The American Congress differs as being a legislative institution. In comparison to other democratic assemblies, the parties you’ll find weak. (22) Further, the main executive within the government isn’t taken in the ranks. Frequently, obama and Congress have opposing parties – further complicating difficulties with whom to carry accountable when everything is going poorly and whom to reward when things go well. Despite these potential issues and complications, Congress, based on David Mayhew, still performs remarkably well in representing the interests from the constituents and people. (81) His book, Congress: The Electoral Connection. offers the theoretical framework to describe how Congress operates.
Mayhew authored Congress anytime when little academic research existed on Congressional behavior, and concurrently, rational choice theory was gaining recognition among political scientists. (viii) Both of these streams, together with Mayhew’s firsthand experience, introduced him to his overarching theory that folks of Congress are “single minded seekers of reelection.” (5) Although this sort of bold statement was certainly new, the idea of congress as rational decision makers thinking about self-upkeep wasn’t. Inside the studies, Richard Fenno figured folks are motivated by reelection, prestige within Congress, and good public policy. (ix)
Although Mayhew’s theory itself may appear single minded, it’s believable because reelection is “the goal that has got to easily be performed again and again if other ends needs to be entertained.” (16) Mayhew acknowledges that typically folks are motivated by and pursue goals that hurt their chances at reelection, however, these “saints” are rare and to a single thing about individuals goals, they have to first be reelected.
Proof of Congress’s focus on reelection show up in the very best return rates of incumbents. After we condition the Congressman is unbeatable, it is not to condition that incumbents possess a structural advantage making them invulnerable rather, because they are doing these products (for example answering mail, serving constituents, and voting for projects in their district) that gain favor among their voters that assist their reelection campaigns.
Most a member’s activities not just are proportional for seeking of reelection but may also be place in three groups: credit claiming, position taking, and advertising.
Credit claiming describes actions which promote the fact the member may be the person accountable for desirable results. (53) Congressmen will claim credit for accomplishments and so the electorate might reward their success with reelection. However, credit claiming can get to get harder when the isn’t apparent whom to carry accountable or reward. Therefore, claims needs to be believable. (55) Capital improvement projects or maybe a completely new federal building within your house district, a military base that stays open, or even casework to uncover military services weapons social security check are popular and believable claims that assist a Congressmen in their reelection efforts. Claims on broader issues, for example “I am accountable for passing an invoice to curb inflation,” aren’t tangible and they are harder to have an audience to understand.
Further, the understanding required to exactly look at the validity of individuals claims is beyond voters’ ability. Such claims are thought as unbelievable whether true otherwise. Mayhew believes this can be one of the reasons we percieve a proliferation of pork barrel projects and earmarks in Congress while complex and nuanced issues are overlooked.
Position taking could be a public announcement in the Congressman’s stance round the particular issue. Frequently, position taking is completed formally utilizing a roll call election. (61) Position taking is particularly important when credit claiming isn’t achievable because the problem is too complex for states be believable or since the issue never reaches implementation. Mayhew argues the most effective method of position taking could be a conservative one. (67) He suggests Congressmen “cling” for current positions and possess interaction in innovation simply with attention.
Finally, advertising could be a Congressman’s efforts to produce favorable name recognition inside the district. (49) The look they’ve created or convey has with no content. Since about only half the electorate can name their Representative, people spend considerable time attempting to build their status just as one experienced, valuable, and knowledgeable politician. Incumbents possess a large advantage in advertising since they can use franking legal legal rights to correspond with constituents and can most likely get news coverage. Mayhew provides various kinds of Congressmen who ramped up their presence (likely to date as hosting television and radio shows) to be able to advertise after close elections.
These 3 aspects of most likely probably the most of Congressional activity and lastly support the objective of reelection. However, these activities concentrate on the individual people as opposed to the institution itself. Part 2 of Congress concentrates on how people organize within Congress to satisfy their needs. Here Mayhew states two observations about Congress: the process of Congress meets the requirements of their people perfectly which member’s gain isn’t another member’s loss. (82)
First, Mayhew suggests the seasoned hill employees as being a method of getting business support and incumbency advantage. Staff, franking legal legal rights, and convenience along with other sources allow visitors to effectively pursue cause real progress.
Second, the decentralization of capability to committees enables “every member, no matter party or seniority, (the) to his be part of the advantages.” (88) Membership on committees enables congressmen to pursue interest areas and maximize credit claiming on individuals issues. Further, because committees are often smaller sized sized sized than Congress generally, “individual congressmen will make unpredicted unpredicted unexpected things happen.” (92) The need for everyone along with the weakness within the parties allow congressmen to “take positions that provide his advantage.” (99)
Mayhew believes that Congress is “an extraordinarily democratic body” (138) which “keeping Congress afloat for nearly 220 years can be a considerable achievement” (165) especially because of the potential issues it faces. Among the problems Mayhew sees is Congress’s inclination, while seeking for reelection, to help spending without taxing. He writes, “Spending is usually popular and taxes aren’t. Within the public mind the written text backward and forward maybe there is, but it’s decidedly ambiguous.” (144) To describe this away, Mayhew borrows Fenno’s argument that folks can also be motivated with the necessity to keep up with the institution’s prestige. Congress would stop being effective when the requirement to spend wasn’t for whatever reason checked using the diligent work of people worried about issues beyond their unique reelection.
Mayhew spends a substantial part of his book analyzing negligence parties in Congress (especially in comparison to other democratic legislatures). He concludes that they’re generally weak this will let you backseat for that interests of human people. Although For me personally this is often still true for many individuals from marginal districts – for instance, individuals districts by which Rahm Emanuel employed conservative Democrats to operate and to the party enables a broader selection of ideology – For me personally parties and party loyalty occupy a larger role in congressional behavior because the 1994 mid-term elections. Newt Gingrich’s committee reform lessened the need for seniority and rewarded individuals who toed the party line. Further, as gerrymandering creates more districts which are solidly one party, there’s a larger inclination for candidates in individuals districts to align themselves while using the party. In situation your member strays a lot of inside the party line within the solidly one party district, he’ll be punished by primary challengers. The overall election is frequently more carefully contested in marginal districts along with the primary much more in a single party districts. So, the less marginal districts you will find, the higher importance through the primary becomes. A way of doing that’s to demonstrate that you’re probably most likely probably the most Republican or most Democratic candidate. This sort of system diminishes the potency of the person – a component Mayhew believed was needed for Congress’s ability to satisfy the requirements of the folks.