Is Our Congress Bad ?
Twenty-five years ago, Richard F. Fenno, Jr. said that people love their members of Congress but hate the Congress, but at the end of the 1990s, Fenno might be wrong because of some potential problems for the members of Congress and the Congress. People do not love their members of Congress at all because the members of Congress do not know what people really want and also public lack of information about what they do by the modern mass media at the end of 1990s. Another potential problem is that people still are not always satisfied with the length of time involved in passing a law at the Congress. To compound the problems, members of Congress tend to define their job in terms much different from those of general public and so people today dislike both the members of Congress and the Congress.
Representation was a key issue when the house and Senate were being designed. However, the members of Congress do not know what people want and the point is often made that Congress is not truly a representative body, as it members are usually order, richer and better educated than the average American. Clearly, the members of Congress do not represent women, minority groups, and the young in anything like their proportions of the population. "More than half the nations population are women, but the 102nd Congress had only thirty one women members." (New York Time, 1997) The members of Congress must strive to understand and represent the needs of the people. They cannot ignore the disadvantage groups that feel unrepresented in the system. Americans start to lose faith in their members of Congress when people feel that their representative can no longer "represent" them in the Congress. A representative should be a reasonable facsimile of those whom he or she represents; in another, a representative acts as an "agent", just s an attorney represents a client. Thus, in the end of 1990s, not all Americans feel that they are equally represented.
"Mass Media specifically refer to those publications and programs that attempt to serve most or all of the people in a given market." (The Pursuit of Happiness, Macmillan) Studies show the over half the population depends on mass media, particularly the electronic media, for information about the world in which they live. (The Roper Organization, 1973) For many Americans, TV and radio news broadcasts, with perhaps an occasional glance at the day's headlines in the newspapers, represent the only source of information and opinion about the government and its leaders. However, public always lack of information about what the members of Congress do, from inaccurate information about congressional perquisites, and from the negative stories from the mass media. Because of some negative stories from the mass media, people are absorbing the inaccurate information about the members of Congress and therefore people dislike them based on that inaccurate information. "The power to decide what is mass media is the power to define reality for many people." (Macmillan) Thus, if the public knew about the some facts, people would be much more supportive of the members of Congress.
The main point of people still do not love Congress is people see Congress spending too much time talking and not enough time doing. Many as the largest branch in government view the Congress of the United States. The power to make laws was given to Congress by our forefathers when they constructed our constitution. Passing laws is very important to people because without them people would be living in chaos. Of course, all the laws are not perfect but for the most part the Congress does a good job at keeping this country under control. The problems with lawmaking that most people see is the time involved in getting a law passed. In order for a bill to become a law it must first be "introduced to the House or Senate, or both, then referred to a committee." (Macmillan) This can be a very time consuming process. Anyone interested in having a law passed must realize the process involved and be patient. In addition to lawmaking Congress is also involved in passing amendments. The nation has been able to grow and strengthen due to the amendment process. In order for the government to keep up with the changing times it is crucial that people make adjustments to the constitution. The downfall is that the amendments passed have not always kept up with changing times. Arguments against Congress would be that they taken to long in enforcing the amendments. "In the eyes of people, Congress's power actually keeps thing from getting done." (Congress Reconsidered, Davidson) Therefore, it is slow to process a law for people and that is why people still do not like the Congress in the end of 1990s.
The 1990s have not been a time of public satisfaction with politics. People may not love their members of Congress because people feel that their representative can no longer "represent" them, and also there is some inaccurate information about their representative from mass media. However, people still hate the Congress because Congress still spends too much time talk and not enough time to do then. Public think that Congress should be a powerful institution, but laws take time to create and policies take time to be implemented. Over all Congress does a good job with the roles and duties it is given. When it comes to representation, the vote lies in people's hands. People have the power to vote for who people want to represent them. People can make a difference if we get involved in electing those who share the same ideas of the representative.