At first glance, campaign finance reform looks like a good idea. McCain-Feingold, for instance, regulates campaigns by prohibiting national political parties from accepting soft money contributions from corporations, labor unions, and wealthy individuals. But are such measures, or any of the numerous and similarly restrictive proposals that have circulated through Washington in recent years, really good for our democracy?
John Samples says no, and here he takes a penetrating look into the premises and consequences of the long crusade against big money in politics. How many Americans, he asks, know that there is little to no evidence that campaign contributions really influence members of Congress? Or that so-called negative political advertising actually improves the democratic process by increasing voter turnout and knowledge? Or that limits on campaign contributions make it harder to run for office, thereby protecting incumbent representatives from losing their seats of power?
Posing tough questions such as these, Samples uncovers numerous fallacies beneath proposals for campaign finance reform. He argues that our most common concerns about money in politics are misplaced because the ideals implicit in our notion of corruption are incoherent or indefensible. The chance to regulate money in politics allows representatives to serve their own interests at a cost to their constituents. And, ironically, this long crusade against the corruption caused by campaign contributions allows public officials to reduce their vulnerability by suppressing electoral competition.
Defying long-held ssumptions and conventional political wisdom, The Fallacy of Campaign Finance Reform is a provocative and decidedly nonpartisan work that will be essential for anyone concerned about the future of American government.
In the modern Congress, one of the highest hurdles for major bills or nominations is gaining the sixty votes necessary to shut off a filibuster in the Senate. But this wasn’t always the case. Both citizens and scholars tend to think of the legislative process as a game played by the rules in which votes are the critical commodity—the side that has the most votes wins. In this comprehensive volume,Gregory Koger shows, on the contrary, that filibustering is a game with slippery rules in which legislators who think fast and try hard can triumph over superior numbers.
Filibustering explains how and why obstruction has been institutionalized in the U.S. Senate over the last fifty years, and how this transformation affects politics and policymaking. Koger also traces the lively history of filibustering in the U.S. House during the nineteenth century and measures the effects of filibustering—bills killed, compromises struck, and new issues raised by obstruction. Unparalleled in the depth of its theory and its combination of historical and political analysis, Filibustering will be the definitive study of its subject for years to come.
The House and the Senate floors are the only legislative forums where all members of the U.S. Congress participate and each has a vote. Andrew J. Taylor explores why floor power and floor rights in the House are more restricted than in the Senate and how these restrictions affect the legislative process. After tracing the historical development of floor rules, Taylor assesses how well they facilitate a democratic legislative process—that is, how well they facilitate deliberation, transparency, and widespread participation.
Taylor not only compares floor proceedings between the Senate and the House in recent decades; he also compares recent congressional proceedings with antebellum proceedings. This unique, systematic analysis reveals that the Senate is generally more democratic than the House—a somewhat surprising result, given that the House is usually considered the more representative and responsive of the two. Taylor concludes with recommendations for practical reforms designed to make floor debates more robust and foster representative democracy.
On October 10, 2002, Congressman John J. Duncan Jr. cast a vote in the U.S. House that he thought might end his political career. Going against his own party, he was one of only six House Republicans who voted against the Iraq War resolution. Constituents in his district were shocked, but over time Duncan felt his least popular vote became his most popular one—and probably the most significant in his thirty-year political career.
Congressman Duncan served as U.S. Representative for Tennessee’s Second Congressional district from 1988 to 2019. While he could have written a dense political memoir, in From Batboy to Congressman, Duncan employs a journalistic flair to provide just the right insight into a series of anecdotes from his storied life. Duncan’s family, early life, and time as a lawyer and judge all figure into the generous narrative, shared with both warmth and a self-deprecating sense of humor. He details unique experiences meeting celebrities, presidents, and sports stars; and, of course, he shares insights into the decisions that charted his Congressional career on issues such as Iraq, NAFTA, and concern for fiscal responsibility. Over his decades-long career, Duncan was known for his commitment to constituent service—even among constituents who disagreed with his views—so he offers a refreshing perspective on bipartisanship and connections across the aisle; indeed, he names conservatives, moderates, and liberals alike among his closest friends.
While this book contains timely reflections on issues of war and poverty, of leadership and the lack of it, of the proper relationship between citizens and government, its intention is to highlight moments in a singular career. “As you will read in this book,” writes Congressman Duncan, “every job gave me strange, funny, unusual stories.”
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