Catalogue


Congress behaving badly : the rise of partisanship and incivility and the death of public trust /
Sunil Ahuja ; foreword by Tom Sawyer.
imprint
Westport, Conn. : Praeger, 2008.
description
xii, 175 p. ; 25 cm.
ISBN
0275998681 (cloth), 9780275998684 (cloth)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
author
imprint
Westport, Conn. : Praeger, 2008.
isbn
0275998681 (cloth)
9780275998684 (cloth)
contents note
The problem of incivility and partisanship -- The Capitol Hill junior high school -- Changing of the guard -- What's behind partisanship and uncivil debate in Congress? -- Whither confidence and respect in the modern Congress? -- The impact of partisanship and incivility on the legislative process -- Democracy is a conversation.
catalogue key
6393306
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [153]-168) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2008-10-01:
Ahuja (Youngstown State Univ.) explores the rise of partisanship and incivility in the two houses of the US Congress. His benchmark is a more convivial time in the 1950s. (A longer look back would reveal that the early days of the republic saw members engaged in fisticuffs and beatings in the legislative halls.) But his thesis focuses on the last 50 years, and members are less congenial and more apt to be confrontational with colleagues. Ahuja identifies seven causes: redistricting; onerous party discipline; influence of special-interest groups; pressures of a 24-hours news cycle; growing use of temporary consultants; divisive "wedge" issues; and "avoidance of social interaction." (This reviewer's congressional experience suggests the root causes are the legislators' independence in getting elected and staying elected, and the rise of righteous ideology.) Ahuja offers several solutions: reapportioning legislative districts; restricting the influence of consultants, media, and interest groups; and "regularizing social interaction" among congressional opponents. Alas, none are likely to occur in the practical political world. Ahuja concludes that "the onus is on members ... to stop behaving badly." The book provides a doleful record of bad behavior. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers, lower-division undergraduate students, and research faculty. S. L. Harrison University of Miami
Appeared in Library Journal on 2008-07-01:
Much has been written in recent years by academics (e.g., Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein's The Broken Branch), journalists (e.g., Joe Klein's Politics Lost), and politicians themselves (e.g., Lee H. Hamilton's How Congress Works and Why You Should Care) about Congress's descent into dysfunction. In this book, Ahuja (political science, Youngstown State Univ.; coeditor, Legislative Studies Quarterly) reviews the extensive literature, considers the evidence demonstrating Congress's poor performance and incivility, and offers six causes: gerrymandered congressional districts that lead to the election of more intensely partisan members, the increased importance of narrowly focused interest groups, the 24/7 news cycle, the rise of political consultants, the supplanting of policy issues by wedge issues, and the inability to or unwillingness of members to socialize in their free time, leading members to view those in the opposing party as objects to be scorned rather than people with whom one could reason. The author provides ample quantitative and qualitative evidence that documents the factors discussed, and he concludes with a series of recommendations to improve the institution, among them limiting the use of campaign consultants and the media. Some of the recommendations are unrealistic, but many are worth serious consideration. This is a concise and informative book, and a valuable addition for all libraries whose holdings in this subject area are limited.--Thomas J. Baldino, Wilkes Univ., Wilkes-Barre, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Congress is a mess. Congress knows it and the American people know it. Sunil Ahuja traces Congress's descent to dysfunctionality over the past few decades and explains why it has reached this stage. He offers many apt ideas on how to make our legislative branch effective again, but ultimately it will take a clear expression of the will of the American people at the ballot box to bring about the needed reform." - Dan Miller, Former member of Congress
"Congress is a mess. Congress knows it and the American people know it. Sunil Ahuja traces Congress's descent to dysfunctionality over the past few decades and explains why it has reached this stage. He offers many apt ideas on how to make our legislative branch effective again, but ultimately it will take a clear expression of the will of the American people at the ballot box to bring about the needed reform."
"A plain-spoken examination of a serious problem in American representative democracy, highly recommended - especially for anyone serving or considering serving in a public office." – Midwest Book Review
"A plain-spoken examination of a serious problem in American representative democracy, highly recommended - especially for anyone serving or considering serving in a public office."-Midwest Book Review
"Ahuja (Youngstown State Univ.) explores the rise of partisanship and incivility in the two houses of the US Congress....The book provides a doleful record of bad behavior. Recommended." – Choice
"Ahuja....reviews the extensive literature, considers the evidence demonstrating Congress's poor performance and incivility, and offers six causes....The author provides ample quantitative and qualitative evidence that documents the factors discussed, and he concludes with a series of recommendations to improve the institution....This is a concise and informative book, and a valuable addition for all libraries whose holdings in this subject area are limited." – Library Journal
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, July 2008
Choice, October 2008
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Long Description
Partisan rancor and the public exchange of incivilities between members of Congress have become rampant on Capitol Hill and in the media studios since the 1980s. Polarization between mutually repugnant congressional factions has reached the point that the legislative process is paralyzed and democracy is hobbled. Ahuja documents the rise of incivility and the partisan shrillness in Congress, traces its complex causes, identifies its adverse consequences for the functioning of democratic government, and prescribes remedies to curb destructive partisanship and restore dignity and efficiency to the workings of Congress. Ahuja catalogs the most shocking examples of the abrasive new confrontational style as practiced by the likes of Gingrich, Burton, and Pelosi in the House, and by Boxer, Santorum, and Lott in the Senate. He contrasts this "new style" of congressional comportment with the decorum and pragmatism of the "old style" exemplified by such leaders as Foley, Hamilton, and Michel in the House, and by Dirksen, Mansfield, and Moynihan in the Senate. Ahuja identifies six causes of the rise of partisanship and incivility among congressional members: *Political redistricting and imposition of party discipline. *rising influence of adversarial special-interest groups. *adversarial format fostered by the 24-hour news cycle. *rising use of short-term consultants. *increasing insertion of "wedge issues." *avoidance of social interaction among opposing members. The author prescribes measures for restoring civility and moderating partisanship in Congress: reapportioning legislative districts; restricting the influence of consultants, media, and interest groups; and regularizing socialinteraction among congressional opponents.
Main Description
Partisan rancor and the public exchange of incivilities among members of Congress have become rampant on Capitol Hill and in the media studios since the 1980s. Polarization between mutually repugnant congressional factions has reached the point that the legislative process is paralyzed and democracy is hobbled. Ahuja documents the rise of incivility and partisan shrillness in Congress, traces its complex causes, identifies its adverse consequences for the functioning of democratic government, and prescribes remedies to curb destructive partisanship and restore dignity and efficiency to the workings of Congress.
Long Description
Partisan rancor and the public exchange of incivilities between members of Congress have become rampant on Capitol Hill and in the media studios since the 1980s. Polarization between mutually repugnant congressional factions has reached the point that the legislative process is paralyzed and democracy is hobbled. Ahuja documents the rise of incivility and the partisan shrillness in Congress, traces its complex causes, identifies its adverse consequences for the functioning of democratic government, and prescribes remedies to curb destructive partisanship and restore dignity and efficiency to the workings of Congress. Ahuja catalogs the most shocking examples of the abrasive new confrontational style as practiced by the likes of Gingrich, Burton, and Pelosi in the House, and by Boxer, Santorum, and Lott in the Senate. He contrasts this "new style" of congressional comportment with the decorum and pragmatism of the "old style" exemplified by such leaders as Foley, Hamilton, and Michel in the House, and by Dirksen, Mansfield, and Moynihan in the Senate. Ahuja identifies six causes of the rise of partinsanship and incivility among congressional members: *Political redistricting and imposition of party discipline. *rising influence of adversarial special-interest groups. *adversarial format fostered by te 24-hour news cycle. *rising use of short-term consultants. *increasing insertion of "wedge issues". *avoidance of social interaction among opposing members. The author prescribes measures for restoring civility and moderating partisanship in Congress: reapportioning legislative districts; restricting the influence of consultants, media, and interest groups; and regularizing social interaction among congressional opponents.
Long Description
Partisan rancor and the public exchange of incivilities among members of Congress have become rampant on Capitol Hill and in the media studios since the 1980s. Polarization between mutually repugnant congressional factions has reached the point that the legislative process is paralyzed and democracy is hobbled. Ahuja documents the rise of incivility and partisan shrillness in Congress, traces its complex causes, identifies its adverse consequences for the functioning of democratic government, and prescribes remedies to curb destructive partisanship and restore dignity and efficiency to the workings of Congress. Partisan rancor and the public exchange of incivilities between members of Congress have become rampant on Capitol Hill and in the media studios since the 1980s. Polarization between mutually repugnant congressional factions has reached the point that the legislative process is paralyzed and democracy is hobbled. Ahuja documents the rise of incivility and the partisan shrillness in Congress, traces its complex causes, identifies its adverse consequences for the functioning of democratic government, and prescribes remedies to curb destructive partisanship and restore dignity and efficiency to the workings of Congress. Ahuja catalogs the most shocking examples of the abrasive new confrontational style as practiced by the likes of Gingrich, Burton, and Pelosi in the House, and by Boxer, Santorum, and Lott in the Senate. He contrasts this new style of congressional comportment with the decorum and pragmatism of the old style exemplified by such leaders as Foley, Hamilton, and Michel in the House, and by Dirksen, Mansfield, and Moynihan in the Senate. Ahuja identifies six causes of the rise of partisanship and incivility among congressional members: *Political redistricting and imposition of party discipline. *rising influence of adversarial special-interest groups. *adversarial format fostered by the 24-hour news cycle. *rising use of short-term consultants. *increasing insertion of wedge issues. *avoidance of social interaction among opposing members. The author prescribes measures for restoring civility and moderating partisanship in Congress: reapportioning legislative districts; restricting the influence of consultants, media, and interest groups; and regularizing social interaction among congressional opponents.
Table of Contents
Forewordp. ix
Prefacep. xiii
The Problem of Incivility and Partisanshipp. 1
The Capitol Hill Junior High Schoolp. 21
Changing of the Guardp. 41
What Is Behind Partisanship and Uncivil Debate in Congress?p. 61
Whither Confidence and Respect in the Modern Congress?p. 85
The Impact of Partisan Warfare on the Legislative Processp. 107
Democracy Is a Conversationp. 127
Notesp. 153
Indexp. 169
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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