Congress at the Grassroots: Representational Change in the South, 1970-1998

Congress at the Grassroots: Representational Change in the South, 1970-1998

Congress at the Grassroots: Representational Change in the South, 1970-1998

Congress at the Grassroots: Representational Change in the South, 1970-1998

Synopsis

However much politicians are demeaned and denounced in modern American society, our democracy could not work without them. For this reason, says Richard Fenno, their activities warrant our attention. In his pioneering book, ###Home Style#, Fenno demonstrated that a close look at politicians at work in their districts can tell us a great deal about the process of representation. Here, Fenno employs a similarly revealing grassroots approach to explore how patterns of representation have changed in recent decades.

Fenno focuses on two members of the U.S. House of Representatives who represented the same west-central Georgia district at different times: Jack Flynt, who served from the 1950s to the 1970s, and Mac Collins, who has held the seat in the 1990s. His on-the-scene observation of their differing representational styles -- Flynt focuses on people, Collins on policy -- reveals the ways in which social and demographic changes inspire shifts in representational strategies.

More than a study of representational change in one district, ###Congress at the Grassroots# also helps illuminate the larger subject of political change in the South and in the nation as a whole.

Excerpt

This book is about political change in America as reflected in changing patterns of representation. the research focus is on two members of the U. S. House of Representatives, each of whom represented the same district, but at different points in time, one from the 1950s to the 1970s, the other in the 1990s. the research question is threefold. First, what, if anything, has changed in the way in which the two House members have gone about the job of representing their constituents? Second, how might we explain this change? and third, how might the explanation of this change help us to explain representational change more generally?

The research approach is based on the idea that representation is a process; that it is, in part, a grassroots process; and that questions of representational change can therefore usefully be studied at the grassroots level. the research strategy is one of on-the-scene personal observation of the two representatives at work in a congressional district in west-central Georgia, just south of Atlanta.

While the study is directly about representational change in one district, the hope is that it might also contribute to the larger subject of political change in the South. District-level change—from a mostly rural, one-party Democratic district to a mostly suburban, Republican-dominated one—surely has relevance for the study of political change in the region. a further hope is that in its conceptualization and focus—if not in its scope—the study might contribute something to the larger study of political change nationwide. It might, for example, help us to understand the increasingly polarized partisanship we have been observing in the House of Representatives in Washington.

The years preceding the new millennium have not been friendly to America's politicians. As a group, they have been ranked near the bottom of the ladder of occupational respect. As individuals, they have not been held up as role models. More parents than ever are . . .

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