Want to know how the U.S. Senate works? I know! I know! Some will claim it doesn't work, and often it seems that way.
“The U.S. Senate” (Thomas Dunne Books, $19.99) offers a concise look at that body and its functions. Written by former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle with Charles Robbins, a journalist and novelist, the 244-page book covers all bases in understanding the rules and traditions of the 100-person august group.
Today, questions often arise as to why the Senate is deadlocked and riddled with partisanship. Daschle cites times when members of each party cooperated more and often formed firm friendships.
Even the modern airplane gets part blame. Senators often fly to their home states every weekend and have fewer social events in Washington.
Another factor is the high cost of waging re-election campaigns. It is said senators often spend almost all of the last two years of a term raising money, which is more vital than ever since corporations are now allowed to contribute.
When did everything change? Daschle said one reason for the escalation of government distrust was that President Ronald Reagan waged a long campaign before his 1980 election, telling the public that government was the cause of national problems and not the solution. Blame-placing seemed to become a sport.
The easy-to-read book came along at a time when needed most. Part of the Fundamentals of American Government series, it fills a gap in understanding civics.
— Dennie Hall