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Candidates, Congress, and the American Democracy

Linda L. Fowler

Publication Year: 1993

In Candidates, Congress, and the American Democracy Linda L. Fowler provides a wide-ranging examination of candidacy as a source of both stability and change in U.S. politics. An expert on political candidates, she brings a novel perspective to the topic by emphasizing that candidates are necessary instruments for popular control of government. Fowler maintains that the ambitions of individual candidates are essential to the functioning of the nation's constitutional system and are important factors in its political history. She traces the influence of candidates in fostering electoral competition, promoting the representation of such newly mobilized groups of citizens as women and ethnic minorities, and transforming political institutions and parties. Despite the importance of candidacy, the institution is poorly understood because both scholars and voters tend to limit their focus on candidates to the narrow context of election campaigns. The author argues that a broader view reveals how candidates are linked to a variety of trends and contradictions in contemporary U.S. politics.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Series: Analytical Perspectives on Politics


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Title Page, Copyright, List of Related Titles

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pp. i-iv

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pp. v-viii

A decade ago, Donald Matthews (1983) began his exhaustive review of the legislative recruitment literature on a gloomy note. Scholars, he charged, had tended to assume that who lawmakers were and how they got to the legislature were important without subjecting that assumption to rigorous testing. They had developed a wealth of descriptive...


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p. ix

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1 Introduction

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pp. 1-17

In November 1986, voters in Mississippi's Second Congressional District narrowly elected Democrat Mike Espy as their U.S. Representative. The first black member of Congress from the state since Reconstruction and one of only six successful challengers in the general election, Espy reversed a century of white supremacy in the Mississippi...

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2 Candidacy and the American Political Tradition

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pp. 19-39

In mass democracies, candidates are indispensable links between citizens and their government. By organizing competition for power, they ensure that regimes operate with popular support. By articulating a platform, they provide outlets for dissent. By identifying unmet needs, they prod political institutions to innovate. It is hard to imagine...

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3 Theories of Candidacy

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pp. 41-71

If congressional candidates stand at the confluence of the broad political trends noted in the previous chapter, it remains to be seen how they act as causal agents in the American polity. In some respects, candidates seem to drive the electoral and institutional changes that have occurred in Congress over many generations; in other respects, they...

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4 Candidates and Congressional Elections

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pp. 73-119

By constitutional design and long practice, congressional elections have allowed the public to vent its feelings about the national government. Every two years, voters can use House and Senate elections as a referendum on the president's performance, the health of the economy, or the general state of the union, and they have availed themselves...

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5 Candidates and Representation

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pp. 121-151

Wherever there is representative democracy, there is potential for distorting the popular will. Bias comes not just from the delegation of authority or the process of collective deliberation, but also from the means of designating lawmakers. This was why early republics chose legislators by lot and why even today the principle of random selection...

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6 Candidates and Organizational Change

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pp. 153-178

One of the enduring features of the U.S. Congress is its capacity to adapt internally to new political trends while retaining substantial continuity with the past. A dynamic institution, Congress is constantly in a state of flux, even though at any given time it may seem firmly wedded to the status quo.1 This mix of rejuvenation and reaction...

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7 Conclusion

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pp. 179-187

Candidates are responsible for much of the continuity and dynamism in American politics. They energize electoral competition and articulate policy conflicts. They reflect dominant cleavages in the society and give voice to newly emergent partisan alignments and social groups. They mediate demands on institutions from the external political...


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pp. 189-211


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pp. 213-228

E-ISBN-13: 9780472022618
E-ISBN-10: 047202261X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472064731
Print-ISBN-10: 0472064738

Page Count: 240
Illustrations: numerous tables, figures
Publication Year: 1993

Series Title: Analytical Perspectives on Politics
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OCLC Number: 646069082
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Candidates, Congress, and the American Democracy

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Political participation -- United States.
  • Politics, Practical -- United States.
  • Political campaigns -- United States.
  • Political culture -- United States.
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