In this lively and compelling text, political scientist and former U.S. Senator Fred R. Harris offers a penetrating examination of the development of the U.S. Senate from its earliest days, with particular emphasis on its post-war transformation from a close-knit, deliberative body revered as the "Citadel of Democracy" under the firm leadership of ...
In this lively and compelling text, political scientist and former U.S. Senator Fred R. Harris offers a penetrating examination of the development of the U.S. Senate from its earliest days, with particular emphasis on its post-war transformation from a close-knit, deliberative body revered as the "Citadel of Democracy" under the firm leadership of Lyndon Baines Johnson, to its current status as an institution whose members are so independent and outward-looking, so "nationalized," that efficient collective action is often impossible. Harris shows how the efficiency of the Senate in Johnson's heyday stemmed from its undemocratic emphasis on seniority and tradition. Today, he writes, power has become fragmented, with greater partisanship and less cooperation, as important developments--including rapid communications, the increasing influence of powerful national interest groups, changes in the seniority system, and the dramatic expansion of senatorial staff--have transformed the political landscape, making senators more individualistic and less inclined to defer to senior members. Harris argues that, ironically, as the Senate has become more responsive, it has also become less responsible--and more prone to inaction as it has become more democratic in its own procedures. He draws on recent events such as the John Tower and Clarence Thomas nominations to illustrate his thesis, and lays out an agenda for change that includes campaign finance reform, changes in Senate rules, and a reshaped budget process to restore efficiency while preserving the trend towards responsiveness and democracy in the Senate. Engaging as well as enlightening, _Deadlock or Decision_ gives students of political science, government, and law invaluable insight into the U.S. political system.
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