Divided We Govern

Divided We Govern: Party Control, Lawmaking, and Investigations, 1946-2002, Second Edition

DAVID R. MAYHEW
Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 286
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt32bfpb
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  • Book Info
    Divided We Govern
    Book Description:

    In this prize-winning book, a renowned political scientist debunks the commonly held myth that the American national government functions effectively only when one political party controls the presidency and Congress. For this new edition, David R. Mayhew has provided a new Preface, a new appendix, and a new concluding chapter that brings the historical narrative up to date."Important, accessible, and compelling, David Mayhew's second edition ofDivided We Governtakes the best book on the history of US lawmaking and-against all odds-makes it better."-Keith Krehbiel, Stanford University"In this welcome updating of his agenda-setting classic, David Mayhew cogently defends his original methodology and finds that divided government remains no less productive of important legislation than unified government, although it is now (thanks mainly to Clinton's impeachment) strongly associated with prominent investigations of the executive branch. Written with Mayhew's usual clarity and grace, this is a book to be enjoyed by beginning and veteran students of Congress alike."-Gary JacobsonFrom reviews of the first edition:"First-rate. . . . Mayhew's tabulations and analysis are, quite simply, unimpeachable."-Morris Fiorina,Washington Monthly"Will stand for years as a classic."-L. Sandy Maisel,Political Science Quarterly"Should be read by every student of American politics."-Gillian Peele,Times Higher Education Supplement

    eISBN: 978-0-300-18571-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. 1 INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-7)

    Since World War II, divided party control of the American national government has come to seem normal. Between the 1946 and 1990 elections, one of the two parties held the presidency, the Senate, and the House simultaneously for eighteen of those years. But control was divided for twenty-six years, it is divided right now, and we may see more such splits. Some opinion studies suggest that today’s voters prefer divided control on principle: Parties jointly in power are seen to perform a service by checking each other.¹

    Of course, divided control is not a new phenomenon. During a twenty- two-year...

  7. 2 HIGH-PUBLICITY INVESTIGATIONS
    (pp. 8-33)

    Beyond making laws, Congress probably does nothing more consequential than investigate alleged misbehavior in the executive branch. Consider the Teapot Dome investigation of the 1920s, Senator Joseph McCarthy’s search for Communists in the Army and State departments in 1953–54, the Watergate inquiries of 1973–74, and the Iran-Contra hearings of 1987. All these investigations attracted the media. When that happens, a probe can sometimes gain the attention of the public, weigh down the White House, trigger resignations of leading officials, and register a long-term impact on public opinion and government policy. Occasionally a probe leads to a dramatic confrontation...

  8. 3 LAWMAKING: SELECTING THE LAWS
    (pp. 34-50)

    In the legislative realm, what happened during the first two years of the New Deal that is worth remembering? Here are some of the laws passed during Roosevelt’s “hundred days” of 1933: the Emergency Banking Act, the National Industrial Recovery Act, the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA), the Federal Emergency Relief Act, the Home Owners’ Loan Act, the Securities Act, and measures creating the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). A measure to legalize low-alcohol-content beer cleared Congress. In 1934 came the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act, the Taylor Grazing Act, the...

  9. 4 LAWMAKING: THE ANALYSIS
    (pp. 51-99)

    Laws, or programs created by them, often enter our consciousness by way of catchphrases, initials, or their sponsors’ names. The record since World War II has a rich list of such shortcuts. Catchphrases associated with the era’s enactments include urban renewal, the Truman Doctrine, 90 percent of parity, Point Four, national origins quotas, Food for Peace, depressed areas, community action programs, wilderness areas, food stamps, model cities, rent supplements, Medicare, Medicaid, open housing, emissions standards, environmental impact statements, Amtrak, Conrail, revenue sharing, Pell grants, block grants, freedom of information, the oil depletion allowance, language minorities, Superfund, synfuels, budget reconciliation, deficit...

  10. 5 EXPLAINING THE PATTERNS, I
    (pp. 100-135)

    The lawmaking non-pattern of chapter 4 proves to resemble the investigating one of chapter 2. Neither result allows a flat claim that unified as opposed to divided party control makes “no difference.” The evidence cannot simply be added up into a verdict. But a judgment of at least “very little difference” seems safe in each case, even taking into account Watergate’s probes and the Great Society’s laws.

    Why is this? One answer can be dismissed. It is not as if parties do not amount to anything in American national politics. They amount to a great deal. Although scarcely monoliths, they...

  11. 6 EXPLAINING THE PATTERNS, II
    (pp. 136-174)

    Politicians and processes seem to account for much of the “evening out” of differences across unified and divided control. But that is not the whole story. For more illumination, one needs to shift the emphasis away from inside-the-Beltway modes of aspiration and action and to focus on influences from the outside world. That is the task of chapter 6. All the arguments in it will address investigating as well as lawmaking.

    Some laws, as noted earlier, are obviously triggered by events.¹ If “events” occurred randomly and entirely outside the control of political actors, and if an “event” were a necessary,...

  12. 7 CONCLUSION
    (pp. 175-199)

    There is no way to assign numbers on a scorecard to the various explanations that have been presented in chapters 5 and 6. But a brief discussion that juxtaposes them may be useful. Table 7.1 lists them, along with an item that was mentioned: norms.

    To summarize the points about investigations, it seems plausible to conclude that norms, electoral incentives, and perhaps events contribute toconstancy(see the categories in table 7.1). They impinge on members of Congress year in and year out, or at least events such as outbreaks of executive-branch corruption do so often and perhaps randomly. So...

  13. EPILOGUE: THE RECORD DURING 1991–2002
    (pp. 200-226)

    Since 1990, the study of U.S. lawmaking has mushroomed in both volume and variety. One leading question has been: How should we think about legislative productivity? In conceptual terms, there has emanated a two-pronged fork. On one prong are what might be calleddenominatororratiostudies—that is, analyses that feature “some actually-did-pass numerator over some all-that-were-possibilities-for-passage denominator.”¹ In recent years, several authors have contributed excellent work by deploying various denominators—for example, proposals on which presidents take a stand,² pledges in party platforms,³ and policy issues discussed inNew York Timeseditorials.⁴ For any Congress it can be...

  14. APPENDIX A SOURCES FOR SWEEP ONE (CONTEMPORARY JUDGMENTS ABOUT IMPORTANT ENACTMENTS)
    (pp. 227-232)
  15. APPENDIX B SOURCES FOR SWEEP TWO (SPECIALISTS IN POLICY AREAS)
    (pp. 233-240)
  16. APPENDIX C SOURCES FOR SWEEP ONE, 1991–2002
    (pp. 241-244)
  17. APPENDIX D A DEFENSE OF SWEEP TWO
    (pp. 245-252)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 253-267)