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Pivotal Politics: A Theory of U.S. Lawmaking Paperback – June 22, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0226452722 ISBN-10: 0226452727 Edition: 1st

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Pivotal Politics: A Theory of U.S. Lawmaking + Setting the Agenda: Responsible Party Government in the U.S. House of Representatives + Congress: The Electoral Connection, Second Edition
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 274 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (June 22, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226452727
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226452722
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #921,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
In the news we frequently hear that Washington just doesn't work or that gridlock has taken over the system. In Pivotal Politics: A Theory of U.S. Lawmaking, Krehbiel provides an explanation for why. Basically, certain government institutional features, such as the president's veto and the Senate's filibuster, make it very difficult to change policy. Thus, it is possible to have gridlock even when the same party controls both branches of government.

My two criticisms of the book are as follows. First, the writing is a bit obtuse. I understand this is for an academic audience (I consider myself part of that crowd). However, there are times when Krehbiel uses terms like "changes in gridlock," when it really seems to mean either an increase or decrease. Some of the diagrams aren't well explained and it took me a while to fully understand what was going on. Second, I'm not quite sure how his theory differs from the broader institutional literature on Veto Players.

I do wish this book were more accessible to a wider audience. I think it goes a long way toward moderating the public's expectations with regard to "change".
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17 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
I had very low expectations, to be sure. All said and done, however, this is a v. fine book, considering that my brother-in-law wrote it.
But, really now. Even as a total non-scientist I actually did find the book (o-k, the parts I read) interesting and informative. And even though I of necessity skipped right past the math and grids and charts and doodles and stuff, the substance made sense because of "the author's" down-to-earth narrative style. (I suppose it may also have helped that he explained the whole theory, or as much as he thought his brother and I could grasp, over beers one night. Be that as it may.) I, under no threats or inducements, sincerely recommend this book to anyone interested in looking beyond the common assumption that Party X in the White House and Party Y controlling Congress ("divided government" I recall to be the super-duper scientific term) is likely to result in the dreaded Gridlock. Or the gridded Dreadlocks. Music Up: "It Ain't Necessarily So...."
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