Congressional Government: A Study in American Politics

Courier Corporation
Free sample

A remarkable work of scholarship, Congressional Government addresses the difficulties inherent in the American Constitution's separation of legislative and executive powers. Woodrow Wilson wrote this powerful political tract as his doctoral dissertation, and it contains the essence of the future president's political reasoning. A popular and critical success upon its 1885 publication, it remains remarkably vital more than a century later.
Wilson argues that in the years following the Civil War, the legislature received unfair advantages from the system of checks and balances, threatening the effectiveness of the constitutionally mandated separation of powers. He proposes the British parliamentary system as an alternative model of openness and responsibility, citing numerous examples of its effectiveness. Frequently quoted by constitutional scholars and advocates of government reform, Congressional Government remains essential to discussions of the balance of power within the U.S. government. This edition features an insightful Introduction by political theorist Walter Lippmann.
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About the author

Walter Lippmann, an American political journalist, dominated political journalism in the United States from World War I almost until his death. In his last year as a student at Harvard University, he was an assistant to the philosopher George Santayana. He read extensively in Freud and was in every sense an "intellectual" journalist. "His Public Opinion" (1922) became the intellectual anchor for the study of public opinion, and it is widely read today. He came close in this book to questioning whether citizens can possibly make rational, democratic decisions. The source of the difficulty is not our irrationality but the inherent nature of the modern system of mass communication; information must be condensed into brief slogans. These slogans become stereotypes, a concept that Lippmann brilliantly analyzed prior to its acceptance by psychologists. As a political columnist, he wrote on many topics, particularly on foreign relations, and he held a position of prestige in Washington's press corps that has never been matched. Alastair Buchan wrote in 1974 that Walter Lippman was "the name that opened every door.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Courier Corporation
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Published on
Dec 3, 2012
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Pages
224
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ISBN
9780486148984
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / American Government / Legislative Branch
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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One of the genuine classics of American political science literature, Constitutional Government in the United States is also a subtle and influential criticism of the American founding fathers produced during the Progressive Era. Wilson's interpretation of the Constitution shaped the thought of scholars and students of American politics. His definition of constitutional government and the place of the United States in the development of constitutional theory continues to shape discourse today. Wilson discusses the three branches of government in the United States, the relation between the states and the federal government and party government in a manner quite distinct from the founding fathers.

Constitutional Government has its origins in a series of lectures Wilson delivered at Columbia University in 1907. It is carefully organized around three separate but mutually supporting arguments. First, is the idea that constitutional government evolves historically from primitive beginnings of the state toward a universal and ideal form. Second, this idea of historical evolution contains within it an analysis of how and where the Constitution fits into the evolutionary process as a whole. Third, the historical thesis itself provides a prescription for bringing American government, and with it the Constitution, into accord with his first principle of the ideal form of modern government.

In his new introduction, Sidney A. Pearson explores how, with Constitutional Government in the United States, Wilson helped create a new genre of political writing using the point of view of a "literary politician." He discusses Wilson's intention to replace the constitutional argument of the founders with one of his own based on the application of Darwinian metaphor in a political science framework. And he examines the differences between the views launched by Wilson and those set forth by James Madison in The Federalist. This is an essential work for all interested in the evolution of American political thought.

Congress is the first branch of government in the American system, write Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, but now it is a broken branch, damaged by partisan bickering and internal rancor. The Broken Branch offers both a brilliant diagnosis of the cause of Congressional decline and a much-needed blueprint for change, from two experts who understand politics and revere our institutions, but believe that Congress has become deeply dysfunctional. Mann and Ornstein, two of the nations most renowned and judicious scholars of government and politics, bring to light the historical roots of Congress's current maladies, examining 40 years of uninterrupted Democratic control of the House and the stunning midterm election victory of 1994 that propelled Republicans into the majority in both House and Senate. The byproduct of that long and grueling but ultimately successful Republican campaign, the authors reveal, was a weakened institution bitterly divided between the parties. They highlight the dramatic shift in Congress from a highly decentralized, committee-based institution into a much more regimented one in which party increasingly trumps committee. The resultant changes in the policy process--the demise of regular order, the decline of deliberation, and the weakening of our system of checks and balances--have all compromised the role of Congress in the American Constitutional system. Indeed, Speaker Dennis Hastert has unabashedly stated that his primary responsibility is to pass the president's legislative program--identifying himself more as a lieutenant of the president than a steward of the house. From tax cuts to the war against Saddam Hussein to a Medicare prescription drug benefit, the legislative process has been bent to serve immediate presidential interests and have often resulted in poorly crafted and stealthily passed laws. Strong majority leadership in Congress, the authors conclude, led not to a vigorous exertion of congressional authority but to a general passivity in the face of executive power. A vivid portrait of an institution that has fallen far from the aspirations of our Founding Fathers, The Broken Branch highlights the costs of a malfunctioning Congress to national policymaking, and outlines what must be done to repair the damage.
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author, "a brilliant biography"* of the 28th president of the United States.
*Doris Kearns Goodwin

One hundred years after his inauguration, Woodrow Wilson still stands as one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century, and one of the most enigmatic. And now, after more than a decade of research and writing, Pulitzer Prize–winning author A. Scott Berg has completed Wilson—the most personal and penetrating biography ever written about the twenty-eighth President.

In addition to the hundreds of thousands of documents in the Wilson Archives, Berg was the first biographer to gain access to two recently discovered caches of papers belonging to those close to Wilson. From this material, Berg was able to add countless details—even several unknown events—that fill in missing pieces of Wilson’s character, and cast new light on his entire life.

From the visionary Princeton professor who constructed a model for higher education in America to the architect of the ill-fated League of Nations, from the devout Commander in Chief who ushered the country through its first great World War to the widower of intense passion and turbulence who wooed a second wife with hundreds of astonishing love letters, from the idealist determined to make the world “safe for democracy” to the stroke-crippled leader whose incapacity—and the subterfuges around it—were among the century’s greatest secrets, from the trailblazer whose ideas paved the way for the New Deal and the Progressive administrations that followed to the politician whose partisan battles with his opponents left him a broken man, and ultimately, a tragic figure—this is a book at once magisterial and deeply emotional about the whole of Wilson’s life, accomplishments, and failings. This is not just Wilson the icon—but Wilson the man.

INCLUDES PHOTOGRAPHS
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.
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