Nivola, #23 James Madison, Federalist 51:
Federalist 51 addresses the separation (partition)
of power between the several departments laid out by the Constitution.
by Chrystine D. Lake, Fall 2008
This idea establishes the check and balance system
and the separation of power.
To do this Madison claims that each department should
have a will of its own, that the executive, legislative, and judiciary
magistracies should be elected by the people (though the judiciary deviates
from this slightly), that each department should have different and varying
power and be independent from the other, and that none should ‘encroach’
on the other.
This was done to control the abuses of government
against the people. ‘If men were angels, no government would be necessary
to control the abuses of government. If angels were to govern men, neither
external nor internal controls on government would be necessary’ and ‘ambition
must be made to counteract ambition’ are both very famous phrases from
Madison argues that the legislature should be divided
between two separate bodies because the policy making body will possess
the most power and influence.
In the paper he argues the necessity of a separation
of powers to protect the interest of the people, one department from another,
state against central power, and to preserve the ideas of a Republic.
Nivola, #24 Warren E. Miller and Donald E.
Stokes, Constituency Influence in Congress:
by Chrystine D. Lake, Fall 2008
Looks into how and to what extent constituents and
their attitudes affect members of the House of Representatives.
Why are certain Congressmen and women elected?
The effect constituents have now over their Representatives
is different than how Edmund Burke had hoped it would be, which was for
Congress to represent their interests, not their will.
There have been many models of representation throughout
American history (Burkean, instructed-delegate, and responsible party),
but one has never dominated practice—they are often combined.
It is not always because of policy, so is it dependant
on similar characteristics (ethnicity, religion…)?
Most Americans are not informed about what goes on
in Washington, but generally there seems to be a ‘measurable degree of
congruence’ between district and legislator.
The district can control the policy actions of their
Representative in two ways: first, to elect a Representative who shares
its views and beliefs; second, to get re-election that Representative must
follow those beliefs.
The article argues that American Congressmen do vote
both their own policy views and their perceptions of their constituents’
Most people vote in Congressional elections by their
national party affiliation but often do not know the runner’s voting record
‘Congressmen feel that their individual legislative
actions may have considerable impact on the electorate, yet some simple
facts about the Representative’s salience to his constituents imply that
this could hardly be true.’
24: Miller & Stokes, "Constituency
Influence in Congress"
This relationship is dependant on many different
things: the local party, economic interests, the news media, racial and
nationality organizations, ties to the national party, and our understanding
of that relationship most comes from the Representatives ability to appear
to be going by what the people want and believe.
By Jon Lyons, Fall 2007
-Constituency control opposite to the conception
of representation associated with Edmund Burke. Burke desired representatives
to serve the constituency’s interest but not its will
-The people of the responsible two-party system
are conceived in terms of a national constituency as opposed to a local
constituency. Candidates appeal to the electorate in terms of a national
party program and leadership.
-Many Congressman keep their tenure of office
secure with district benefits and federal projects, not with reacting to
and acting on public opinion of their constituency.
-Congressman may try and understand policy preferences
of constituents by responding to issues in terms of fairly broad evaluative
dimensions. While specialized committees and executive agencies closely
examine criteria that is specific to policies at hand, when proposals come
before the House they are judged on more general evaluative dimensions
-Advocates of popular sovereignty regard the citizen
as a kibitzer who looks over the shoulder of their legislator.
-While kibitzer and legislator may disagree over
some policy, they are thought to understand what the alternatives are.
-Most Americans, though, are nearly totally uninformed
about legislative issues in Washington.
-At best, the average citizen may have some general
ideas about how the country should be run, which he or she is able to use
when responding to surveys.
-Constituency can control the policy actions of
the Representative in two alternative ways:
-One, the district chooses a Representative that
so share their views that in following his own convictions he does his
-The second involves the Representative’s following
constituency attitude in order to win re-election.
Nivola, #25 David R. Mayhew, Divided We Govern:
by Chrystine D. Lake, Fall 2008
David Mayhew asks 5 questions:
Does whether Congress is unified under one party or
divided have a significant effect on how the government functions?
Nivola #25: David R. Mayhew, "Divided We
1. Even if important laws win enactment just as often
under conditions of divided party control, might they not be worse laws?
Isn’t ‘seriously defective legislation’ a likelier result? United people
to create united policy goals might be less likely to write either clear
ends or efficient means into their statures. They are also less likely
to fully consider the results of the law later in time.
2. Even if important individual statues can win enactment
regardless of conditions of party control, how about programmatic ‘coherence’
across statues? Mayhew first argues that cohesiveness is not always needed
to create a government that functions—history proves him right. But, there
are two forms of coherence that he looks at: ideological, which is the
push of some type of ‘ideological packaging’ of legislation which is more
difficult in a divided Congress, but is possible. The second type is budgetary
coherence, which is a match between revenue and expenditure across all
government programs. To this, Mayhew claims that some argue that single
party control would have handled it better because of ideological uniformity
or electoral accountability. Mayhew however leaves this aspect open because
it can not be proven.
3. Doesn’t government administration suffer
as a result of divided party control? Doesn’t exaggerated pulling and hauling
between president and Congress undermine the implementation of laws and,
in general, the functioning of agencies and the administration of programs?
The system of micro-management has effected how the administration runs,
which focuses more on the ends than the means. The system was founded by
a divided party system, but also occurred because of a ‘shock to they system’
(Watergate)—Mayhew argues that therefore divided control was a necessary
part of the causal structure that triggered the micro-managing system.
4. Does the conduct of foreign policy suffer under
divided party control? Mayhew specifies between ‘coordination’ vs. ‘non-coordination’.
He says that the record was no worse when the government was divided than
when it wasn’t and that bipartisan cooperation allows for executive progress
in foreign affairs.
5. Are the country’s lower-income strata served less
well under divided party control? Most argue that a unified majority is
needed to deliver goods, but that history does not support this fact.
In concluding, Mayhew argues that ‘it does not seem
to make all that much difference whether party control of the American
government happens to be unified or divided.’
By Jon Lyons, Fall 2007
-Mayhew begins by stating he believes united
versus divided control has probably not made a difference during the postwar
era (reference to WWII)
-Mayhew argues at the national level political
parties are more like policy factions than governing instruments
-Mayhew poses a series of questions speculating
about whether or not there is a significant difference in unified (UNI)
and divided (DIV) party control
-Mayhew first asks if important laws win
enactment just as often under conditions of divided party control, might
they not be worse laws? Or in other words, does DIV control produce defective
-Uses Nixon passing a large expansion of
entitlements into law but not regarding the effect of long-term costs as
-Also sites a UNI control example-Lyndon
Johnson’s drive to pass as many Great Society bills as he could while his
sizable Democratic congressional majorities lasted. “Pass the bill now,
worry about its effect and implementation later”. The anti-poverty program
soon lost popular support and backing on Capitol Hill. Mayhew quotes Tocqueville
in describing democracy’s laws as “almost always defective or untimely”
in his conclusion that divided party control does not lower the quality
of statues overall.
-Mayhew discusses the issue of budgets and
the argument that a single ruling party would not create serious deficits
such as Reagan’s.
-Despite Reagan’s unusual request, Congress
agreed on severe tax cuts, heavy cuts in domestic spending, and increased
defense spending along with hands off Social Security.
-Mayhew goes on to argue that the policies
of individual presidents (such as Reagan) are to blame for the creation
of a deficit. Congress generally follows the lead on broad fiscal
-Mayhew uses multiple examples of DIV control
foreign policy matters to argue DIV control is not a negative influence:
Nixon’s opening to China and the Soviet Union, the Marshall Plan, and Bush
41’s liberation of Kuwait. There was little dissent in Congress on these
policies, he argues.
David R. Mayhew, “Divided We Govern”
Divided government has existed since WWII, with
the Presidency and Congress being controlled by different political parties.
Kevin Akins, Spring 2004
Mayhew concludes that divided control has
not made a notable difference during
the post war, because of the varying role parties
play at the national level (“policy factions rather than governing instruments”).
Five questions concerning unified control, rather
than divided control
1. Is it important that a law win
enactment under conditions of divided party control?
Under divided control, coalitions
emerge, which results in legislation often without clear ends or efficient
means in statutes; the effect of laws might also be lessened (i.e. 1975
Energy Policy & Conservation Act).
Coalitions emerge, regardless of party,
as regional politics is a factor (i.e. “demonstration cities” Act of 1966).
Unified control can birth a frenzied policy,
as shown by LBJ’s Great Society; the Pres. Rushed bills into law, while
his Democratic Congress lasted, before fully thinking out the effects of
each article of legislation.
Divided party control does not lessen statute
2.Even if an important statute
passes under divided control, what about programmatic coherence across
To understand this, there are two types of coherence:
ideological & budgetary
A. Ideological coherence
large collections of laws that have the same ideological
purpose. This has happened under both unified and divided governments (i.e.
LBJ & Reagan).
B. Budgetary coherence
A match between revenue and expenditure across
all government programs. Regarding deficits of the1980s, some argue that
unified party leadership would have eliminated monetary problems, but that
is hopeful at best. Deficits are exempt to partisan leadership.
3. Doesn’t government administration
suffer as a result of divided party control?
Some argue that the implication of divided
party control has increased “micro-managing.”
Both President & Congress monitor the
other, by increasing staff to watch daily actions.
Whether divided or unified, Presidency
and Congress know much about each other, bringing them closer through facts,
but sometimes polarizing them by being at varying ends on policy.
4. Does the conduct of
foreign policy suffer under divided party control?
Deadlocks are more likely to occur in divided
Foreign policy control can be a domestic conflict.
5. Are the country’s lower-income
strata served less well under
divided party control ?
Both parties attempt to benefit, whether it is
long-term scale or immediate government involvement.
Rich can prosper when the government does nothing,
but poorer are hurt w/o government participation.
These five questions are not the only additional
ones that might be asked about unified as opposed to divided party control.
Political parties can be a powerful instrument,
but in the United States
they seem to play more of a role as policy factions
than in Britain, where they’re a governing instrument.
American politicians at the legislative
and executive levels have managed to navigate the last two centuries without
becoming minions of party leaders.
Nivola, #26 Nelson W. Polsby, The Institutionalization
of The U.S. House of Representatives:
Polsby explains how and why Congress was transformed
from a ‘relatively open, flexible organization to one characterized by
more difficult entry, less turnover, greater professionalization, and more
How is the House of Representatives an institutionalized
by Chrystine D. Lake, Fall 2008
1. The Establishment of Boundaries:
this refers to a channeling of career opportunities,
in which the House went from an open organization to one that stabilized
its membership, entry became more difficult, turnover is less frequent,
leadership professionalized and persists, recruitment happens from within—this
creates a hardening of boundaries.
2. The Growth of Internal Complexity: this growth
in complexity is seen impressionistically by Polsby.
It can be seen in three ways: in the growth in the
autonomy and importance of committees, in the growth of specialized agencies
of party leadership, and in the general increase in the provision of various
emoluments and auxiliary aids to members in the form of office space, salaries,
allowances, staff aid, and committee staffs.
3. From Particularistic and Discretionary to
Universalistic and Automated Decision Making:
This is displayed by the growth of seniority as a
criteria fro determining committee rank and the practice of deciding contested
elections to the House strictly on the merits.
4. Causes, Consequences, Conclusions:
Not much is known of the causes of the institutionalization
of the House of Rep. but Polsby claims that ‘As the responsibilities of
the national government grew, as a larger proportion of the national economy
was affected by decisions taken at the center, the agencies of the national
government institutionalized,’ and also that that as the organization grew
in size, it naturally institutionalized.
As a result, the system seems to have become complex,
but the power of the House has grown, and that new norms have been established
within the organization.
26: Nelson W. Polsby, "Institutionalization
of the US House"
Doug Fontaine, Spring 2008
- For a political system to be viable it must be
• Organizations must be created
and sustained that are specialized to political activity,
or the political system is unstable
- The process of institutionalization is one of the
grand themes of the modern social science
• Also must be in some sense free and democratic
- Institutionalized organizations have 3 major
• It is well bounded
- Merit system replaces favoritism and neopotism
• It is complex
• The organization tends to use universalistic
rather than particularistic criteria
- As an organization institutionalizes, it stabilizes
its membership, entry is more difficult, and turnover is less frequent
- From the 18th – 19th centuries the house had
a 50% turnover in 15 elections
- In the 20th century the turnover has been much
less, the greatest turnover was 37.2% during the Roosevelt land slide
- The 1st 27 men who were speakers of the house
never died while in office
- The past 10 speakers of the house, 6 have died
- The decrease of newcomers in the house, has
stabilized the ways of doing business within the house
- Internal complexity
• Growth of autonomy
- During the Hamilton era, no committees were put
• Importance of committees
• Growth of specialized agencies of party leadership
• Growth of office space, salaries, allowances,
staff aid, and committee staffs
- Clay installed 5 house committees
- Influence of committees has increased during
the 20th century
- Differences between early and recent speakers
of the house
• Floor leaders in the 20th century are
officially designated, while in the 19th century they were informally designated
- Growth of resources has increased complexity
• 20th century floor leaders are separated from
the committee system, while in the 19th century they were prominent committees
• 20th century floor leaders rely on the
- No one should serve as a chairman of more than
- This process develops professional norms
Nivola, #27 Richard F. Fenno, Jr., Congressmen
When understanding the goal of obtaining certain committee
positions for a Congressman, three different patterns were established.
Within doing this, three general goals were discovered
in relation to committee membership.
by Chrystine D. Lake, Fall 2008
These are goals are influence –oriented, re-election-oriented,
The question is ‘do committees whose members have
similar goals operate in similar environments?
Though is a similarity between goals and environment
internally in some cases, externally there are no similarities between
Therefore the environment is a largely independent
Fenno suggests that it is not possible to know the
committees goals by know their environment, just as it is not possible
to predict the characteristics of a committee’s environment by knowing
only its members goals. ‘On every committee the members try to accommodate
their personal goals to important environmental expectations and to embody
this accommodation in broad, underlying guidelines for decision making.’
Fenno performed a study of six standing committees
in the House of Representatives:
Richard F. Fenno, Jr., "Congressmen In Committees"
John Martin, Fall 2007
Appropriations; Ways and Means; Interior; Post Office;
Education and Labor; and Foreign Affairs.
The six committees were examined and categorized according
mostly influence oriented (App. & W and
mostly reelection oriented (Int. & P.O.),
mostly policy oriented (Ed. and L & For.
Fenno also found that committee patterns based
upon members’ goals correspond to patterns based on environmental
App. & W and W (influence-oriented): parent
chamber served as most prominent environmental element; partisan
Int. & P.O. (reelection-oriented): clientele
groups were most prominent environmental element; pluralistic
Ed. and L & For. Aff. (policy-oriented): virtually
in common with difficult behavior to describe;
“Policy coalition” is defined as the interaction
of policy subjects and characteristics. This term provides another
aspect to a committee’s environment besides member’s goals and involves
active participation and constraints.
Fenno’s research concluded that members of committees
try to accommodate their personal goals to environmental expectations by
using broad guidelines for decision-making.
Fenno later sorted the six committees into two
groups based upon decision-making:
App./W and M/Int.- consensus on decision rules
led to success.
Ed. and L/For. Aff./P.O.- unable to formulate consensus
and resulted in dissatisfaction.
Success on the House floor depended upon an
agreement between committee members on an operative set of decision rules,
and successful decision rules tended to reflect a consensus among committee
Fenno analyzed committee’s internal decision-making
processes and noted three factors:
Pressure from outside or interest groups.
Strategy to balance personal goals with environmental
Decision-making autonomy assumed high
levels of committee member’s influence.
App./W and M/Int.- committee autonomy successful
to similar sources and results.
Ed. and L/For. Aff./P.O.- committee autonomy
questionable because of emphasis on environmental impact.
Fenno explored external issues in regards to
committee members and discovered that success resulted from agreement over
decision-making rules, autonomy, consistency in House floor operations,
Fenno kept the two groups of three committees
each to define corporate and permeable aspects:
App./W and M/Int.- corporate type of model with more
influence; independence appeared most important, strengthening the feeling
of group identity; corporate pride and identity; high levels of activity
also were essential.
Ed. and L/For. Aff./P.O.- permeable type of
model with a quicker response; committee activity and consensual goals
led to member satisfaction; greater environmental interest and influence.
(All Senate committees fall under the permeable/responsive
type of model.)