The United States Congress is a leading American institution that is aimed to represent the actions of the government and ensure democracy in the country. From one perspective, the Congress reflects the will of the people. From the other one, its actions are strongly disregarded by the population that it is aimed to defend. Hence, there are good reasons to investigate the underlying reasons for such an ambiguous attitude of people towards this institution. This paper will examine the Congress Place in American politics on the basis of three essays provided by David Brady and Sean Theriault, John Hibbing and Elizabeth Theiss-Morse, and James Stimson.
To begin with, it is necessary to summarize the strong and weak ideas of the authors. Hibbing and Theiss-Morse represent the most laconic work focused on the origin of the Congress' dislike. In particular, they narrow the disregard of the Congress not to its dislike as an institution, but the negative attitude to the governing process (Hibbing and Theiss-Morse 3). According to this position, this disregard arises primarily from the transparency of its actions. This position can be disputable because people commonly want to participate in the political and social life. Moreover, there exist activists, who cannot only be strongly interested in the governmental actions, but even demand for the transparency and explanation of some decisions. While a number of media sources reflect the Congress actions, the public is interested to know about them. Therefore, the argument on the negative attitude to the visibility of the actions of the Congress is not so effective. Hibbing and Theiss-Morse are convinced that the main reason for the Congress dislike is predetermined by the failures in the political system. Hence, the political reform should be applied in order to change the public attitude towards the government (Hibbing and Theiss-Morse 3).
However, they do not actually describe the reform and its main points, which makes it not completely clear in what way the attitude will be changed. The authors emphasize that the democratic processes commonly lead to uncertainty (Hibbing and Theiss-Morse 4). While these processes are often based on the compromise, Americans tend to dislike the compromises, debates, slowness and many other issues that characterize democracy. According to Hibbing and Theiss-Morse, Americans want procedural equity and efficiency, which means stealth democracy, which will not make them involved (Hibbing and Theiss-Morse 5). However, to my mind, such position cannot be applied to all people and even not to the majority. At the same time, there are only a few pieces evidences to support this point of view. In such a way, after the review of the analysis provided by Hibbing and Theiss-Morse, the underlying reasons of human disgust towards the Congress are not completely clear. Although people want to make things easier, to my mind, the lack of desire to be involved cannot be considered as the serious reason of the Congress dislike. Although the beliefs of the public and their peculiar representation of democracy can differ and contribute to disregard of the above-mentioned institution, it is also necessary to pay attention to the actions of the Congress that can be not always appropriate as well.
How It Works
Brady and Theriault offer quite convincing and reliable arguments, showing that the criticism of the Congress dates back to the 1960ies (Brady and Theriault 15). Therefore, a number of reasons are analyzed in order to find the strongest one. Firstly, some actions of the Congress remain questionable. Hence, sometimes the actions of the Congress show that they sacrifice the integrity of the institution (Brady and Theriault 8). In addition to that, the second aspect is predetermined by the actions of the government that are based on their promises of the easy solutions to difficult problems (Brady and Theriault 8). As a result, the consequent inability to keep the word is the weakness of the Congress that leads to the negative attitude among people. The third issue that is referred to is the tactic of the Congress that cause bashing the institutions or relies on negative campaigns (Brady and Theriault 8). Consequently, it is quite normal that such policies push voters' away and evoke negative attitudes instead of the positive feelings. Finally, the public face of the Congress that is represented by the separation of the ideological and moderate representatives, who divide the views and attitudes of people about the work of the Cogress (Brady and Theriault 8). In addition to that, Brady and Theriault refer to the elections-related issues predetermined by Constitution as those that make the district division focus of the Congress members' work detrimental for the public opinion (Brady and Theriault 8). With regard to this, the current work seems to blame the Constitution and the choices of the Congressmen for the dislike. To my mind, such position is not complete and should be regarded in complex with the previous work, where the beliefs of the public were analyzed in more details.
The third work, written by Stimson, helps the readers to see the situation from various perspectives and provides the visual material that maximizes the understanding of the information. First of all, the author represents the view on the politicians' approval or disapproval from the perspective of trust or mistrust. Moreover, according to his position, it is necessary to consider the government's actions in complex, not the Congress separately, due to the fact that all government representatives perform the common function of ensuring the welfare of the population. The vivid example of Ronald Reagan's governing is a good illustrative example of how the actions of the president can cause the negative critics that would predetermine the disregard of both – the Senate and the president (Stimson 16). As one of the presidents, who transformed from the least approved to the most approved, the presidency of Reagan represents how the attitudes of people are shaped not just by their beliefs, but by actions of the government that can lead to trust or distrust (Stimson 17). Therefore, the above-mentioned situation is one of the evidence that the current attitude of the public to the government is to a great extent predetermined by the behavior of its members. According to Stimson, the investigation of people's approval or disapproval of the presidents and Congress should be considered in complex. Relying on the empirical research, Stimson also reflects the role of individual factors in estimating the definite senators (22). Hence, the useful information about individuals that can be presented in media is also influential to shape the beliefs of the public. However, dealing with the Congress, it is important to pay attention to the fact that it represents an institution instead of individuals. As a result, the attitudes of people are shaped due to the knowledge they have. In particular, the attitude towards individual representatives of the Senate is different while the information about them is clearer and more available. Such assumption contradicts the idea offered by Hibbing and Theiss-Morse. In addition, mentioning a number of theories related to the presidency and to the actions can be shaped by the economy; moreover, the research by Hibbing and Theiss-Morse stated that the Congress's actions are transparent (3). In fact, they can be transparent, but probably not clear enough for the public to make the unambiguous solutions. Moreover, the interesting conclusion offered by Stimson is that the attitudes of people are commonly lower for the major actors, who are responsible for various actions in the economy and social life. At the same time, the attitude towards those, who play a little role to produce outcomes is more positive (Stimson 27). With regard to this, one can conclude that Stimson's work contributes to public perception of the Congress as the most influential institution for political or economics-related decisions. Stimson seems quite reliable. Moreover, it offers the idea that the approval or disapproval of the governmental institutions depends on the welfare level in the society.
To summarize, in the first chapter, the authors represent the Congress disregard more as the fault of people's improper expectations and superficial desire to live in a democratic society. Even though this idea is quite interesting, the fault cannot rely solely on the public. In order to view the entire image clearly, it is necessary to analyze the issue from the perspective of the Congress and governmental failures or advantages in complex with the beliefs of people. Therefore, the second chapter seems more persuasive than the first one because it provides a detailed analysis of the Congress' misdoings that can finally lead to failures and disregard. From my perspective, the third chapter is the most persuasive about the underlying reasons of the Congress disregard. In particular, the use of historical examples, statistical data, and analysis of the situation in tandem with the role of the Senate and presidents ensures a better understanding of how human attitude to the governmental institutions and representatives is shaped.