Study Guides (248,410)
United States (123,379)
Boston College (3,492)
POLI 2309 (8)
Quiz

POLI 2309 Quiz: Congress 1

26 Pages
57 Views
Unlock Document

Department
Political Science
Course
POLI 2309
Professor
David Hopkins
Semester
Spring

Description
U.S. CONGRESS Class Notes Congress and the Constitution • Before the Constitution o Articles of Confederation (1781) • Unicameral legislature with equal apportionment • Not only was the government weak in the powers granted, but it was also weak in its policy making apparatus • Small states were underrepresented • You needed a supermajority to pass laws in this setup - 9/13 makes it too tough to function effectively • You needed a unanimous vote to amend the Articles so you couldn't just amend it - you needed a whole new document. • Ineffective federal government • Federal government was given very few powers • No taxing power given to the government - they were forced to rely on contributions from the States • Huge debt left over from the revolution that needed to be paid and nothing was paying that • No jurisdiction over commerce between states • Shay's Rebellion and other debtor problems occurred o Convention in Philadelphia (1787) ostensibly intended to "revise" the Articles • James Madison: The Need for a New Constitution o Strengthen the powers of the national government compared to the states o Give large states more power under the Articles of Confederation • Because Madison was from Virginia he was not a fan of taking power away from the larger states o Balance republican principles with wariness of "popular passion" • Tried to create a balance between the principles of popular rule without all the tyranny of the majority. • Madison's Virginia Plan o Bicameral legislature with both houses apportioned by state population • Lower chamber directly elected • Upper chamber elected by lower chamber (with influence from state legislatures) • Madison says the bigger states should have more power in both the lower and the upper chamber - base it off population o Federal government gains wide authority to legislate • All national problems should be open for action by this new national legislature o Federal government can exercise veto over state laws • Clearly puts the federal government in a position of supremacy over the states o The executive is selected by the lower chamber of the legislature. • Framers were pushing for an executive branch • Indirect electoral approach - lower selects the upper, lower selects the executive. 1 • Madison's Opponents Introduce the "New Jersey Plan" o Maintains the unicameral federal legislature o Members of Congress are elected by state legislatures • We do not have direct election - they are indirectly elected through the state o Each state maintains equal representation • Favored by the small states (obviously) o Federal government gains the power to tax and regulate commerce • Take away power to veto - enumerate the powers the government should have o Vague about executive and judiciary branches • Ultimate Solution: The "Connecticut Compromise" o Bicameral national legislature o Lower house: the House of Representatives • Apportioned by state population • Members elected directly by the citizens • Members serve two-year terms o Upper house: the Senate • Two senators per state regardless of population • Process of selection is left to the states • Members serve six-year staggered terms o Enumerated powers • Supremacy clause - federal law has supremacy over state laws • Elastic clause • Necessary and proper clause o Electoral college • The Anti-Federalists: Opposition to the Constitution o One area of contention: size of the new Congress • House in 1789: 65 members • Senate in 1789: 26 members o Why does the size matter? • If there are less House and Senate members, they will represent a larger number of constituents, and it would be much harder to get to know every person in a larger district. If you have more constituents, the representatives will likely get to know the wealthy and important people rather than the average people. o Federal Farmer: Congress would be too far removed from the citizenry o Melancton Smith: Congress should be "a true picture of the people" • Wanted each representative to represent 30,000 people so the max district size would be that. • The Federalist Papers: Selling the Constitution o Federalist 10 • Responding to the Anti-Federalists • Problem of the "mischiefs of faction" 2 • Tend to look out for their own faction rather than the good of the whole country • Factions are interested only in the interests of the faction - not the common good • "Extended republic" as solution • If we give the national government more power, and we make the constituencies bigger rather than smaller, then we decrease the probability that a majority faction captures the levers of power. No single faction is as likely to predominate. • Madison is saying that smaller congress means bigger districts, bigger districts means more constituents, more constituents means less more diversity, more diversity means less factions. o Federalist 57 • House of Representatives as "people's house" • Elected every two years, so it represents the people. • Few requirements for membership in House • You must be an American citizen for 7 years, must be 25 years old, must be living in the state, but there is no race or gender requirement. This is the representative legitimacy of the House. • Importance of electoral incentives • It is in the representatives interests to get reelected, so if the representative is only about the few and not for the many than you can just vote them out. They have an incentive to satisfy the entire constituency. • Separation of Powers: Congress o Logic of the separation of powers • Three branches are set up, and their powers are defined. There are checks and balances to prevent one branch getting too powerful. o Constitutional powers given to Congress • Subject to presidential veto • Most powers by Congress are subject to presidential veto. • Not subject to presidential veto • They can impeach the president • Members can be expelled because Congress is in charge of its own members. • Impeach supreme court and other federal judgements • Can establish their own leaders, enacts their own rules and procedures, and their times of adjournment. • Cannot be a member of two or more branches at the same time. • Congressional speech and debate is protected from executive branch incursion. • FBI cannot go into the property of the legislative branch and seize documents. • There was a court case about this, and the perp won a partial victory. o Limits on infringement from other branches • Separation of Powers: Presidency o Selection of the president • Electoral college 3 • But House chooses if there's no EC majority o Creation of a single executive o Congressional checks on presidential power • Two-thirds vote in Congress can override a veto • Appointments of cabinet and federal judge positions need Congressional approval • Heads of administrative agencies need Congressional approval • President is the commander-in-chief but only Congress can declare war • President negotiates and submits treaties, but actual ratification is up to Senate • Impeachment process is up to Congress o How powerful was the president intended to be? • Madison speaks about the legislative branch predominating - we shouldn't be worried about the executive. • Possibly trying to counter the arguments of the anti-federalists who were very worried about the tyranny of the executive • Federalist 51: Madison Argues for the Separation of Powers o Prevents tyranny by "ambition countering ambition" • We set up incentives for everyone, but one incentive balances out another. For example, the ambition for success in the executive branch would be counteracted by equally ambitious individuals in the legislative and judiciary branches. o Difficult for a single faction to capture control of more than one branch o What about the Virginia Plan? • Change Since 1789: Rise of the Imperial Presidency? o Presidential dominance in foreign policy and use of the American military • The constitutional provisions relating to foreign and military affairs, in practice, have worked out different than what the original text of the constitution may have intended • For example, the War Powers Resolution allows the president to wage war for 60 days before Congressional approval • This doesn't make sense because the executive is the commander and chief and the Congress is the only ones who can really wage war. • Last time Congress formally declared war was in WWII - we have been involved in at least 5 other wars since then without Congress saying a word • The commander in chief powers have turned out more powerful than the Congressional powers. o Expansion of the executive branch (White House, bureaucracy) • We look to the president to solve the problems of society and we expect presidential action to be the response to these various demands. This has led to the expansion of the executive branch in regards to the White House. • We have a bunch of federal agencies now, like the FDA, the CIA, the FBI, and NASA who are under the executive branch that truly tip the powers away from the legislative to the executive branch. • The executive branch is seen as a sole individual who is able to make major change, not the slow-moving and disagreement-ridden Congress 4 • When the average person thinks about what the government does and can do, they often look towards the president rather than congress to legislate. o Limitation of congressional oversight (CIA "torture bubble" example) • The CIA is an executive branch agency, but there are literal checks on congressional oversight • The executive branch doesn't want Congress in the loop of CIA activities, especially in top-secret endeavors. This is a problem with national security to balance secrecy and staying true to the checks and balances of the government. • Partisanship can erode relations between parties - when the President is of the same party as the President, Congress does not want to get embarrassing information out about their president. However, when the parties are not the same, Congress can be very proactive with oversight when the Congress is Republican while the President is Democratic, for example. • A lot of the worries the Framers had about human nature has turned into that of partisan nature. This was not anticipated. • Change Since 1789: Rise of the Imperial Congress? o Use of the constitutional text to justify expansion of federal power over time • "Necessary and proper" cause • Interstate commerce clause • A lot of things can justify effecting interstate Congress, giving a lot of power to Congress about what they can legislate on. o Conservative critique: Congress has overstepped its legitimate constitutional authority • Post-2011 House has emphasized "constitutionalism" • There has been a provision enacted that a member of Congress has to specifically sight the text in the Constitution that empowers Congress to act. • Checks and Balances Today: Promoting Liberty or Gridlock? o The separation-of-powers system inhibits "responsiveness" of government o Rise of party polarization and divided government after the 1960s o Is the separation of powers truly necessary to prevent tyranny? • One thing we didn't have back then was the examples of different forms of government. We can now look at Canada or other advanced democracies that don’t have separation of powers systems. Do we have the best-case scenario of government? Representatives and Representation • The Structure of Representation o MCS (Members of Congress) are popularly elected by voters within discrete geographically-defined constituencies • Not quite how other countries do their representation. Others do proportional representation - voting for a party rather than an individual candidate, and after the election is over the amount of representatives are elected based on the percentage of the votes and the party actually votes in those members. 5 • They call them constituencies in the UK, and ridings in Canada o MCs are elected individually, and separately from each other and from the president • Consequences of This System: Keep your Constituents Happy o Voting Record • "All politics is local" - Former Speaker of House Tip O'Neill • Congressmen want to vote the way the constituents want you to vote. You have to make the people who vote in primary elections happy so you don't get replaced by a person in your own party, but also need to keep the wider electorate in the general election happy so you don't get replaced by the other party. • Vote the District, not the Party o Public Visibility • There is a feeling that the public wants to see the member of Congress working hard out in the district, talking to voters, working with voters etc. A lot of Congressmen spend their time, not in Washington DC, but back in their home state with their constituents. • It is more common than it used to be that the family of the member of Congress stays in the district. Your family used to move to Washington, but nowadays the family stays in the community in order to brag to constituents that their whole family is still in touch and involved in the community. • This is a double-edged sword, though, because this has a detriment to the functionality of Congress. Congressmen don't know each other as well, back in the 19th century Congressmen would all live together sometimes in similar hotels and apartment buildings and get to know each other and collaborate and spend less time hating each other. o Communication o Casework • Members of Congress generally have the idea that doing good casework is smart politics. They want to gain a reputation that you do good casework. • This is a way of helping out the community in a way that you will remember how the Congressman helped you when election time comes around • Perceptions of Constituents o Based on the observations of different Congressmen from a bunch of different parties, the constituency can be seen as a bunch of nested groups. o Fenno: The district/state exists in the mind of the representative as a set of nested constituencies: • The geographic consistency (biggest circle) • The western or eastern area, whether the district is urban or rural, if the district is poor or rich or whatever socioeconomic class, the demographic identifications of that district, the major industries, etc. This is what Congressmen use to identify how their district differs from other members of Congress. • The re-election constituency 6 • This is a group of people that the Congressmen thinks will vote for them. A Congressman could get the farm vote but not the country club side, the Catholic vote but not the Muslim vote, etc. • The primary constituency • The people who have some kind of personal loyalty to that specific member of Congress to the point where they will vote for the candidate in both the primary and the general elections. They will vote for them against other candidates. • The personal constituency (smallest circle) • The people who have some personal acquaintance with the member. Friends, family members, neighbors, associates, etc. • The "Home Style" of Members of Congress o Fenno: What explains the degree of MC attentiveness? It varies greatly depending on: • Competitiveness between districts • Those who are in more competitive districts have more of an incentive to spend more time back in the district as compared to a Democrat in San Francisco, for example. • Differences in seniority • As Congressmen climb up in seniority, they begin rising in power, and as they gain a better reputation in the community, they can spend more time in Washington putting in work. • Other responsibilities • Whether or not they are part of legislative processes, whether or not they are members of different committees. o Presentation of self: similarities across MCs • Establishing a positive personal reputation • Extremely important, arguably the most important. If they have a good representation, they are able to get more respect both in Washington and back in their district. • Three key messages • Qualification • They are qualified, competent, they are able to work the political system in favor of their constituents, they are able to use soundbites to their advantage by preparing ahead of time. They want to project expertise regardless of whether or not they are actually experts. They want to APPEAR good at their job and well qualified for that job. • Identification • "I'm one of you, not one of them" as a way of identifying with the constituents. You make it appear like you share common values. You do not want your constituents to view you as a creature of Washington, and haven't lost touch in their base. Emphasize their local ties to the district. This is how the rates of approval of Congress overall is so low but state Congressmen get reelected - because they try to separate themselves from the Congress as a whole and it works. • Empathy 7 • Act like you understand their problems, you are working for them, you get that life can be hard and you have certain problems, and how these Congressmen are the ones to help those problems. o Presentation of self: variation across MCs • Congressman A • He is all about being a good friend to all of his constituents, building trust by acting like one of the other Constituents, a "good 'ol boy." • Doesn't talk about policy very much • Congressmen B • Not a "good 'ol boy," talks about policy matters and real issues rather than just trying to get on the good sides of their constituents by being a good friend. • MC's ambivalent relationship to "Washington" • Tout benefits of power, influence, seniority • They want to promote themselves as using their power in Washington to deliver results for the district. They want to portray themselves as big- shots in Washington, because that translates to more power to use on behalf of the causes and demands of the district. • But Washington is unpopular, hence Fenno's Paradox • But at the same time, they don't want to make it look like they have lost touch with their constituents. They often run for Congress, by running against Congress, hence Fenno's Paradox. • They always say "everybody but me is an idiot in Congress," how they are an exception from the rest of Congress. Congress is not a "we," it is a "they." • This is why constituents like their member of Congress more than they like Congress as a whole. The more people hate Congress the more Congressmen separate themselves. • Changes since Fenno's study • More polarized opinion - people vote for their party and the national party more, and the local person somewhat less • Members of Congress still spend a lot of time cultivating their reputation in the district. • When members of Congress go back to their home states, constituents are no longer talking about local issues but national issues. A lot of interaction is on the subject of national partisan ideological issues much more than it used to be. • Congress today o Confirmation process: candidate will go in front of the committee and get voted on for the nominee o This is a major power the Congress has over the President - their ability to block or confirm appointments o Why wouldn't republicans use the nuclear option and change the rules? 8 • It makes sense strategically for the person to not say they are going to do anything until the last minute. • Because congressmen are hesitant about changing rules in the case that the rule could help them in the long term. Take the example of democrats getting rid of the filibuster rule for local court appointments under Obama. • Representation and Social Identity o What kind of representation do we seek from our representatives? o Hanna Pitkin: 2 types of representation • Substantive representation • Descriptive representation • The shared social group membership or the social identity between the representative and the represented. The represented achieve membership and participation in public institutions when members of their group are elected and serve them in Congress. When the fellow group member gets elected you are also getting elected because you all share the same group identity. • Representation in the descriptive sense is less about policy and details and more about what kinds of people are getting represented and what kinds of people are getting represented. • African-Americans in Congress o Reconstruction • It wasn't until this period that male, former slaves, gained citizenship rights and rights to vote. There was three states in which the majority of the black people are - Missouri o Post-Reconstruction o The Northern Migration o The Voting Rights Act (1965) o Other Racial Minorities • Women in Congress o 19th Amendment (1919) • Jeannette Rankin was the first woman to be elected into Congress • She voted against the declaration of WWI and lost her seat in the midterm election. Only in politics for 2 years before she gets taken out of office. After waiting a little bit and getting reelected, she was in office when Pearl Harbor happened. She also voted against the declaration of WWII. Pacifist scum. o The "Widow's Succession" • Once the husband died, women were able to take over where they left off. o Underrepresentation today • Women who run for Congress get elected at roughly the same rate as men who run for Congress. It is just a matter of much fewer women actually running for the position. • Women are not as well connected in the political world as men are • Men are much more likely to seek public office because they are less risk averse than women. Men have more confidence in their ability to succeed in office than women, regardless of each gender's objective qualifications. • Why are there more women democrats in Congress? 9 • Women are more likely to be democrats • Voters tend to perceive women as more liberal than men even if that isn't actually true. o Overrepresentation today • Lawyers are terribly overrepresented in Congress • Wealthy people are overrepresented • Older people are overrepresented • Mansbridge: A Role for Descriptive Representation o Benefits of descriptive representation • The ability to represent a particular set of experiences that may be relevant to a topic that comes up. • An ability to rule - it gives these underrepresented groups a sense of belonging that they are being represented. • When you give a member of a historically o What are the costs to descriptive representation? • You want to elect someone who has an idea about the theory and lawfulness of certain laws, not just someone who looks like you. o What is the relationship between descriptive and substantive representation? • There is a lot of evidence to showcase that it is very difficult to have a definitive separation of these two forms of representation. • When people are parts of certain groups, regardless of how they look or act, will always act differently when surrounded by a certain way of thinking. Men are more likely to vote for issues of foreign policy and military when surrounded by men, or women are more likely to vote for social programs. Apportionment and Redistricting • Congress today o Confirmation process: candidate will go in front of the committee and get voted on for the nominee o This is a major power the Congress has over the President - their ability to block or confirm appointments o Why wouldn't republicans use the nuclear option and change the rules? • It makes sense strategically for the person to not say they are going to do anything until the last minute. • Because congressmen are hesitant about changing rules in the case that the rule could help them in the long term. Take the example of democrats getting rid of the filibuster rule for local court appointments under Obama. • Representation and Social Identity o What kind of representation do we seek from our representatives? o Hanna Pitkin: 2 types of representation • Substantive representation • Descriptive representation • The shared social group membership or the social identity between the representative and the represented. The represented achieve membership 10 and participation in public institutions when members of their group are elected and serve them in Congress. When the fellow group member gets elected you are also getting elected because you all share the same group identity. • Representation in the descriptive sense is less about policy and details and more about what kinds of people are getting represented and what kinds of people are getting represented. • African-Americans in Congress o Reconstruction • It wasn't until this period that male, former slaves, gained citizenship rights and rights to vote. There was three states in which the majority of the black people are - Missouri o Post-Reconstruction o The Northern Migration o The Voting Rights Act (1965) o Other Racial Minorities • Women in Congress o 19th Amendment (1919) • Jeannette Rankin was the first woman to be elected into Congress • She voted against the declaration of WWI and lost her seat in the midterm election. Only in politics for 2 years before she gets taken out of office. After waiting a little bit and getting reelected, she was in office when Pearl Harbor happened. She also voted against the declaration of WWII. Pacifist scum. o The "Widow's Succession" • Once the husband died, women were able to take over where they left off. o Underrepresentation today • Women who run for Congress get elected at roughly the same rate as men who run for Congress. It is just a matter of much fewer women actually running for the position. • Women are not as well connected in the political world as men are • Men are much more likely to seek public office because they are less risk averse than women. Men have more confidence in their ability to succeed in office than women, regardless of each gender's objective qualifications. • Why are there more women democrats in Congress? • Women are more likely to be democrats • Voters tend to perceive women as more liberal than men even if that isn't actually true. o Overrepresentation today • Lawyers are terribly overrepresented in Congress • Wealthy people are overrepresented • Older people are overrepresented • Mansbridge: A Role for Descriptive Representation o Benefits of descriptive representation • The ability to represent a particular set of experiences that may be relevant to a topic that comes up. 11 • An ability to rule - it gives these underrepresented groups a sense of belonging that they are being represented. • When you give a member of a historically o What are the costs to descriptive representation? • You want to elect someone who has an idea about the theory and lawfulness of certain laws, not just someone who looks like you. o What is the relationship between descriptive and substantive representation? • There is a lot of evidence to showcase that it is very difficult to have a definitive separation of these two forms of representation. • When people are parts of certain groups, regardless of how they look or act, will always act differently when surrounded by a certain way of thinking. Men are more likely to vote for issues of foreign policy and military when surrounded by men, or women are more likely to vote for social programs. Candidate Nomination and Election • Who Runs for Congress? o Many people run for Congress o Most of them lose… badly o So what do you need to do to win? • Quality Candidates: Three Important Resources o Experience in an occupation or position with high social status • Demonstrates qualification for Congress • This goes back to Fenno, one of the most important things voters look for in a candidate is experience and the ability to do the job. • Creates (positive) name recognition • The more people who know your name, the more likely they will remember your name to vote for you on a ballot. You can't get votes if people don't know you. • Usually, but not always, previous political office • State legislature, city council, statewide office of some kind, etc. are all springboards into a position on a congressional campaign. o Fundraising ability (or personal wealth) • You need to raise a lot of money to run a competitive campaign, the average person has a hard time raising large amounts of money. • People with previous experience can build enthusiasm about themselves and get people to support them. o Campaign skills • Running a strategically competent campaign • Being likable, intelligent, well-balanced mentally, attractive in various ways, somebody that voters are happy about supporting. • This is often the part of the triangle that candidates don't have - many have the first two but don't know how to hold themselves on the campaign trail. • The Path to Congress: Two Congressional Leaders o Paul Ryan, US House Speaker 12 • 1992 - Congressional Aide, Sen. Robert Kasten • 1993-1995 - Speechwriter, Empower America • 1995-1997 - Legislative Director, Rep. Sam Brownback • 1998 onward - US House of Representatives o Chuck Schumer, US Senate Minority Leader • 1974-1980 - New York State Assembly • 1980-1998 - US House of Representatives • 1998 onward - US Senate • Alternative Paths to Congress o Party Leadership o Success in High-Status Field (Business, Law, Medicine, Military) o Heredity o Celebrity • Party Influence in Congressional Elections: The Hill Committees (a.k.a. "Triple-C's") o Their objectives is to retain or elect as many candidates of their own party as possible in order to achieve a majority in both the House and the Senate. • House • Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) • D-Triple C or "D-Trip" • National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) • Senate • Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) • National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) • Responsibilities of the Hill Committees (Triple-C's) o Recruiting quality candidates • Goes back to "What Makes a Quality Candidate" above • Hill Committees concentrate on a subset of seats • Seats that are likely to be politically competitive • Seats that are not competitive are not really worth pushing a lot of resources into • Identify the electorally strongest potential candidate for the party within the state/district • Most of the time this is a person who is an elected official within that district, somebody who is currently working for the state legislature. • Convince that person to run for Congress • Recruitment is a very difficult task for the Triple-C's • Barriers to Recruitment (or, why you might not want to run for Congress even if you want to serve in Congress) • Political calculation • High quality candidates are people who are already involved in politics and tend to think very strategically about what is best for their personal ambitions • Running and losing is s
More Less

Related notes for POLI 2309

Log In


OR

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


OR

By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.


Submit