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At a moment when Congress is viewed by a skeptical public as hyper-partisan and dysfunctional, Richard Fenno provides a variegated picture of American representational politics. The Challenge of Congressional Representation offers an up-close-and-personal look at the complex relationship between members of Congress and their constituents back home.
However much politicians are demeaned and denounced in modern American society, our democracy could not work without them. For this reason, says Richard Fenno, their activities warrant our attention. In his pioneering book, Home Style, Fenno demonstrated that a close look at politicians at work in their districts can tell us a great deal about the process of representation. Here, Fenno employs a similarly revealing grassroots approach to explore how patterns of representation have changed in recent decades.Fenno focuses on two members of the U.S. House of Representatives who represented the same west-central Georgia district at different times: Jack Flynt, who served from the 1950s to the 1970s, and Mac Collins, who has held the seat in the 1990s. His on-the-scene observation of their differing representational styles--Flynt focuses on people, Collins on policy--reveals the ways in which social and demographic changes inspire shifts in representational strategies. More than a study of representational change in one district, Congress at the Grassroots also helps illuminate the larger subject of political change in the South and in the nation as a whole.
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