The Congressional Experience: A View From The Hill by David E. Price

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David E. Price
Westview Press
Date of release


The Congressional Experience: A View From The Hill

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Book review

Everyone blames Congress; no one explains it. Congressman David Price, noted scholar and former professor of political science, is uniquely qualified to guide us through the labyrinth of rules, roles, and representatives that is Congress and to show us how the institution can and does function to solve some of the most pressing social problems on the national political agenda today. In an election year filled with name-calling, teeth-gnashing, and Congress-bashing, it is refreshing to hear Price discuss what it means to simultaneously serve his constituency, his country, and his strong personal convictions about good government.As students of the political process, we are instructed in campaign strategy and finance, the advantages and disadvantages of incumbency, how to get a legislative project off the ground, the intricate House committee and subcommittee system, the tortuous route a bill travels to become law, and the strong role of parties in Congress. As voters and constituents, we are treated to firsthand accounts of election campaigns fraught with negative ads, town meetings on Medicare, fierce budget battles on the floor of the House, and persistent efforts on behalf of individual North Carolinians.And as citizen-philosophers, we are drawn into an extended consideration of the complex interrelationships among politics, religion, and ethics. In this context, David Price looks at a variety of issues—the conscientious allocation of housing funds, the correlation between legislative structure and the quality of legislative policy, the confrontation between the public interest and special interests, and the maneuvering of the religious Right—through an introspective lens of moral concern.Congressman David Price shares invaluable insights into debates on such topics as campaign finance reform, congressional term limits, and controlling the federal deficit. At the same time, he imparts a personal glimpse into life “on the Hill” and its impacts on family, friends, and constituents. Congress, as Price is quick to point out, is certainly not without flaws, but the system will be better served by informed voters, committed representatives, and measured reforms than by ill-considered proposals that would weaken the institution. The Congressional Experience combines an engaging, enlightening narrative with photos, figures, maps, and tables to tell the story of David Price's odyssey from the ivory tower of Duke University to the citadel of Capitol Hill. Along the way, we get a clear sense of the challenge, disappointment, elation, and deep concern implicit in serving as a member of Congress—especially the kind of member David Price has chosen to be.

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