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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Congress: the Constitution, and Contemporary Politics -- Legislative Process, Rules, Procedures, and Decision Making

Notes for a seminar at the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution, Montpelier, Virginia.

This weekend, RCP published an article on congressional reform.

In reality, shortcuts

Filling the tree


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Federalist 58:
One observation, however, I must be permitted to add on this subject as claiming, in my judgment, a very serious attention. It is, that in all legislative assemblies the greater the number composing them may be, the fewer will be the men who will in fact direct their proceedings. In the first place, the more numerous an assembly may be, of whatever characters composed, the greater is known to be the ascendency of passion over reason. In the next place, the larger the number, the greater will be the proportion of members of limited information and of weak capacities. Now, it is precisely on characters of this description that the eloquence and address of the few are known to act with all their force. In the ancient republics, where the whole body of the people assembled in person, a single orator, or an artful statesman, was generally seen to rule with as complete a sway as if a sceptre had been placed in his single hand.
Draper on Boehner:
 He often summed up his practical (and to some, passive) view of leadership by saying: “If you say, 'Follow me,' and no one does, you're not leading—you're just taking a walk.” 
Interest Groups and Congress (caution:  strong language!)

Congressional Approval Ratings 

Trend: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job?