Pluralist Democracy in the United States: Conflict and Consent

Pluralist Democracy in the United States: Conflict and Consent

Pluralist Democracy in the United States: Conflict and Consent

Pluralist Democracy in the United States: Conflict and Consent

Excerpt

If the President has become the main source of drive, energy, and leadership in the American political system, what functions does the Congress perform?

The Congress and the Convention

The design of the Congress presented the Convention not only with some of its easiest problems but also with a few of its thorniest ones. That there must be a legislative body was a matter beyond debate. That it must consist of two houses; that one of these must represent 'the people'; that the national legislature must have power to make national law; that this body would be the chief if not, in fact, the exclusive source of national law, other than the Constitution itself; that it would serve as a check on the President--these propositions were not seriously contested.

So far, then, as the intentions of the Convention are clear, the minimum functions of the Congress were three: to make national laws, to represent 'the people,' and to check and control the power of the Chief Executive. These functions were obviously inter-related. Given the political ideas prevalent in the United States at that time, and in the Convention, the only legitimate source of new laws, other than amendments to the Constitution, would be the legislature. Most of the delegates doubt-

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