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Book Review on Esteemed Colleagues for POLSC252

Book Review on Esteemed Colleagues for POLSC252

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Published by Gayle Amul
A Review of Esteemed Colleagues: Civility and Deliberation in the U.S. Senate by Burdett A. Loomis (Editor)
A Review of Esteemed Colleagues: Civility and Deliberation in the U.S. Senate by Burdett A. Loomis (Editor)

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Published by: Gayle Amul on Aug 23, 2010
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08/22/2010

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 A Review of 
 Esteemed Colleagues:Civility and Deliberation in the U.S. Senate
byBurdett A. Loomis(Editor)Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press2000. 273 pages.Reviewed by:Gianna Gayle H. Amul2003-46431MA Political SciencePolitical Science 252Dr. Olivia C. CaoiliUniversity of the Philippines, DilimanAugust 9, 2007
 
1
The United States Senate considered the “living symbol of 
(their) union of states (USSenate Website, 2007, www.senate.gov)
remains an interesting topic for political scientists,because it remains an active assembly that legislates autonomously (Hague and Harrop, 2004:266). It is argued however that assemblies as institutions are in decline and their functions andpurpose have shifted. These were
attributed to the “emergence of disciplined political parties, the
growth of 
big
government, the organizational weaknesses of assemblies and the rise of interestgroup and media power (Heywood, 2002: 328-329)
.”
 Through a cooperative and collaborative endeavor of leading American congressionalscholars, the book 
 Esteemed Colleagues: Civility and Deliberation in the U.S. Senate
not onlyexplored the United States Senate (Senate, hereafter) as an understudied
but 
prestigiousinstitution but also addressed the issue of the decline of civility and the politics of deliberation inthe contemporary United States Senate.In the first part of the book, Baker and Uslaner surveyed the issue of civility in thecontemporary Senate. In terms of civility, they described the U.S. Senate as: 1) a legislative
 body whose members‟ relationships are characterized by “institutional kinship
(15-
16)” that
eventually led to what Baker, an active scholar, journalist and adviser to Senators in the pastthree decades,
calls “constitutional cohabitation”; 2) the more “civil” deliberative legislative
body compared to the United States House of Representatives (32). Baker (24-25) defined the
“etiquette of institutional kinship” as follows: 1) “taking no active role in a primary election
 against a colleague; 2) coordinating fund-raising activities so that they do not conflict with thoseof the colleagues facing the closest reelection contest; 3) agreeing, either formally or informally,on the announcement of federal projects beneficial to the state; 4) agreeing, either by active
coordination or acquiescence on patronage nominations and; 5) giving cues on issues and votes.”
 
 
2Uslaner (33), who has taught and written comprehensively about Congress, trust and corruptionfor three decades now, attributes
the Senate‟s
 
civility to the “long standing tradition of courtesy,
the bipartisan friendships that permit senators to reach agreement even in the face of policydisagreement, to the six-year term that gives senators more freedom to repel outsiders whowould push them to the extremes and to a simple fear of replicating the contentiousness of the
House debate.”
 It is important, however, to note that in their investigation, there are signs of a decline in
civility in the Senate due to the “collapse
of the congressional party system and the increasedpolarization between Republicans and Democrats (42-43
)” as well as the “fading sense of trust…and weakening of the center 
in American electoral politics.In the second part of the book, Sinclair, Evans and Oleszek, and Gamm and Smith
examined the Senate as a “deliberative institution (57).” Sinclair 
(59), author of the award-winning
Transformation of the U.S. Senate
(1990)
 
explored the intricacies of the “individualism, partisanship and cooperation” in th
e Senate. She posited that the legislative body in question is
an “individualist Senate (59)” because “individual senators exercise a great deal more discretion
about when and under what conditions to participate on the party team than House members do(and) they have available attractive alternative channels for participation and they pay little price
when they go off on their own (64).” Sinclair also argued that the elevated level of partisanshiphas “transformed the preferred Senate leadership style from
that of solo operator to majority
leader as head of a party team (64).” She emphasized the role of the party leader in “maintainingthe necessary cooperation (74)” to the extent that “the climate of restraint andcooperation…becomes a collective good (73).”

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