How Congress Evolves: Social Bases of Institutional Change

How Congress Evolves: Social Bases of Institutional Change

by Nelson W. Polsby
Pub. Date:
Oxford University Press, USA
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How Congress Evolves: Social Bases of Institutional Change

From the end of the New Deal until quite recently, the U.S. House of Representatives was dominated by a conservative coalition that thwarted the Democratic majority and prevented the enactment of measures proposed by a succession of liberal presidents. Today presidents aren't necessarily liberal and the House of Representatives is not necessarily the graveyard of presidential proposals. What happened? Congress evolved. It all began with air conditioning... In this entertaining tale of the people's house of our nation's legislature, Nelson Polsby describes how the Democratic majority finally succeeded in overcoming the conservative coalition, changing the House. The evolution required, among other things, the disappearance of Dixiecrats from the House Democratic caucus. Dixiecrats were replaced by the rise of the Republican Party in the South. The Republican Party in southern states was strengthened by an influx of migrants from the North, who came south to settle after the introduction of residential air conditioning, which made the climate more tolerable to northerners. This evolutionary process led to the House's liberalization and concluded with the House's later transformation into an arena of sharp partisanship, visible among both Democrats and Republicans. A fascinating read by one of our most influential political scientists, How Congress Evolves breathes new life into the dusty corners of institutional history, and offers a unique explanation for important transformations in the congressional environment.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195161953
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date: 12/28/2003
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 9.30(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Lexile: 1550L (what's this?)

Table of Contents

1.The House in Sam Rayburn's Time7
A Conservative House: 1937-577
After the 1958 Election: Frustration20
The Rump Session of 196030
Packing the Rules Committee by Avoiding the Democratic Caucus: 196131
2.Toward Liberalization36
Succession to Rayburn36
Conflict within the Caucus: Liberals against the Leadership, 196340
Incremental Committee Packing: Appropriations, 196344
Republican Committee Packing: Maintaining the Party Mainstream, 1961-6350
The Landslide: 196456
The Democratic Study Group Uses the Caucus: 1967-7259
Fallout from Watergate: The Caucus Puts Seniority under Siege65
A Remodeled House73
3.Causes of Liberalization75
The House Democratic Caucus75
The Rise of the Two-Party South80
Southern Republicans in the 1990s: A Group Portrait97
4.Consequences: Toward a More Responsible Two-Party System?109
The Retreat from Bipartisanship in Committee114
Two Strategies of Opposition124
An Era of Ill-Feeling130
Tyranny Tempered by Assassination137
5.Overview: How Congress Evolves145
Innovation and Stalemate145
Overview of the House148
Stories about Change151
AppendixMethods and Sources156

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