Writings

Writings Online Resources
  U.S. Senate
Library of Congress
Thomas (legislative information)
Congressional Research Service Reports
Congressional Budget Office
GovTrack
2012 Republican party platform
2012 Democratic party platform

The selected writings below are considered highly useful in understanding the U.S. Senate in its operations,  and in its relation to the U.S. Government.  There is a vast amount of information that has been written about our governmental system,  its foundations,  subsequent modifications,  and problems.  However,  many of these writings are peripheral to our focus.  The writings listed below are central to our understanding.

What is our focus?
We cannot know everything which seems pertinent to our intent,  including the history of the U.S. Senate.  Moreover,  it is easy to become side-tracked from our focus,  since much of this history is quite interesting,  and seems valuable.  And it may be hard to separate problem symptoms from problem sources.  As much as possible,  we want to remain focused on the sources,  the real causes of the problems,  and deal with those which can be changed.  In the course of our analysis, we want to learn specific things.

What do we want to learn? Given the above knowledge,  we will be better prepared to identify current problems,  and better able to separate symptoms from causes of problems in Senate operations.

Of what value is a simulation?
Our use of the Senate Simulation,  with its several different possible legislative bill topics,  should help us to think about the effect of possible changes to the system.  The present simulation was not designed to do 'what-if' analysis,  which would allow for changes in the structure before running a simulation session.  However,  as the current simulation is an attempt to represent the actual Senate proceedings,  and as the legislative bill options are either currently being considered,  or have recently been considered by the Senate,  perhaps we can reasonably imagine consequences of changes.

Unintended consequences of changes are forever the enemy,  but improvement is unlikely without attempts at it.  Experiments will surely be necessary.  Consequently,  we will try to become aware of attempts by U.S. states and by other democracies and republics to effect relevant improvements in their legislative processes,  and to learn from their efforts.

Selected Writings          (to top)

The Federalist Papers,  collected essays by Alexander Hamilton,  James Madison,  and John Jay.  Essays written in 1787-88.  483 pages  (Bantam Books edition).
This collection remains important partly because the essays  (all published under the pseudonym 'Publius')  were written to explain and promote the proposed new Constitution;  to replace the existing Articles of Confederation  (written and adopted during the Revoluitionary War).  As such,  the essays reveal much of the founders' reasoning for the basic government structure we have today.  Additionally,  they reveal that these authors were uncommonly bright and  'well-read'  people;  their writings concerning: help us, over 200 years later,  to understand and to evaluate the effectiveness of our existing government.

A note Though Alexander Hamilton wrote most of the essays in the Federalist Papers collection,  and was deeply concerned that the new Constituion be adopted,  he was so unhappy with the proceedings during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia that he left,  and never returned until the proposed Constitution was completed.

The Anti-Federalist Papers,  edited by Ralph Ketchum. 406 pages  (Signet Classic Edition).
Though this book is not as well-known as The Federalist Papers,  it provides an excellent collection of letters, essays,  etc. current to the time of the writing of the U.S. Consititution.  These writers also wrote under pseudonyms, such as  'The Federal Farmer',  John DeWitt,  Cato,  and Brutus.  In addition to anti-Federalist writings,  the book contains speeches by Benjamin Franklin and Patrick Henry,  and much,  much more of high value to understanding the arguments concerning government structure.

In general,  writers/thinkers known as  'Federalists'  favored a strong central government,  assigning power to it previously held by the states  (former colonies).  Writers/thinkers known as  'Anti-Federalists'  were especially concerned that the new central government be as limited in power and scope as feasible.


Miracle in Philadelphia,  Catherine Drinker Bowen,  1966.  310 pages.
Arguably one of the best medium-length histories of the writing of the U.S. Constitution during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia.  Particularly impressive is the comparison between the submitted proposals at the beginning of the convention,  and the final document.

The resulting proposed Constitution involved months of argument,  listening,  and compromise in a hot,  un-conditioned building in summer.  The author makes clear both the patience of listening,  and the passion of differing beliefs as the members struggled to develop an operational document for the new nation  and succeeded.  She lays out for us a prime example of successful collaboration among differing dedicated,  intelligent persons.


Senate Procedure And Practice,  Martin B. Gold (2nd Edition),  2008.  278 pages.         (to top)
This book is not really a pleasant nor an easy read,  but includes information relevant to understanding  (discussion of the functioning Senate Rules and Procedures)  how a body of representatives  can meet regularly,  be seemingly well organized,  and yet fail to deal satisfactorily with the legislative needs of their country.

Books by Barbara Sinclair,  Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of California at Los Angeles.         (to top)
Professor Sinclair's books provide a rigorous academic analysis of changes in the United States Legislature during the period from the 1950's to the present  (Circa 2013). Her analysis provides a basis (with metrics) for understanding changes in senator behavior and possibly using that basis for predicting senators' behavior given theoretical changes in rules and Procedures.  She provides metrics of Senate behavior for different time periods,  and makes some comparisons of this behavior relative to expectations from formal game theory  (see Robert Axelrod's The Evolution of Cooperation).  Sinclair's writings are also not easy reading,  but thorough,  and possibly provide the foundation for logical changes in Senate Rules and Procedures.
The American Senate:  An Insider's History,  Neil MacNeil and Richard A. Baker,  2013.  455 pages.
An excellent,  readable history of the U.S. Senate,  including the impact of individual personalities on the functioning of the Senate,  both senators and presidents.  It documents changes in rules and procedures,  and the circumstances surrounding these changes.  Also,  the author addresses widely recognized problems such as money and politics,  the search for individual power,  and the election of mediocre Senate leaders,  etc.  An excellent,  quite thorough book on the U.S. Senate to date.

American National Government;  Institutions,  Policy,  and Participation,  Robert S. Ross (3rd Edition),  1993.  477 pages + the Constitution.
An exceptional book for understanding the U.S. national/federal government.  Easy to read,  to understand,  and is comprehensive.  One may think she/he has considerable understanding of our government,  until reading this one.

This 3rd Edition book is a university-level text Dr. Ross used in his classes while serving as head of the Political Science Department at Chico State University in California.  Good instructors use feedback from students,  both direct and via testing,  to modify instruction methods and materials.  This process can lead to excellent learning material,  which is the case in this book.  Useful for both reference and for basic understanding.