Observing the polarized, debilitating politics of today's Congress, one wonders whether change is possible on Capitol Hill. In Thinking about Congress, Lawrence Dodd reminds us that Congress seemed equally intransigent at times the past, yet change and rejuvenation came. Reading his classic essays, one sees Congress move from Committee Government in mid-twentieth century to Liberal Democratic reforms in the 1970s to the 1994 Republican Revolution to Party Government today. Simultaneously, one proceeds with Dodd to an ever-deeper understanding of the dynamic character of Congress.
Across forty years of watching paralysis give way to change, Dodd crafts a theory of congressional cycles - essay by essay - that explains why Congress evolves. However permanent periods of intransigency appear, the theory argues, they can and do give way to growing concern by legislators and parties for the collective public-interest; to citizen demand for change generated by social crises; and to innovative ideas about politics and policy. With these developments come policy breakthrough, institutional renewal, and enormous social progress.
A rare book, Thinking about Congress holds out hope for the future while illuminating both the process and object of inquiry.
About the Author:
Lawrence C. Dodd holds the Manning J. Dauer Eminent Scholar Chair in Political Science at the University of Florida. His books include Coalitions in Parliamentary Government, Congress and the Administrative State, Learning Democracy, and nine editions of Congress Reconsidered. The university selected him as 2007 Teacher-Scholar of the Year, its highest faculty honor.