How Congress Evolves: Social Bases of Institutional Change

Paperback | March 25, 2005

byNelson W. Polsby

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In this greatly entertaining tale of one of our most august institutions, Nelson Polsby argues that among other things, from the 50's to the 90's, Congress evolved. In short, Polsby argues that air conditioning altered the demography of the southern states, which in turn changed the politicalparties of the South, which transformed the composition and in due course the performance of the US House of Representatives. This evolutionary process led to the House's liberalization and later to its transformation into an arena of sharp partisanship, visible among both Democrats and Republicans.How Congress Evolves breathes new life into the dusty corners of institutional history, and offers a unique explanation for important transformations in the congressional environment.

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In this greatly entertaining tale of one of our most august institutions, Nelson Polsby argues that among other things, from the 50's to the 90's, Congress evolved. In short, Polsby argues that air conditioning altered the demography of the southern states, which in turn changed the politicalparties of the South, which transformed the ...

Nelson Polsby is Heller Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley where he has taught American politics and government since 1967. A close Congress watcher for more than 40 years, he is the author of, among others, Congress and the Presidency, and Presidential Elections (with Aaron Wildavsky, 10th editio...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 5.98 × 9.09 × 0.79 inPublished:March 25, 2005Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195182960

ISBN - 13:9780195182965

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Table of Contents

IntroductionI. The House in Sam Rayburn's TimeA Conservative House: 1937-1957After the 1958 Election: FrustrationThe Rump Session of 1960Packing the Rules Committee by Avoiding the Democratic Caucus: 1961II. Toward LiberalizationSuccession to RayburnConflict within the Caucus: Liberals against the Leadership, 1963Incremental Committee Packing: Appropriations, 1963Republican Committee Packing: Maintaining the Party Mainstream, 1961-1963The Landslide: 1964The Democratic Study Group Uses the Caucus: 1967-72Fallout from Watergate: The Caucus Puts Seniority under SiegeA Remodeled HouseIII. Causes of LiberalizationThe House Democratic CaucusThe Rise of the Two-Party SouthSouthern Republicans in the 1990s: A Group PortraitIV. Consequences: Toward a More Responsible Two-Party System?The Retreat from Bipartisanship in CommitteeTwo Strategies of OppositionAn Era of Ill-FeelingTyranny Tempered by AssassinationV. Overview: How Congress EvolvesInnovation and StalemateOverview of the HouseStories about ChangeAppendix: Methods and SourcesNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"How Congress Evolves is Nelson Polsby's magnum opus. Polsby is an institution among congressional scholars and this book will be a classic work on Congress along with the writings of Woodrow Wilson and Richard Fenno. Polsby's wonderful observations from his interviews and deft use of dataabout stability and change in Congress combined with his humor make the book hard to put down once you start reading it."--James A. Thurber, Professor and Director, Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies American University