floor decisions taken by the caucus majority should not be more difficult than modeling decision making within a congressional committee. Similarly, the implications of decision-making sequences in parliamentary systems that place committee decisions after floor discussion should be at least as interesting as the power congressional committees may gain from their placement at the conference stage of deliberation. The point is that formal modelers have unnecessarily restricted their efforts to the Congress. The data-gathering reasons that influence the "America first" approach of normal science practitioners do not apply to those who design deductive models. And the cost of this decision is great because it is through such models that theories of legislative (as opposed to congressional) behavior may come.
In summary, normal science, in its quest for narrow questions with narrow answers typically avoids comparative and/or diachronic analysis; and formal models, at least at this nascent stage in their development, have dealt only with the Congress. This means that legislative research remains theoretically impoverished. Its lack of comparative focus is part of the problem; one can no more have a theory of legislatures that applies only to the United States Congress, than a theory of relativity that applies only to Chicago. Even a theory of Congress has proven elusive; few congressional scholars have had the inclination to put the various narrow studies together, and those who have attempted to do so have operated more at the level of description and speculation than explanation. This work has produced various "perspectives" or ways of looking at legislative behavior, but little in the way of theory.
Work on these perspectives, one hastens to add, still needs to be encouraged because as they synthesize and interpret the narrower work associated with normal science they can start us toward theory. Such efforts are at once creative, risky, and important. They involve imaginative leaps, and bold, often controversial pronouncements. They invite criticism from those committed to normal science, but if successful, such work can change the way all of us, including normal scientists, think about the field. Mayhew's The Electoral Connection is such a work. Drawing primarily on the empirical work of others, he attempted to step back from the "trees" and look at more general patterns. Although frequently criticized for its descriptive and non-empirical approach, there should be little debate about the extent to which it has shaped the thinking and the research agendas of a generation of legislative scholars.
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