a titan of his age, few American political figures have suffered such neglect as he. Except for his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in 1924, his political career is largely forgotten even in Alabama. The one place in which Underwood is well remembered is in the folklore of Congress, where he is widely regarded as a great party leader who had mastered the rules perhaps as thoroughly as any member of Congress. This mastery, together with steady work, personal magnetism, and a willingness to compromise, made him effective as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in formulating a majority program after the Democrats seized control of the House in 1910. Pat Harrison, Underwood's lieutenant as minority leader, referred to Underwood as the "greatest natural parliamentarian, the greatest leader of a law-making body that I ever saw."
--from the Preface to Oscar W. Underwood: A Political Biography
Since the Second World War, congressional parties have been characterized as declining in strength and influence. Research has generally attributed this decline to policy conflicts within parties, to growing electoral independence of members, and to the impact of the congressional reforms of the 1970s. Yet the 1980s witnessed a strong resurgence of parties and party leadership—especially in the House of Representatives.
Offering a concise and compelling explanation of the causes of this resurgence, David W. Rohde argues that a realignment of electoral forces led to a reduction of sectional divisions within the parties—particularly between the northern and southern Democrats—and to increased divergence between the parties on many important issues. He challenges previous findings by asserting that congressional reform contributed to, rather than restrained, the increase of partisanship. Among the Democrats, reforms siphoned power away from conservative and autocratic committee chairs and put control of those committees in the hands of Democratic committee caucuses, strengthening party leaders and making both party and committee leaders responsible to rank-and-file Democrats. Electoral changes increased the homogeneity of House Democrats while institutional reforms reduced the influence of dissident members on a consensus in the majority party. Rohde's accessible analysis provides a detailed discussion of the goals of the congressional reformers, the increased consensus among Democrats and its reinforcement by their caucus, the Democratic leadership's use of expanded powers to shape the legislative agenda, and the responses of House Republicans. He also addresses the changes in the relationship between the House majority and the president during the Carter and Reagan administrations and analyzes the legislative consequences of the partisan resurgence.
A readable, systematic synthesis of the many complex factors that fueled the recent resurgence of partisanship, Parties and Leaders in the Postreform House is ideal for course use.
"Paul Wellstone, we miss you. Few politicians, especially these days, are as willing to stand up and speak the truth as Wellstone was. In this era of flaccid rhetoric and pre-approved sound bites, he had the rare ability to ignite a fire in his audiences. Bill Lofy's excellent biography rekindles that fire and reminds us just how much politicians of Wellstone's honesty, character, and spine are needed---now more than ever. This book should inspire a new generation of voters and political leaders alike."
---Arianna Huffington, columnist and editor of HuffingtonPost.com
"This book captures the vibrant spirit of my friend Paul Wellstone---the fierce commitment to justice that defined his life, and that shapes his enduring legacy."
---U.S. Senator Russ Feingold
"Paul Wellstone was a great leader because he fused progressive idealism with a stubbornly pragmatic politics. Bill Lofy's book captures that dual commitment in his story of Wellstone's life, and also shows us the extraordinary human appeal that Wellstone emanated in his relationships with people in all walks of life. This book is an engaging read that also tells us a lot about the political practice to which we should aspire."
---Frances Fox Piven, author of The War at Home
"This vividly written book captures the life and personal qualities of the late Senator Paul Wellstone. In so doing it provides an illuminating gloss on Max Weber's seminal exposition of the political vocation. It is a jewel of a book."
-Fred Greenstein, Princeton University
Bill Lofy's fast-paced and readable biography tells the inspirational story of one of the most compelling figures in the history of American politics---Senator Paul Wellstone.
Yet Lofy's book is more than just the chronicle of Wellstone's life and political career; it's also an indispensable guide to what ails political life today. Readers politically inclined or not will find in its pages a handbook to the uncertain and often treacherous business of politics and a stirring example for living a courageous and honest life---whether as public servant or private individual.
Never a fiery orator nor a seeker of headlines, Phil Hart earned after eighteen years in congress the title of "The Conscience of the Senate" from colleauges on both sides of the aisle. Author and sponsor of critical legislation, particulalry in the areas of civil rights, antitrust enforcement, and consumer and and environmental protection, Hart took great pride in the fact that he was a leader in the Senate fight for the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He was intelligent and committed, idealistic and courageous, honest and humble, taking stands on contraversial issues. A role model for many, an inspiration for others, the extent of his influence was demonstrated in the fall of 1976 as he was retiring from the Senate and dying of cancer. In a tribute to his distinguished career, Senator Edward Kennedy suggested that the new Senate building be named after Hart. A bill sponsored by 85 senators passed, and the new structure became the Phil A. Hart Senate Office Building. "Naming it for Phil Hart was a nice gesture," wrote columnist Mary McGrory, "and if they could build his qualities...into the walls, we would have a Senate that would astound the world with its civility and enlightenment."
“Megabills” that package scores of legislative proposals into House and Senate bills are a phenomenon of the congressional reforms of the 1970s and the agenda changes of the 1980s. These bills generate unprecedented disagreements between the House and Senate, requiring congressional leaders, the president, committee chairs, and junior members to play new roles in this struggle for resolution.
Conference committees of hundreds of members, informal negotiations among party leaders, and preconference strategizing and behavior are among the new realities of bicameralism that are viewed in this study. These conferences are vital because they generally are the last arenas in which large-scale changes can be made in legislation.
Van Beek uses a case study approach that investigates the legislative histories of recent bills on the savings and loan bailout, the major trade bill of the late 1980s, and several budget reconciliation bills. His research is brought to life through personal experience as a legislative aide, direct observation of Congress at work, and interviews with members, staff and lobbyists.
In recent years, the executive branch's ability to maneuver legislation through Congress has become the measure of presidential success or failure. Although the victor of legislative battles is often readily discernible, debate is growing over how such victories are achieved.
In The President in the Legislative Arena, Jon R. Bond and Richard Fleisher depart dramatically from the concern with presidential influence that has dominated research on presidential-congressional relations for the past thirty years. Of the many possible factors involved in presidential success, those beyond presidential control have long been deemed unworthy of study. Bond and Fleisher disagree. Turning to democratic theory, they insist that it is vitally important to understand the conditions under which the executive brance prevails, regardless of the source of that success. Accordingly, they provide a thorough and unprecedented analysis of presidential success on congressional roll-call votes from 1953 through 1984. Their research demonstrates that the degree of cooperation between the two branches is much more systematically linked to the partisan and ideological makeup of Congress than to the president's bargaining ability and popularity. Thus the composition of Congress "inherited" by the president is the single most significant determinant of the success or failure of the executive branch.
Donald A. Ritchie Harvard University Press, 1991 Library of Congress PN4899.W3R58 1991 | Dewey Decimal 070.92273
Donald Ritchie examines the lives of early, self-styled congressional journalists such as Horace Greeley, Emily Briggs, Benjamin Perley Poore, Jane Grey Swisshelm, Horace White, James G. Blaine, and others who were positioned in the hub of government when the Civil War, the purchase of Alaska, the Crédit Mobilier scandal, and the Johnson impeachment hearings were making front-page news. Rich in anecdote, this lively book illuminates an important era of journalism and American history. The nascent issues of censorship, right to privacy, and conflict of interest that it describes are still very much with us.
Since the creation of minority-dominated congressional districts eight years ago, the Supreme Court has condemned the move as akin to "political apartheid," while many African-American leaders argue that such districts are required for authentic representation.
In the most comprehensive treatment of the subject to date, David Canon shows that the unintended consequences of black majority districts actually contradict the common wisdom that whites will not be adequately represented in these areas. Not only do black candidates need white votes to win, but this crucial "swing" vote often decides the race. And, once elected, even the black members who appeal primarily to black voters usually do a better job than white members of walking the racial tightrope, balancing the needs of their diverse constituents.
Ultimately, Canon contends, minority districting is good for the country as a whole. These districts not only give African Americans a greater voice in the political process, they promote a politics of commonality—a biracial politics—rather than a politics of difference.
David Obey has in his nearly forty years in the U.S. House of Representatives worked to bring economic and social justice to America’s working families. In 2007 he assumed the chair of the Appropriations Committee and is positioned to pursue his priority concerns for affordable health care, education, environmental protection, and a foreign policy consistent with American democratic ideals.
Here, in his autobiography, Obey looks back on his journey in politics beginning with his early years in the Wisconsin Legislature, when Wisconsin moved through eras of shifting balance between Republicans and Democrats. On a national level Obey traces, as few others have done, the dramatic changes in the workings of the U.S. Congress since his first election to the House in 1969. He discusses his own central role in the evolution of Congress and ethics reforms and his view of the recent Bush presidency—crucial chapters in our democracy, of interest to all who observe politics and modern U.S. history.
Best Books for Regional General Audiences, selected by the American Association of School Librarians, and Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the Public Library Association
Public opinion is one of the most elusive and complex concepts in democratic theory, and we do not fully understand its role in the political process. Reading Public Opinion offers one provocative approach for understanding how public opinion fits into the empirical world of politics. In fact, Susan Herbst finds that public opinion, surprisingly, has little to do with the mass public in many instances.
Herbst draws on ideas from political science, sociology, and psychology to explore how three sets of political participants—legislative staffers, political activists, and journalists—actually evaluate and assess public opinion. She concludes that many political actors reject "the voice of the people" as uninformed and nebulous, relying instead on interest groups and the media for representations of public opinion. Her important and original book forces us to rethink our assumptions about the meaning and place of public opinion in the realm of contemporary democratic politics.
Are our elections for sale? Americans have long asked this question in the face of skyrocketing campaign spending by candidates and parties. Then, in the 1990s, came a wave of wealthy individuals whose deep pockets seemed to be buying political offices across the country. Our worst suspicions were confirmed. Or were they? What effect do self-financers really have on electoral outcomes? Jennifer Steen's authoritative empirical study of self-financed candidates is a landmark in American politics. Steen thoroughly dispels the notion that self-funded candidates can buy legislative seats, proving that the vast majority of self-financers do not win their elections. Her book gives us a truer understanding of self-financers' actual influence on campaign competition and rhetoric.
Jennifer A. Steen is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Boston College and a former political consultant. She is one of the nation's leading authorities on self-financed candidates.
We take it for granted that every state has two representatives in the United States Senate. Apply the "one person, one vote" standard, however, and the Senate is the most malapportioned legislature in the democratic world.
But does it matter that California's 32 million people have the same number of Senate votes as Wyoming's 480,000? Frances Lee and Bruce Oppenheimer systematically show that the Senate's unique apportionment scheme profoundly shapes legislation and representation. The size of a state's population affects the senator-constituent relationship, fund-raising and elections, strategic behavior within the Senate, and, ultimately, policy decisions. They also show that less populous states consistently receive more federal funding than states with more people. In sum, Lee and Oppenheimer reveal that Senate apportionment leaves no aspect of the institution untouched.
This groundbreaking book raises new questions about one of the key institutions of American government and will interest anyone concerned with issues of representation.
One of the most important changes in Congress in decades were the extensive congressional reforms of the 1970s, which moved the congressional budget process into the focus of congressional policy making and shifted decision making away from committees. This overwhelming attention to the federal budget allowed party leaders to emerge as central decision makers.
Palazzolo traces the changing nature of the Speaker of the House's role in the congressional budget process from the passage of the Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, through the 100th Congress in 1988. As the deficit grew and budget politics became more partisan in the 1980s, the Speaker became more involved in policy-related functions, such as setting budget priorities and negotiating budget agreements with Senate leaders and the president. Consequently, the Speaker's role as leader of the institution was subordinated to his role as a party leader.
Winner of the William Anderson Award of the American Political Science Association
Explores the role of state politics in shaping the national agenda during the 1980s. By focusing on the federal tax policy from 1978-1986, Berkman argues that a conservative political agenda slowly replaced the liberal agenda dominant since World War II.
The state roots model asserts that national policymakers, particularly members of Congress, are products of their state political systems and environments. Berkman applies this model to the tax-cutting policies that took hold nationally in 1978, before Regan came to office, and continued in the tax acts of 1981 and 1986.
Between 1963 and 1968, environmentalists were outraged when western water interests sought to construct two dams in Grand Canyon as part of the Central Arizona Project. The Sierra Club led a national campaign opposed to the project, which most environmental historians credit with defeating the dams. In the wake of its victory, the Sierra Club has been lauded as the savior of Grand Canyon. Byron Pearson now takes a closer look at history to show that the Sierra Club's ability to mobilize public opinion did not appreciably influence Congress, where the issue was actually decided. When Arizona congressman Stewart Udall became Interior Secretary in 1960, he promoted a plan to import water from the Pacific Northwest to California in order to placate that state's opposition to the CAP with its proposed dams. When this support dissolved in the face of resistance from Washington senator Henry Jackson, who chaired the Senate Interior Committee, the pragmatic Udall sought passage of a bare-bones CAP bill without the dams before he and Arizona senator Carl Hayden retired. Despite this congressional deal-making, the Sierra Club received credit for blocking the dams and was propelled to the undisputed leadership of the environmental movement. Using the myth that it had saved the Canyon, the club transformed its image of power into real political influence after Congress passed the National Environmental Policy Act in 1970, giving environmental advocates access to the policy-making process for the first time. In revealing how the Sierra Club played a much lesser role in blocking the dams than they would have had the public believe, Pearson contrasts the ways in which the controversy unfolded in the court of public opinion versus the actual political process. He takes readers into congressional chambers and conference rooms, reconstructing the legislative process to convey the full flavor of this political give-and-take. Based on research in archives from all over the country, Still the Wild River Runs will itself be a subject of controversy as it challenges long-standing notions about the power of environmental lobbies. By putting this chain of historical events in clearer perspective, it can give citizens concerned with future causes a better understanding of the political process and what really moves it.
Taking the Initiative shows that majority party leaders in Congress have set and successfully pushed their own policy agendas for decades—revealing the 'Contract With America' as only the most recent, and certainly not the most successful, example of independent policy making.
Cutting deeply into the politics and personalities of three decades of party leadership, John B. Bader probes the strategies and evaluates the effectiveness of House and Senate leaders operating in a divided government, when Congress and the presidency are controlled by different political parties. He provides a historical context for analyzing the"Contract" and shows that aggressive agenda-setting has long been a regular feature of majority party leadership.
Bader interviewed more than seventy congressional leaders, staff members, party officials, and political consultants, including speakers Thomas "Tip" O'Neill and Jim Wright, for this book. He supplemented these interviews with research in largely unexplored archival materials such as press conference transcripts, notes from White House leadership meetings, and staff memoranda on strategy.
For most bills in American legislatures, the issue of turf—or which committee has jurisdiction over a bill—can make all the difference. Turf governs the flow and fate of all legislation. In this innovative study, David C. King explains how jurisdictional areas for committees are created and changed in Congress.
Political scientists have long maintained that jurisdictions are relatively static, changing only at times of dramatic reforms. Not so, says King. Combining quantitative evidence with interviews and case studies, he shows how on-going turf wars make jurisdictions fluid.
According to King, jurisdictional change stems both from legislators seeking electoral advantage and from nonpartisan House parliamentarians referring ambiguous bills to committees with the expertise to handle the issues. King brilliantly dissects the politics of turf grabbing and at the same time shows how parliamentarians have become institutional guardians of the legislative process.
Original and insightful, Turf Wars will be valuable to those interested in congressional studies and American politics more generally.
The party whips are essential components of the U.S. legislative system, responsible for marshalling party votes and keeping House and Senate party members in line. In The Whips, C. Lawrence Evans offers a comprehensive exploration of coalition building and legislative strategy in the U.S. House and Senate, ranging from the relatively bipartisan, committee-dominated chambers of the 1950s to the highly polarized congresses of the 2000s. In addition to roll call votes and personal interviews with lawmakers and staff, Evans examines the personal papers of dozens of former leaders of the House and Senate, especially former whips. These records allowed Evans to create a database of nearly 1,500 internal leadership polls on hundreds of significant bills across five decades of recent congressional history.
The result is a rich and sweeping understanding of congressional party leaders at work. Since the whips provide valuable political intelligence, they are essential to understanding how coalitions are forged and deals are made on Capitol Hill.
“This book will make a real contribution to the history of McCarthyism, the history of Tennessee, and the history of TVA.” —Russell B. Olwell, At Work in the Atomic City: A Labor and Social History of Oak Ridge, Tennessee
They came from all corners of the country-fifteen young, idealistic, educated men and women drawn to Knoxville, Tennessee, to work for the Tennessee Valley Authority, one of the first of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal projects. Mostly holding entry-level jobs, these young people became friends and lovers, connecting to one another at work and through other social and political networks..
What the fifteen failed to realize was that these activities-union organizing and, for most, membership in the Communist Party-would plunge them into a maelstrom that would endanger, and for some, destroy their livelihoods, social standing, and careers. White Collar Radicals follows their lives from New Deal activism in the 1930s through the 1940s and 1950s government investigations into what were perceived as subversive deeds.
Aaron D. Purcell shows how this small group of TVA idealists was unwillingly thrust from obscurity into the national spotlight, victims and participants of the second? [not sure is it is needed] Red Scare in the years following World War II. The author brings into sharp focus the determination of the government to target and expose alleged radicals of the 1930s during the early Cold War period. The book also demonstrates how the national hysteria affected individual lives.
White Collar Radicals is both a historical study and a cautionary tale. The Knoxville Fifteen, who endured the dark days of the McCarthy Era, now have their story told for the first time-a story that offers modern-day lessons on freedom, civil liberties, and the authority of the government.
Aaron D. Purcell is an associate professor and director of special collections at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg
Why do some voters split their ballots, selecting a Republican for one office and a Democrat for another? Why do voters often choose one party to control the White House while the other controls the Congress? Barry Burden and David Kimball address these fundamental puzzles of American elections by explaining the causes of divided government and debunking the myth that voters prefer the division of power over one-party control. Why Americans Split Their Tickets links recent declines in ticket-splitting to sharpening policy differences between parties and demonstrates why candidates' ideological positions still matter in American elections.
"Burden and Kimball have given us the most careful and thorough analysis of split-ticket voting yet. It won't settle all of the arguments about the origins of ticket splitting and divided government, but these arguments will now be much better informed. Why Americans Split Their Tickets is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the major trends in U.S. electoral politics of the past several decades."
-Gary Jacobson, University of California, San Diego
"When voters split their tickets or produce divided government, it is common to attribute the outcome as a strategic verdict or a demand for partisan balance. Burden and Kimball strongly challenge such claims. With a thorough and deft use of statistics, they portray ticket-splitting as a by-product of the separate circumstances that drive the outcomes of the different electoral contests. This will be the book to be reckoned with on the matter of ticket splitting."
-Robert Erikson, Columbia University
"[Burden and Kimball] offset the expansive statistical analysis by delving into the historical circumstances and results of recent campaigns and elections. ... [They] make a scholarly and informative contribution to the understanding of the voting habits of the American electorate-and the resulting composition of American government."
-Shant Mesrobian, NationalJournal.com
For decades, advocates of congressional reforms have repeatedly attempted to clean up the House committee system, which has been called inefficient, outmoded, unaccountable, and even corrupt. Yet these efforts result in little if any change, as members of Congress who are generally satisfied with existing institutions repeatedly obstruct what could fairly be called innocuous reforms.
What lies behind the House's resistance to change? Challenging recent explanations of this phenomenon, Scott Adler contends that legislators resist rearranging committee powers and jurisdictions for the same reason they cling to the current House structure—the ambition for reelection. The system's structure works to the members' advantage, helping them obtain funding (and favor) in their districts. Using extensive evidence from three major reform periods—the 1940s, 1970s, and 1990s—Adler shows that the reelection motive is still the most important underlying factor in determining the outcome of committee reforms, and he explains why committee reform in the House has never succeeded and probably never will.
Recent research on the U.S. House of Representatives largely focuses on the effects of partisanship, but the strikingly less frequent studies of the Senate still tend to treat parties as secondary considerations in a chamber that gives its members far more individual leverage than congressmen have. In response to the recent increase in senatorial partisanship, Why Not Parties? corrects this imbalance with a series of original essays that focus exclusively on the effects of parties in the workings of the upper chamber.
Illuminating the growing significance of these effects, the contributors explore three major areas, including the electoral foundations of parties, partisan procedural advantage, and partisan implications for policy. In the process, they investigate such issues as whether party discipline can overcome Senate mechanisms that invest the most power in individuals and small groups; how parties influence the making of legislation and the distribution of pork; and whether voters punish senators for not toeing party lines. The result is a timely corrective to the notion that parties don’t matter in the Senate—which the contributors reveal is far more similar to the lower chamber than conventional wisdom suggests.
In 1968, at the peak of the Vietnam War, centrist Congressman Melvin Laird (R-WI) agreed to serve as Richard Nixon’s secretary of defense. It was not, Laird knew, a move likely to endear him to the American public—but as he later said, “Nixon couldn’t find anybody else who wanted the damn job.” For the next four years, Laird deftly navigated the morass of the war he had inherited. Lampooned as a “missile head,” but decisive in crafting an exit strategy, he doggedly pursued his program of Vietnamization, initiating the withdrawal of U.S. military personnel and gradually ceding combat responsibilities to South Vietnam. In fighting to bring the troops home faster, pressing for more humane treatment of POWs, and helping to end the draft, Laird employed a powerful blend of disarming Midwestern candor and Washington savvy, as he sought a high moral road bent on Nixon’s oft-stated (and politically instrumental) goal of peace with honor.
The first book ever to focus on Laird’s legacy, this authorized biography reveals his central and often unrecognized role in managing the crisis of national identity sparked by the Vietnam War—and the challenges, ethical and political, that confronted him along the way. Drawing on exclusive interviews with Laird, Henry Kissinger, Gerald Ford, and numerous others, author Dale Van Atta offers a sympathetic portrait of a man striving for open government in an atmosphere fraught with secrecy. Van Atta illuminates the inner workings of high politics: Laird’s behind-the-scenes sparring with Kissinger over policy, his decisions to ignore Nixon’s wilder directives, his formative impact on arms control and health care, his key role in the selection of Ford for vice president, his frustration with the country’s abandonment of Vietnamization, and, in later years, his unheeded warning to Donald Rumsfeld that “it’s a helluva lot easier to get into a war than to get out of one.”
Best Books for Regional Special Interests, selected by the American Association of School Librarians, and Best Books for Special Interests, selected by the Public Library Association