Tutor profile: Joyanna H.
Subject: US Government and Politics
What explains the actions of members of Congress?
According to David Mayhew, members of Congress are "single-minded seekers of reelection," meaning that they prioritize reelection above anything else. This does not mean that members of Congress only care about reelection, but since their jobs are up for grabs every few years they have to keep their job in order to accomplish anything else. Thus, members generally behave with that motivation in mind. This affects the kinds of policies they choose to sponsor and support, the time they spend raising money, and how much time they spend in their home districts, instead of in D.C..
Subject: Political Science
What is elite theory, and how might it explain the kind of policies we create?
Elite theory is a theory that states that policies will be created with the wants and needs of elite populations in mind. "Elite populations" generally means different things to different people, but, in general, we can think of those who hold the most power, such as the educated and the wealthy. Elites have the ability to access policymakers, the resources to make their preferences known, and the knowledge to understand a complex policymaking process. This means that their preferences are likely to be overrepresented in the policies that make it through. For example, taxation policies often include tax breaks for things like mortgages and charitable donations--issues that would concern only those with disposable income.
What are some of the pros and cons of a federalist system?
Federalist systems, like those in the United States, allow for sub-national governments to experiment with policies on smaller portions of the population. This allows for other states/provinces and the national government to learn from those "policy laboratories" and prevents a number of problematic policies from being implemented on the entire population of a country. In addition to encouraging this kind of innovation, federalism also allows states/provinces to create and implement the kind of policies that best fit the challenges and preferences of their communities. Unfortunately, though, these differences in policies may also lead to inequalities between communities. These may be hard to overcome, especially for those citizens who may not have the ability to move from one community to another to pursue a more preferable policy.
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