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by Professor Donald R. Wolfensberger
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Politics & Government
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    Professor Donald R. Wolfensberger
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    The Johns Hopkins University Press (March 24, 2000)
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    320 pages
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    Politics & Government
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In Congress and the People, Donald R. Wolfensberger asks whether .

In Congress and the People, Donald R. Wolfensberger asks whether some form of direct democracy will supplant representative, deliberate government in the United States. Woodrow Wilson Center Press with Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001. ISBN: 978-0-8018-6726-2. This book contains the best and finest understanding of Congressional behavior I know and makes anew-and in the context of current political issues and means of communication-our founders’ case for deliberative, representative democracy. Anthony C. Beilenson, former . Representative from California.

Woodrow Wilson Center Press ; Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press. Term limits and the scarlet letter - The electronic Congress - The curtain falls twice on the House - The future of deliberative democracy. inlibrary; printdisabled; ; china.

book by Donald R. Wolfensberger.

Wolfensberger, Professor Donald R. Congress and the People: Deliberative Democracy on. .Donald R. Wolfensberger served as a staff member in Congress from 1969 to 1997, working for such House members as John B. Anderson, Trent Lott, and Lynn Martin

ISBN 13: 9780801863073. Anderson, Trent Lott, and Lynn Martin. He is currently the director of the Congress Project at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

Donald R. Wolfensberger is director of the Congress Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. One fee. Stacks of books.

Congress and the People book. Published April 27th 2001 by Johns Hopkins University Press (first published March 24th 2000). by. 0801867266 (ISBN13: 9780801867262).

Is the internet intrinsically democratic, making every user a publisher and supporting new varieties of expression and association? Or is it a dangerous vehicle of propaganda, helping repressive governments to deceive their people and mobs to drive democratic governments to extremes? In Democracy and the Internet: Allies or Adversaries? three essays draw evidence from starkly different regions of the world.

Reorganizing Congress and the Executive in Response to Focusing Events. Lessons of the Past, Portents of the Future. A paper prepared for presentation at the Southern Political Science Association Meeting, New Orleans Louisiana, January 8-10, 2004. Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Wolfensberger is a BPC fellow . Wolfensberger is a BPC fellow, and congressional scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He served as a staff member in the . House of Representatives for 28 years, beginning as legislative director for his home district Representative John B. Anderson, from 1969 to 1978.

Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856 – February 3, 1924) was an American politician, lawyer, and academic who served as the 28th president of the United States from 1913 to 1921

Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856 – February 3, 1924) was an American politician, lawyer, and academic who served as the 28th president of the United States from 1913 to 1921. A member of the Democratic Party, Wilson served as the president of Princeton University and as the 34th governor of New Jersey before winning the 1912 presidential election. As president, he oversaw the passage of progressive legislative policies unparalleled until the New Deal in 1933.

Will some form of direct democracy supplant representative, deliberative government in the twenty-first century United States? That question is at the heart of Donald R. Wolfensberger's history of Congress and congressional reform, which runs back to the Constitution's creation of a popularly elected House of Representatives and forward to the surreal ending of the 105th Congress, featuring barrels of pork, resignation of the speaker, and impeachment of the president.

The author's expertise comes from twenty-eight years as a staff member in the House, culminating in service as chief of staff of the powerful House Rules Committee. He was a top parliamentary expert and a principal Republican procedural strategist. Sensitive to the power of process, Wolfensberger is an authoritative guide to reform efforts of earlier eras. And as a participant in reforms since the 1960s, he offers a unique perspective on forging the "1970s sunshine coalition," televising House proceedings, debating term limits, and coping with democracy in an electronic age.

D. R. Wolfensberger has produced a work that is exceptionally relevant for our times. While many books of the political science genre are boring and confusing to the average reader, Congress & The People: Deliberative Democracy On Trial was interesting to read and easy to understand. The Founders of our nation instituted a system of representative, deliberative democracy in which Congressional representatives, Congressmen and Senators, are elected by the people and represent their constituency in creating and passing laws that govern this country. The alternative to that is a direct democracy in which the whole of the citizenry vote on every particular bill. The author provides an exacting background analysis into how and why the Founders decided on the form of representative deliberative democracy that, while having evolved somewhat, is still in use today. The book begins in the post-Revolution United States, as the Founders discuss what the Constitution should consist of and how the federal government should be structured. After covering all that it took to create the Constitution and the three branches of our current government, the author moves the reader briefly through the early 20th century providing a look at how Congress has changed over roughly one hundred years. Following this brief stop the reader finds himself in the post-Vietnam War 1970s. For the next eight chapters the author discusses changes to Congress and Congressional procedures due to such influences as improved mass media, television, Vietnam, presidential impeachment, calls for term limits, etc.. The final chapter delivers a thoughtful conclusion that provides a capstone explanation of Congressional behavior from the past to the present and what the future of deliberative democracy should be.
The author takes a critical look at the birth, maturation, and current status of deliberative democracy in the United States. Is deliberative democracy still a viable means of self-governance or should direct democracy now take over with assistance from the technological revolution that is taking place? Moreover, if deliberative democracy is still the wisest avenue are the current and future generations of Senators and Congressmen up to the task, morally and ethically, of carrying out the people's will without putting their own desires ahead of what is good for the nation? These are the questions the author seeks to answer throughout his book.
As previously mentioned the author examines the constitutional origin of our form of government with great detail in order to determine how and why our country operates under a representative, deliberative democracy versus a direct democracy. He very openly and accurately illustrates how the Founders decided after much debate that the citizenry could not be trusted with the governance of the country. In 1789 Representative Thomas Hartley of Pennsylvania concluded that:
"We have seen it attended with bad consequences both in England and America when the passions of the people are excited, instructions have been resorted to and obtained to answer party purposes; and although the public opinion is generally respectable, yet at such moments it has been known to be often wrong; and happy is that Government composed of men of firmness and wisdom to discover and resist popular error."
It was believed that the average citizen would not be well enough informed to understand the issues of the day and how passionate, not rational, legislation would affect the long-term health of our democracy. It is also made quite clear in the first few chapters of the book that the founding fathers were primarily concerned with how the decisions they made concerning government structure and procedures would protect the "people against tyranny". This resulted in a fair amount of trust in the Congress. Although the final chapters find the American people both not capable of and not interested in direct democracy, the author clearly illustrates a shift in thinking on behalf of modern Senators and Congressmen. Instead of deliberative concerns about governmental tyranny and liberty modern congressional representatives are concerned with how they will look on television, whether they will be reelected and how to fulfill the emotional desires of their constituency. Substantive legislation is hard to come by having been crowded out by "feel good" legislation designed to keep politicians in a job and give political pundits something to talk about. This has resulted in a fair amount of distrust.
As part of the discussion of current political practices Wolfensberger explains, in the last chapter, how we may be in a phase of virtual direct democracy due to the increasing use of technology. As politicians have become more concerned with reelection they have become more reactive to their constituency instead of deliberating legislative issues with their fellow representatives. Constituents are able to communicate with their representatives through faxes and e-mails almost instantly. Due to televised, open sessions of Congress, citizens get instant access to what is happening in the House and Senate and may tend to be more reactionary about current issues. This results in immediate calls for emotionally driven legislation by the people and immediate reactions of constituency placation by representatives. Hence, logical, rational debate has, in large degree, been taken out of the current political process. The result has been symbolism over substance.
Deliberative democracy must survive in order to promote national stability. In order for it to survive in a less reactionary fashion Congress will have to regain the trust of the American people. While "a certain level of mistrust is a long-standing and healthy feature of American life", the citizens of this nation must recognize that the people they vote for and send to Congress are there to act not only on behalf of the people they represent but also on behalf of the nation as a whole. National stability comes from rational deliberated legislation. Without men of "firmness and wisdom" the nation will surely lose its way.
Congress & The People: Deliberative Democracy On Trial is extremely relevant to our times and should be read by anyone interested in the future of this country. This book not only contains outstanding examples of Congressional behavior but explains why these behaviors occur as well. Those that are unhappy with the current system and believe that the Founders of our country had something else in mind when they made the plan for our government should definitely read this work.
I stumbled on this book at a good friend's home and, having nothing better to do, started thumbing through it. Well, an hour later I realized that I had stumbled on something quite remarkable. You would assume from the subject matter that it would be dry and heavy going. Not so. I found it most absorbing, giving insight to the real Congress, not what you might discern from news reports. The author obviously knows and enjoys his subject and it comes through clearly and informatively.