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America And Congress

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In the past century, people continued to express an increasingly discontent view of Congress especially true when one looks back before the Clinton Impeachment debacle As the size of the nation and the number of congressman have grown, the congress has come under attack by both public influences and congressman themselves. Yet looking at one congressman's relationship with his or her constituents, it would be hard to believe that this is the branch of government that has come under suspect. In "If Ralph Nader says congress is 'The broken branch,' how come we love our congressman so much?" author Richard F. Fenno, Jr., provides insight into this view and why, through congress coming under fire, constituents still feel positively about there congressmen. Although congress is often criticized, its fine tuned functioning is essential in checking the power of congress without hindering the making of legislation

Fenno begins by relating the information that he had followed ten representatives home and had heard much praise from their constituents. He then goes into an analysis of how different one feels towards members of this institution and the institution itself. He states that one has different standards towards the institution and its members. "...we apply different standards of judgment, those we apply to the individual being less demanding than those we apply to the institution" (385) He goes on to say that for a congressman one wishes them to have a style that is individual but views that do not differ far from those of his constituency. As for congress, one expects the institution to be able to hastily salve national problems and make pertinent legislation at a prolific rate. He also states that because congress is the most familiar of the branches of government to the masses that it is only expected for most of the criticism to fall on this branch. He then talks of what he calls "A deeper dynamic of the political system" (386). He states that by nature of the system, senators and representatives are more inclined to put greater concern into individual performance than that of the performance of the institution itself. Mentioning that by looking to satisfy ones own constituents, they are doing what is asked of a representative. Feno then goes on to talk about comities focusing more on the House. He states that there are two kinds of committees, "committees which its members wish to pyramid their influence and therefore maintain their influence of their committee in the house" and committees were members are interested in national recognition (388). He defends the seniority rule which is used as a determining factors when choosing a committee chair and often is criticized. He says that although he does not see it as the best way of determining



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