The Public Congress
Congressional Deliberation in a New Media Age
Routledge – 2012 – 206 pages
Contemporary members of Congress routinely use the media to advance their professional goals. Today, virtually every aspect of their professional legislative life unfolds in front of cameras and microphones and, increasingly, online. The Public Congress explores how the media moved from being a peripheral to a central force in U.S. congressional politics. The authors show that understanding why this happened allows us to see the constellation of forces that combined over the last fifty years to transform the American political order.
Malecha and Reagan’s keen analysis links the new "public" Congress and the forces that are shaping political parties, the Presidency, interest groups, and the media. They conclude by asking whether the kind of discourse that this "new media" environment fosters encourages Congress to make its distinctive deliberative contribution to the American polity. This text brings historical depth as well as coverage of the most current cutting edge trends in new media environment and provides an exhaustive treatment of how the U.S. Congress uses the media in the governing process today.
"The Public Congress is a fine addition to the literature on Congress. Its attention to the development of congressional communication practices is valuable in itself, but it also offers an informative new perspective on the growth in partisan polarization in Washington. For anyone who wants to understand how Congress reached its current state, this book will be a great place to start."
—Gary Jacobson, University of California San Diego
"This book deals with an important and timely subject—how members of Congress have adapted to changing or new media technologies during the past few decades in their attempt to interact with and represent their constituents. The authors utilize numerous case studies, interviews and other types of evidence to demonstrate how this new ‘public Congress’ has evolved and shaped the strategies for representatives to interact with voters in the modern media age."
—Jamie L. Carson, University of Georgia
"This book provides much needed historical context to help us understand how members of Congress have increasingly turned outward to influence policymaking, and it offers a look at how new media are becoming an important communications tool for congressional members and parties that will contribute much to the discussion of communication in Congress."
—C. Danielle Vinson, Furman University
1. Introduction 2. Let’s Take It Outside: The New Front on the Hill 3. A New Washington Community: The Foundation for Congressional Public Strategies 4. Congressional Responses to Changes: Members Adapt to "Going Outside" 5. The Parties’ Public Relations Response: Marketing the "Brand" 6. Running Public Relations Operations on the Hill: Strategies, Successes and Failures in Message Marketing 7. The President Meets Congress in a New Media World: The Public Relations Battle Over the Stimulus Package 8. Thinking Constitutionally: Challenges of Deliberating While Turned Inside-Out
Gary Lee Malecha is Associate Professor in the department of political science at University of Portland.
Daniel J. Reagan is Associate Professor in the department of political science at Ball State University.