The Legislative Struggle: A Study in Social Combat

The Legislative Struggle: A Study in Social Combat

The Legislative Struggle: A Study in Social Combat

The Legislative Struggle: A Study in Social Combat

Excerpt

There are at least three motives behind the writing of "The Legislative Struggle."

First, while serving as a staff adviser to various Senate committees and later as an official in the Executive Office of the President, I long ago learned that many people felt the need for a book which could serve as a guide in the handling of concrete legislative problems.

True, many books were available on the organization, rules, and history of Congress, on the case histories of individual laws, on proposals for congressional reform, and on governmental operations as a whole. But none had ever attempted to deal in practical terms with the full gamut of problems that arise from questions of whether and when to seek legislative action to the final issues revolving around Presidential signature or veto.

Ignorance is not tolerated as an excuse for breaking the law. Yet ignorance accounts for the failure of many Americans to do their share in making the law. Baffled by the complexities of the lawmaking process, the average American finds it difficult to weigh the promises or appraise the accomplishments of the congressional candidates who seek his vote. He is easy prey for legislative double talk. When he is bestirred to petition the lawmakers directly, the result is often pathetic. The wastebaskets of Congressmen overflow with mail of the wrong kind to the wrong person on the wrong subject. The office buildings of Washington are filled with organizations that have never penetrated to the inner sanctum; their efforts for the most part end in futility. The lobbies of Capitol Hill teem with lawyers, public-relations men, and ex- government officials who accomplish little except to wrest large fees from gullible individuals, associations, and corporations.

Nor is the average public official given the clue to the mystery by virtue of his office. Many a well-meaning administrator, for want of knowledge concerning currents and soundings, has steered a government program on the legislative rocks. In fact, the expanding science of public administration is yielding large numbers of administrators, all well fitted for a world run entirely by administrators, but having little or no understanding of relations with legislators. Many a judge, too, in rendering a decision, will talk learnedly about "legislative intent," although his interpretation of the statue in question may be based upon an utterly naïve conception of how laws are born.

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