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 developmentsincluding rapid communications, the increasing influence of powerful national interest groups, changes in the seniority system, and the dramatic expansion of senatorial staffhave 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 responsibleand 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.
About the Author
About the Author
Fred Harris is Professor of Political Science at the University of New Mexico. He has served in a number of public positions, including chairman of the Democratic National Committee and U.S. Senator from Oklahoma. His books include America's Government, Understanding American Government, America's Legislative Processes, among others.
Table of Contents
I. The Senate in the American System