Cornell University Members of Congress Essay

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  1. What are the varying goals that shape the behavior of members of Congress? How does the incentive for reelection shape their behavior? How can it lead them to be both individually responsive but collectively irresponsible? 
  2. How does Congress organize itself? Make sure and discuss the three different organizational systems we discuss, noting the purpose of each and discussing how well it fulfills its goals. How do the parties use these structures to their advantage? In your opinion, do parties exert too weak or too strong of an influence on Congress? Why?
  3. What are the most important factors that contributed to the rise of presidential power in modern American Government? Discuss each in depth and highlight why/how they contributed to the rise of presidential power, and make sure and discuss the constitutional origins of this expansion. In your opinion, do you view the expansion of the executive as a positive development? Why or why not?
  4. Neustadt & Kernell both describe ways in which a President can deal with Congress & others outside of the executive branch. What are their central arguments? How does Kernell’s theory update Neustadt’s idea? Are they compatible? When do these strategies succeed? When do they fail?
  5. Who controls the bureaucracy? How do they do so?  How does this competition affect the bureaucracy? Why and when do elected officials delegate power to the bureaucracy?
  6. How are federal judges chosen for the job? How does this process of selection affect their incentives or strategy while serving on the court? How do federal judges decide cases? Highlight several types of factors that contribute to their rulings and what cases they decide to hear.
  7. Hamilton states “It proves incontestably, that the judiciary is beyond comparison the weakest of the three departments of power.” Why are the courts often considered the weakest branch? Do you agree? Why or why not? Make sure and discuss how judicial review arises, and how judicial review might change Hamilton’s argument. Why might it do so?