The Most Exclusive Club

This short and well-written book examines the history of the United States Senate, particularly in the twentieth century. The author finds it to be a mostly dysfunctional institution, which has only occasionally had productive or helpful periods of legislating, while for the most part acting as a barrier to reform and a conservative defender of the unrighteous status quo. This is despite its gradual democratization over the years.

The author chronicles the evolution of the Senate from a tight-knit group beholden to the 19th century business bosses to a tight-knit group beholden to special interests and the power of mass media. Particularly disappointing is the awareness that to this day, the Senate, unlike the House of Representatives, reflects little of the diversity of the nation at large. Also of note is the long tradition of alcoholism among our illustrious Senators.

Why did it take a bunch of drunk old white men two hundred years to enact laws that should have self-evidently been incorporated into the nation from the start? Why does the Senate today still seem to be an ineffective body paralyzed by partisanship? Read this book and find out.

Year: 2005
Author: Lewis L. Gould


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