The Substance of Representation: Congress, American Political Development, and Lawmaking

Princeton University Press
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Lawmaking is crucial to American democracy because it completely defines and regulates the public life of the nation. Yet despite its importance, political scientists spend very little time studying the direct impact that the politics surrounding a particular issue has on lawmaking. The Substance of Representation draws on a vast range of historical and empirical data to better understand how lawmaking works across different policy areas. Specifically, John Lapinski introduces a theoretically grounded method for parsing policy issues into categories, and he shows how policymaking varies in predictable ways based on the specific issue area being addressed.

Lapinski examines the ways in which key factors that influence policymaking matter for certain types of policy issues, and he includes an exhaustive look at how elite political polarization shifts across these areas. He considers how Congress behaves according to the policy issue at hand, and how particular areas--such as war, sovereignty issues, and immigration reform--change legislative performance. Relying on records of all Congressional votes since Reconstruction and analyzing voting patterns across policy areas from the late nineteenth to late twentieth centuries, Lapinski provides a comprehensive historical perspective on lawmaking in order to shed light on current practices.

Giving a clear picture of Congressional behavior in the policymaking process over time, The Substance of Representation provides insights into the critical role of American lawmaking.

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About the author

John S. Lapinski is associate professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania and the deputy director of elections at NBC News. He is the coeditor of The Macropolitics of Congress (Princeton).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Sep 8, 2013
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Pages
192
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ISBN
9781400848638
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Language
English
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Genres
Law / General
Law / Government / General
Political Science / American Government / Legislative Branch
Political Science / General
Political Science / Political Process / General
Political Science / Public Policy / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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How do public laws, treaties, Senate confirmations, and other legislative achievements help us to gain insight into how our governmental system performs?

This well-argued book edited by Scott Adler and John Lapinski is the first to assess our political institutions by looking at what the authors refer to as legislative accomplishment. The book moves beyond current research on Congress that focuses primarily on rules, internal structure, and the microbehavior of individual lawmakers, to look at the mechanisms that govern how policy is enacted and implemented in the United States. It includes essays on topics ranging from those dealing with the microfoundations of congressional output, to large N empirical analyses that assess current theories of lawmaking, to policy-centered case studies.

All of the chapters take a Congress-centered perspective on macropolicy while still appreciating the importance of other branches of government in explaining policy accomplishment. The Macropolitics of Congress shines light on promising pathways for the exploration of such key issues as the nature of political representation. It will make a significant contribution to the study of Congress and, more generally, to our understanding of American politics. Contributors include E. Scott Adler, David Brady, Charles M. Cameron, Brandice Canes-Wrone, Robert S. Erikson, Grace R. Freedman, Valerie Heitshusen, John D. Huber, Ira Katznelson, Keith Krehbiel, John S. Lapinski, David Leblang, Michael B. MacKuen, David R. Mayhew, Nolan McCarty, Charles R. Shipan, James A. Stimson, and Garry Young.

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The central paradox of southern politics was how such a highly diverse region could be transformed into a coherent and unified bloc—a veritable nation within a nation that exercised extraordinary influence in politics. This book shows how this unlikely transformation occurred in Congress, the institutional site where the South's representatives forged a new relationship with the rest of the nation. Drawing on an innovative theory of southern lawmaking, in-depth analyses of key historical sources, and congressional data, Southern Nation traces how southern legislators confronted the dilemma of needing federal investment while opposing interference with the South's racial hierarchy, a problem they navigated with mixed results before choosing to prioritize white supremacy above all else.

Southern Nation reveals how southern members of Congress gradually won for themselves an unparalleled role in policymaking, and left all southerners—whites and blacks—disadvantaged to this day. At first, the successful defense of the South's capacity to govern race relations left southern political leaders locally empowered but marginalized nationally. With changing rules in Congress, however, southern representatives soon became strategically positioned to profoundly influence national affairs.

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