Beyond Ideology

Politics, Principles, and Partisanship in the U.S. Senate

By Frances E. Lee
University of Chicago Press, Hardcover, 9780226470740, 250pp.

Publication Date: December 2009

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The congressional agenda, Frances Lee contends, includes many issues about which liberals and conservatives generally agree. Even over these matters, though, Democratic and Republican senators tend to fight with each other. What explains this discord? "Beyond Ideology" argues that many partisan battles are rooted in competition for power rather than disagreement over the rightful role of government.

The first book to systematically distinguish Senate disputes centering on ideological questions from the large proportion of them that do not, this volume foregrounds the role of power struggle in partisan conflict. Presidential leadership, for example, inherently polarizes legislators who can influence public opinion of the president and his party by how they handle his agenda. Senators also exploit good government measures and floor debate to embarrass opponents and burnish their own party's image even when the issues involved are broadly supported or low-stakes. Moreover, Lee contends, the congressional agenda itself amplifies conflict by increasingly focusing on issues that reliably differentiate the parties. With the new president pledging to stem the tide of partisan polarization, "Beyond Ideology" provides a timely taxonomy of exactly what stands in his way.

About the Author
Frances E. Lee is professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland. She is author of "Beyond Ideology: Politics, Principles and Partisanship in the U.S. Senate" (2009) and coauthor of "Sizing Up The Senate: The Unequal Consequences of Equal Representation" (1999). Her work has received national recognition, including the Richard F. Fenno, Jr. Prize for the best book in legislative politics in 2010, and the D. B. Hardeman Prize for the best book on a congressional topic in both 1999 and 2011. Her articles have appeared in "American Political Science Review", "Journal of Politics", "Legislative Studies Quarterly", "American Journal of Political Science", among others.

Praise For Beyond Ideology

"[Lee] forcefully and convincingly argues that most partisan battles, at least in the Senate, are rooted in competition for collective partisan institutional advantage as well as individual power within that institution. Thus, it is not surprising that senators often sponsor measures and/or engage in floor debates to embarrass their opponents and enhance their own party images. Here is strong evidence that certainly the Senate—and most likely the House as well—are failed institutions and out of control."—Choice

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