Congress and representation

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What is Congress?
The representative assembly of the USA
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What function do both houses of Congress perform?
Representation of the views and interests of the people in their districts and states
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How important is this?
It is given the highest priority by some members of Congress
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How often do congressional elections take place?
Every 2 years
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What do elections tend to be fought around?
Local issues rather than national ones
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What is the "locality rule"
People who stand for election must be residents of the state or district they represent
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What idea does this strengthen?
"All politics is local"
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What do members of Congress stress during elections?
Their commitment to constituency service
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What is the incumbency advantage?
The re-election rate is over 90%, congressional elections are not highly competitive in very "safe" districts
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What are some reasons for incumbent re-election?
Huge resources, free mailing (the 'franking privilege', recognition, 'credit claiming' for work already done for the community, campaign war chests from iron triangles etc., gerrymandering to ensure seats are more 'safe'
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What are some reasons that incumbents would not be re-elected?
an anti-Washington attitude, a targeted defeat based on scandal, a campaign war chest that can overspend the incumbent i.e. Elizabeth Warren
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What is the attitude of most Americans?
To support of vote for their incumbent representative
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What did the constitution establish?
Representatives should act as trustees for the whole nation
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What is the case today?
Majority of members of Congress spend time on constituency rather than national service
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What do members of Congress link together?
Bureaucracies and constituents
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Who are representatives supposed to represent?
The state or district, the party label, the national interest
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What do they have to do?
Balance representation of all three
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What did Edmund Burke say about representation?
"Elected representatives are trustees of their constituents and the nation"
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In this view, what are representatives elected to do?
Exercise their judgement on behalf of those they represent, not merely recall the views of constituents. They should decide for themselves what is best for their state or district
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How effective would Burke think that Congress is?
Not very. Congress full of representatives concerned with constituency interests is not doing to job of a representative assembly
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Why is representation difficult for many legislators?
They have to try not to alienate the "core" voters who they rely on for reelection
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Why is this a problem?
"Core" voters normally have more extreme views than the average voter. Because of this there must be a balance of representation so that no one is alienated
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What else must they consider?
National interest and responsibility
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Other cards in this set

Card 2

Front

What function do both houses of Congress perform?

Back

Representation of the views and interests of the people in their districts and states

Card 3

Front

How important is this?

Back

Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4

Front

How often do congressional elections take place?

Back

Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5

Front

What do elections tend to be fought around?

Back

Preview of the front of card 5
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