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Unformatted text preview: Decisions on the Floor: Cue-Taking 1 Review of decision situation 1. Voting right in non-specialty area won’t help (but it might buy a few points with white house or party leadership) 2. Voting wrong probably won’t hurt, but language of members is rich in words about landmines, booby traps, time bombs, snags etc.—all describing the same thing, hidden dangers. They watch each other and they’ve all seen it happen that some nothing issue turned into a political killer. Like stepping on a landmine, it doesn’t happen often, but once is all that matters. So for #1, it doesn’t make sense to invest impossibly scarce time in roll-call voting decisions; there is no payoff. But for #2, they badly need a way to avoid those hidden dangers The decision to become a policy spet requires also the decision to make decisions outside the specialty by some extraordinarily economical, but nonetheless safe, decision mechanism. 2 How to Avoid the Snags? Take Cues How? Take cues from other members. ...I think that has to be a factor ...that we tend to become more and more specialized. We therefore have less and less time to read generally on these issues ... 1 That question goes to the heart of one of the greatest difficulties a member has. If a member really works at his job, then his time is so completely taken up in detail, in attempting to serve his constituents, in attempting to help somebody, to go to meetings with people who are here from your district, to go to all the committee meeting and caucuses—that sort of thing. Time is one of the scarcest items of all and you do not have time unless you take it away from some other worthwhile activity to study legislation. 2.1 Why other members? And not President, not constituents, not lobbyists, not Washington Post. 1. Peer Identification Members think of other members as people like themselves, common experiences (the campaign), common backgrounds—they’ve all been through the same initiation ceremony. 2. They are all successful professional politicians. They didn’t get to Washington by being casual or sloppy in thinking about the political consequences of positions The congressional word: “saavy” None of those others, e.g. White House staff people, can be trusted to have it. 3. Quality of other members’ judgment exceptionally easy to evaluate. You see it put to the test every day—and on top of that they serve together for years and face everything that comes up over and over again. It is hard to imagine any situation even remotely close to a legislature in its ability to display information about how other people think, And that information is essentially free—you are exposed to it without having to seek it, like exposure to elevator music; it’s just there....
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This note was uploaded on 11/27/2011 for the course POLI 100 taught by Professor Rabinowitz during the Fall '07 term at UNC.
- Fall '07