How Does the Incentive for Reelection Shape the Behavior of Members of Congress and How Can It Lead Them to Be Both Individually Responsive but Collectively Irresponsible?
As Madison described it in Federalist 57, regular elections assure that America’s legislators “will be compelled to anticipate the moment when their power is to cease, when their exercise of it is to be reviewed, and when they must descend to the level from which they were raised…unless a faithful discharge of their trust shall have established their title to a renewal of it.”
But, are congressmen concerned solely with elections, or are they concerned with policy goals as well? Political scientists have offered many theories on what exactly fuels the actions of the members of Congress. This essay will examine and compare three theories regarding the incentives of Congress members and how these incentives determine the actions members of Congress make, as well as present tests that would prove or disprove these theories. One of the leading theories on Congressional incentives is Morris Fiorina’s theory. Fiorina believes that Congressmen are driven by the incentive of reelections. He assumes that the majority of Congressmen act self-interest, and that many Congressmen are driven to seek reelection by the power, prestige, and excitement that the job of Representative or Senator brings them. He mentions that some Congressmen may have policy-oriented goals, but for them to take part in the policy-making process, they must remain in office.To test this theory, a political scientist must assess the time and resources used by Congressmen for certain activities (while working, of course), and find that the Congressmen emphasized reelection through their time and resources. If a Congressman were primarily concerned with reelection, he or she would spend most of their time and resources focusing on reelection- providing constituent service, passing pork barrel legislation, making noticeable speeches or voting to make their positions clear.
The local administration used these firm’s names in fake receipts to appropriate resources for public goods that were never provided. Another irregular practice, common in several municipalities, is a non-competitive procurement process (Ferejohn, J. 1986).
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