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Midterm 3 - I Institutions of American politics a...

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3/16/08 I. Institutions of American politics a. Legislature b. Executive judiciary  c. Bureaucracy II. Institutions a. Over-arching theme=strength of these institutions b. U.S. has a weak state i. But that is  not  because we have weak institutions c. Quite the contrary, our institutions are among the strongest in the  world i. Professional, many resources d. Strong… but not coordinated e. Separation of powers i. Different constituencies, different election/selection criteria,  different schedules f. Often pull in different directions III. Congress a. Attitudes toward b. Fascinating institution c. Unique institution d. Sources of independence  IV. Attitudes toward congress a. Public dislikes i. Inefficient, corrupt, foolish, self-interested ii. N.B. citizens like their own MCs, however b. Political scientists  love  the congress i. Fascinating institution ii. Methodological and substantive reasons V. Methodologically Fascinating a. We can  know  more about the congress
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i. Knowledge=justified true belief b. Multimember institution i. Control for numerous conditions c. Highly accessible i. Multimember, offices, public d. Amendable to many approaches i. Quantitative, participant/observer, rational choice,  competitive VI. Substantively Fascinating, too a. Unique among worlds “legislatures” b. Etymology i. “legislature” from Latin  lex =law,  lature =past participle form of  ferre , bearer or giver c. relatively few “legislatures” actually have significant and  independent impact on law VII. Parliaments a. Most “legislatures” are really parliaments b. Etymologically from the Latinate French i. Parler =to speak c. Parliaments are places where speeches are made… not  necessarily laws i. Great political theater… little independent impact ii. Ex: British Parliament… laws made by executive, working  through the majority party VIII. Congress does not mean Parliament a. Etymologically i. Latin,  com =with and  gradus =walk b. Not a place for great speeches i. But a place for cooperation, compromise, and law making  ii. Slow, but significant IX. Architecture a. Architecture betrays difference in institutional design and purpose
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i. House of commons in confrontational ii. House of representatives is cooperative X. Why is congress unique a. Why are MCs and senators more powerful and more independent  that members of any other “legislature”? b. Three reasons: i. Independent elections (SOP)     1. Founders’ belief in SOP a. President is not prime minister b. Congress doesn’t have to support government 2. Candidates chosen in primaries a. Not picked by party (as in Britain) 3. Congressional elections are  local 4. MCs are very popular  vis- à -vis  the president a. Consider 1988 election b. Bush, Sr. won 55% of popular vote and 80% of 
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