Congressmen and Their InfluencesThe notion that a Congressman ran for office for unselfish goals and went awayto Washington to serve his country and represent his neighbors seems quaint andluaghable compared to the way that we currently regard members of congress. Recent views have suggested that most people felt that while the institution onthe whole was corrupt, but that their representative was a good person andservant of the electorate. More and more each member is scrutinized and judgedharsher by their constituencies, the media, their own party and the numerousinterest groups and cuacuses that make it possible for them to act as Senatorsand Representatives.
The Congress and President work together through their owninstitutions in the common goal of running the worlds most powerful nation. Thelegilative powers were divided this way to ensure that all new laws would bedebated and decided not by a few but through a heirarchy that gives everycitizen a part to play in our collective decision making. Each of the individuals in the House has an equitable voting relationship withthe others, 1=1=1, when it come to passing legislation, but in the earlierphases of formulating policy some relationships are dominant over others. Theonly ones that would be lower than a freshman Democrat in the 105th Congressfrom a rural, low industry district are probably those that represent ourprotectorates Guam, Puerto Rico, etc.
Many levels within the parties and theinstitution afford some members leadership roles and positions that they can useto sway the other members. The Whips, Majority and Minority leaders and theSpeaker of the House are looking for party cohesion and also bi-partisan supportfor a bill. Coalitions are forged or broken depending on the issue at hand. Individual committee positions are another point were some are more powerfulthan others. The committees are major superintendents of some agencies andmembers not on that particular committee may be ignored or relegated to othertasks while the major decisions are being made.
Since much of policy directionis dominated by the two party system they are able to use the majority selectedrules and procedures of the House to their advantage. In the more collegial andcongenial Senate power is more diffused and shared between the members andminority rights are protected. In the parties the leaders are able to use their personalities and power toinfluence the agenda that is agreed upon. The way the House is run leaves agreat deal of discretion to the leaders of the parties and committee membersregarding which specific measures will be debated and concentrated on.
Thecomeupance of Newt has shown how a member of the House can predominate apolitical agenda th4at has broad support. The boisterous Newt has brought to theHouse a new sense of power and prestige for the Republican party and also to theoffice of Speaker of the House. Newt has lost some of his political steam in themidst of ethics investigations and the friction caused by his abrasivepersonality. Starting the 104th congress as a revolutionary leader bent on asmaller more efficient government his power has been diminished as his corps offreshmen have become increasingly independent. The democrats chipped away at himand his support by casting a shadow over each of the Republicans in the house ascronies of Newt.
During the recent campaigns Newt tried to lay low except for inhis home district as thousands of ads linked the Republicans to Newt. As he hasdown in the last congress he will continue to be a force in the shaping anddirection of any new policies. Since the retirement from the Senate of Bob Dole, Trent Lott has taken overleadership duties for the Republican party in the Senate and has personallybecome more prominent as a Republican player while Newt has been forced todefend his policy agenda and his personal conduct from all sides. As a powerfulpersonality like Gingrich, Lott will have a great influence.
Almost every pieceof legislation is going to have hiss blessing or input within it. Lott hasbrought to the position experience that makes as a good requisite foe the job. He has served in the House as party whip and made many improvements in theposition that he later used as a whip in the Senate. These changes streamlinedmany operations that made party coordination and cohesion easier. Now as SenateMajority Leader he is in a great