How Congress Works and Why You Should Care

How Congress Works and Why You Should Care

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How Congress Works and Why You Should Care is a concise introduction to the functions and vital role of the U.S. Congress by eminent former Congressman Lee H. Hamilton. Drawing on 34 years as a U.S. Representative, Hamilton explains how Congress reflects the diversity of the American people, serves as a forum for finding consensus, and provides balance within the federal government. Addressing widespread public misperceptions, he outlines areas where Congress can work better and ways for citizens to become more engaged in public affairs through their representatives in Washington. How Congress Works and Why You Should Care is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the inner workings of Congress, and how all citizens can participate in its unique more

Product details

  • Paperback | 168 pages
  • 152.4 x 228.6 x 15.24mm | 249.47g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 0253216958
  • 9780253216953

About Lee H. Hamilton

Lee H. Hamilton was U.S. Representative from Indiana's Ninth District from 1965 to 1999. He served as Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Joint Economic Committee, and the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. He is now director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He lives in Bloomington, more

Review quote

"Americans cannot be faulted for having a deeply jaundiced view of their Congress, says Hamilton (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars); he ought to know, because he served as a Representative for Indiana from 1965 to 1999. But he argues that people can and should fix it rather than give up on it completely." -SciTech Book News, February 2010 "Lee Hamilton's book not only describes the Madisonian vision of what Congress is supposed to be and assesses how it measures up to that vision today, it also serves the same function of educating and edifying the American public that the Federalist papers did.... Every student of Congress, and every American, can benefit from this book." -Norman J. Ornstein, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute "A passionate and eloquent defense of the essential role Congress plays in the American constitutional system and a reasoned call for citizens to engage more actively in their representative democracy. Like Hamilton himself, this volume is scrupulously honest, fair-minded, and accessible to a wide audience." -Thomas Mann, W. Averell Harriman Senior Fellow in American Governance, The Brookings Institution "Lee Hamilton's new book... should be required reading for any American contemplating writing a `Letter to the Editor' or calling into (or hosting) a radio talk show, or for that matter, stepping into a voting booth. It is an owner's manual for citizens interested in their Congress." -Charlie Cook, Editor and Publisher, The Cook Political Reportshow more

Table of contents

Chapter One: The Role of CongressWhy Congress existsCore principle: Sovereignty of the PeopleCore principle: Balancing powers in government Congress and the President Why federalism works Key power: Passing the basic laws of the land Key power: The power of the purse Key power: Congress and foreign policy Congress and individual libertiesThe roots of our successChapter Two: The Impact of CongressCongress and the fabric of our lives Government's greatest endeavors An ordinary day Congress does more work than meets the eye A balanced view of Congress Members of Congress who had an impact Chapter Three: How Congress WorksA complex institutionAn evolving institutionThe many roles of a member of CongressRepresenting constituentsHow a bill really becomes lawWhy we need more politiciansPower in CongressThe House and the SenateThe awesome responsibility of votingThe frustrations and rewards of CongressChapter Four: Public Criticisms of Congress"Members are a bunch of crooks.""There's too much wasteful, pork-barrel spending by Congress." "Legislators just bicker and never get anything done." "You can't trust what members of Congress say.""Congress almost seems designed to promote total gridlock.""Members of Congress compromise too much.""There's too much money in politics today." "Members are out of touch with their constituents." "Congress is run by lobbyists and special interests"ConclusionChapter Five: Key Ways Congress Could Work BetterDeclining civility The importance of good processBetter White House/Congress consultationTrue congressional oversight Improving ethics enforcementThinking about the future The money chase Improving public understanding of CongressTackling the tough issuesCongress and the common goodConclusionChapter Six: Civic ParticipationA failure to communicateBeing more involved in the work of Congress The cornerstones of active citizenship Making your views known to Congress Individuals who have made a differenceCan the people govern? Strengthening representative democracyAppendix: Communicating with CongressNotesIndexshow more

Rating details

45 ratings
3.22 out of 5 stars
5 16% (7)
4 20% (9)
3 40% (18)
2 20% (9)
1 4% (2)
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