What is the nature of representation? Why do some legislators seem to pursue their own policy agenda and others only vote for the wishes of a majority in their district? Eric M. Uslaner sheds new light on this important debate, demonstrating that current notions of representation are too narrow and that members of Congress do both pursue a policy agenda and represent their constituents's interests.
Uslaner argues that most representatives do not have to choose between following their ideals or constituency preferences, because voters usually elect public officials who are in tune with their beliefs. And because the constituency is a complex organization of sub-groups--some of which are more critical to achieving re-election than others--the legis-lator is able to form alliances with those who support the legislator's policy preferences. The views of these groups within the constituence become the views to which the legislator pays most attention. In short, the author argues, politics are both local and ideological.
Uslaner explores the intersection of a legislator ideology and the preferences of various constituencies. In looking at how they interact and how representation affects reelection, the book sheds new light on the place of ideology in American politics.
This book will be of interest to those concerned with representation in all legislative bodies, including political scientists and historians.
Eric M. Uslaner is Professor of Government, University of Maryland. He is the author of The Decline of Comity in Congress.