Back to School Offer

Get 20% of Your First Order amount back in Reward Credits!

Get 20% of Your First Orderback in Rewards

All papers examples
Get a Free E-Book! ($50 Value)
HIRE A WRITER!
Paper Types
Disciplines
Get a Free E-Book! ($50 Value)

Deliberation or Dysfunction, Research Paper Example

Pages: 6

Words: 1612

Research Paper

Deliberation or Dysfunction: An Analysis of the health of America’s Legislative Bodies

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “dysfunctional” as “impaired or abnormal functioning.” An example of something dysfunctional is a liver that fails. Another example, according to some critics of American politics is America’s Congress.Some complain that Congress is ineffective and unable to get as much done as it should, because of stubbornness and gridlock.  Others suggest that Congress has forgotten its real duties and has become more concerned with postures than policy. With Congress’s approval rating now at record lows, and congress plagued with problems ranging from sexual scandals to Charlie Rangel’s financial wrong doings, it is easy to sympathize with the critics. There is certainlyplenty wrong with the America’s legislators.Yet some of the very things that frustrate today’s media figures and political critics may be signs that the system is working as it was intended to. Still, for some objections there are no good answers. Therefore, Congress may, very well, be dysfunctional.

One of the main purposes of the founding fathers was to protect the union from the dangers of factions. Indeed, in Federalist Paper No. 10, James Madison wrote the following:

Among the numerous advantages promised by a well constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction.(Madison)

Madison realized that those who were in control would not always be “enlightened statesmen” and that they would not always put the good of the whole union in front of individual interests. He realized also that in a direct Democracy, the will of the majority would almost always overpower the will of minorities. So he suggested a number of measures to help prevent abuse. One of these was to make sure legislative bodies were made up of many in order to protect citizens from “the cabals of a few.” And he suggested that representatives be elected by citizens in each state, so that they could be held accountable by their constituents(Madison).

By creating such a large body of representatives, the founding fathers meant to create a body that was slow and deliberative. This slowness would help protect against hastily made decisions and encourage legislators to thoroughly debate over issues before passing legislation that might be harmful to the union. By ensuring that citizens had input into the process, the fathers prevented governing bodies from becoming only loyal to one another and ensured that they would also keep the interests of their constituents in mind. These provisions are important to keep in mind when considering whether or not Congress remains healthy(Madison).

It is also helpful to look closely at the functions that Congress is supposed to perform. The Political Science Student Reader breaks up the duties of Congress into four main functions, which are the following: Lawmaking, Representation, Constituent Services and Oversight. Lawmaking, says The Student Reader, includes not only drafting legislation, but deliberating. Representation, meanwhile, must be balanced with one’s duty to act on behalf of the nation as a whole. Constituent Services entails helping constituents interact with the government. Oversight involves making sure that the executive branch implements and enforces the legislation Congress has passed(Student Reader). One can get a good idea of how healthy Congress actually is by looking at how well it performs each of the functions it meant to perform, while keeping Madison’s protections in mind.

Many critics think that Congress is in a very unhealthy state. For instance, Gene Healy, vice president of the CATO institute, criticizes Congress for being ineffective, because while constitution gives Congress a great deal of power over war and peace, Congress has failed to use its power. Indeed, Healy says the following:

The Constitution gives Congress vast powers over war and peace, and charges it with making the laws of the land. Yet our feckless legislators prefer to punt the hard decisions to the president and the permanent bureaucracy, even if it leaves the rest of us mired in uncertainty and crushing debt. What do we pay these people for?(Healy 1)

Healy is saying that Congress seems unable to effectively use the powers it has been given. Many members of Congress did criticize Former President Bush for his military action in Iraq, yet few actually tried to do anything about it. In Healy’s mind, this means that Congress is dysfunctional. But what Healy is overlooking is the fact that Congress actually did act in Iraq. Indeed, it passed a resolution approving military action. Clearly, then, Congress did support the original intervention. Part of the reason many legislators began protesting against the war was because some of their constituents had become unhappy with it. It is possible, then, that the reason behind the disparity between Congressional words and actions was that Congress felt the need to balance national security interests with their individual desire for re-election. If this is the case, the body is not necessarily dysfunctional. Indeed, it is operating in the way that Mr. Madison anticipated it would.

Still, Healy is far from the only critic. Carl Bernstein, who, along with Bob Woodward exposed the Watergate scandal, calls Congress “alargely dysfunctional institution….that it is just bedeviled by partisan gridlock.”(Silva 1) For Bernstein, the problem with Congress, then, is that it seems to him as if Congress is unable to get things done because of partisan bickering. But Congress is meant, not only to draft legislation, but to properly deliberate it. Disagreement between parties and individuals is important.

Indeed, if one considers deliberation as a protection against dangerous factions, it is absolutely essential for the safety and well-being of the country. Lawmakers ought to be able to prevent bad legislation from passing. Suppose someone attempted to pass a bill that called for racial segregation. The fact that Congress got stuck in gridlock would seem to be a good thing. The fact that Congress often finds itself in Gridlock, then, is not necessarily a sign that Congress is dysfunctional. It might mean that Congress is actually performing in the way in which it should.

Still, there are other objections to Congress’s performance. Townhall’s John Hawkins complains that American legislators have become career politicians. Indeed, he says the following:

In large swathes of the country, if you get elected once, don’t get caught with any bribe money in your freezer, and adhere to the party line; you will be in Congress until your aides are dragging you in off your deathbed to vote for a pig farm earmark for your district.(Hawkins)

For Hawkins, the problem with Congress is that senators and Congressman lack the incentive to act for any interests other than their own.  This is a real problem and there is certainly truth to what Hawkins says. One has only to look at the Charlie Rangel case to see how the pursuit of personal interests can hurt American politics and the American people. But the last election showed that when the American people become sufficiently upset by the conduct of their representatives, they will vote them out of office. 59 incumbents were voted out in the House, along with two well known senators – Russ Feingold and Blanche Lincoln.(Politico Staff) Corruption is a problem, but it is one that the people can and do remedy. The system, therefore, does not appear to be broken. It appears to be working.

One of the most interesting accusations of dysfunction comes from Kevin Portteus, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Hillsdale College, who says that the problem with Congress is that it has given up its role of actual legislation to focus entirely on debate and posturing. Congress, says Portteus, has delegated away its original responsibility.Congress has done this so often, says Portteus, that it has forgotten how to legislate and is unable to do so when it must.  There is a great deal of evidence for Portteus’s position. One of the clearest examples of this is the way members of Congress handled the Healthcare debate. First, memberscould not agree on whose version to use. When they finally did agree, it became clear that they did not know what they were doing. Indeed, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus indicated that he had not read the entire healthcare bill himself. This indicates that the legislators are not the ones who are actually legislating(Fabian 1).

Congress also seems to have little idea how to manage its financial crisis. Although the country has a trillion dollar deficit, Congress seems unwilling to cut spending when it must. Frustration with this scenario led Indiana Senator Evan Bayh to announce he would not seek re-election. Indeed, Bayh declared that “Congress was not operating as it should” and that “the people’s business was not being done.”(Silva 1) For this problem, there is little defense. A legislator’s main duty is to legislate. If Congress cannot do this, then there is no point in having a Congress.  Therefore, while some of the signs that point to congressional dysfunction are actually signs that Congress functions properly, the body seems to be failing to perform its most important job.If, indeed, Congress has forgotten how to legislate, it can, then, be rightly said, that Congress is dysfunctional.

Works Cited

Fabian, Jordan. “Key Senate Democrat suggests that he didn’t read entire healthcare reform bill.” 25 August 2010. The Hill. 20 November 2010. Web.

Hawkins, John. “Seven Reasons Government Has Become Completely Dysfunctional in America.” 20 April 2010. Townhall. 20 November 2010. Web.

Healy, Gene. “Has Congress Become Useless?” 3 August 2010. The Washington Examiner. 18 November 2010.

Madison, James. “The Federalist No. 10.” 22 November 1787. Constitution.org. 18 November 2010.

Politico Staff. “Incumbents who have lost: Grayson, Feingold, Lincoln.” 2 November 2010. Politico. 20 November 2010.

Silva, Mark. “Congress ‘dysfunctional,’ Bernstein says.” 16 Februrary 2009. The Swamp. 18 November 2010.

Student Reader. Student Reader’s Political Science Notes. 18 November 2010.

Time is precious

Time is precious

don’t waste it!

Get instant essay
writing help!
Get instant essay writing help!
Plagiarism-free guarantee

Plagiarism-free
guarantee

Privacy guarantee

Privacy
guarantee

Secure checkout

Secure
checkout

Money back guarantee

Money back
guarantee

Related Research Paper Samples & Examples

What Can Be Learned From the History of the Marshall Plan About the Importance of the United States, Research Paper Example

Introduction After the ending of the Second World War in 1945 Europe was changed forever and began a transformation of re-construction of buildings, culture and [...]

Pages: 8

Words: 2098

Research Paper

What Is the Future of the Canadian Economy as the Government Ends Stimulus Spending, Research Paper Example

Q1 |  Jim Flaherty, The Federal Minister of Finance for the Canadian Government expressed the following economic ideology on the ending of stimulus spending :-  [...]

Pages: 6

Words: 1595

Research Paper

Relationships Between Nursing Concepts, Research Paper Example

Abstract In the field of nursing, the major components come together in an almost limitless number of ways. The nurse, the environment, the state of [...]

Pages: 4

Words: 1091

Research Paper

PepsiCo Supply Chain, Research Paper Example

Abstract Supply chain management is an ongoing process that must constantly be evaluated and adjusted to enable corporations to improve efficiency and decrease costs.  Currently, [...]

Pages: 5

Words: 1432

Research Paper

Hearing-impaired Children, Research Paper Example

When parents have a child with hearing impairment, they are presented with a variety of challenges regarding their child’s social, physical, and academic development.  Hearing [...]

Pages: 10

Words: 2815

Research Paper

Crime Pattern Analysis, Research Paper Example

Abstract Crime Pattern Analysis is discussed within the context of Criminal Justice.  A brief definition exploring the concept of Crime Pattern Analysis and the theoretical [...]

Pages: 3

Words: 782

Research Paper

What Can Be Learned From the History of the Marshall Plan About the Importance of the United States, Research Paper Example

Introduction After the ending of the Second World War in 1945 Europe was changed forever and began a transformation of re-construction of buildings, culture and [...]

Pages: 8

Words: 2098

Research Paper

What Is the Future of the Canadian Economy as the Government Ends Stimulus Spending, Research Paper Example

Q1 |  Jim Flaherty, The Federal Minister of Finance for the Canadian Government expressed the following economic ideology on the ending of stimulus spending :-  [...]

Pages: 6

Words: 1595

Research Paper

Relationships Between Nursing Concepts, Research Paper Example

Abstract In the field of nursing, the major components come together in an almost limitless number of ways. The nurse, the environment, the state of [...]

Pages: 4

Words: 1091

Research Paper

PepsiCo Supply Chain, Research Paper Example

Abstract Supply chain management is an ongoing process that must constantly be evaluated and adjusted to enable corporations to improve efficiency and decrease costs.  Currently, [...]

Pages: 5

Words: 1432

Research Paper

Hearing-impaired Children, Research Paper Example

When parents have a child with hearing impairment, they are presented with a variety of challenges regarding their child’s social, physical, and academic development.  Hearing [...]

Pages: 10

Words: 2815

Research Paper

Crime Pattern Analysis, Research Paper Example

Abstract Crime Pattern Analysis is discussed within the context of Criminal Justice.  A brief definition exploring the concept of Crime Pattern Analysis and the theoretical [...]

Pages: 3

Words: 782

Research Paper

Get a Free E-Book ($50 in value)

Get a Free E-Book

How To Write The Best Essay Ever!

How To Write The Best Essay Ever!