chapter  2
20 Pages

Pursuing Ambition in a Congressional Parties Framework

ByMarian Currinder

This chapter suggests that the redistribution of campaign money is best explained by member ambitions and the structure of opportunities that shape these ambitions. It also argues that in a competitive political environment, the congressional party organizations can orchestrate the political and policy pursuits of their ambitious members. Politics at the intrainstitutional level is treated as a "game of advancement" that manifests itself in what Lawrence Dodd characterizes as a congressional power ladder. The strength that the parties exert over individual party members is influenced by various factors in the political environment. The strength of congressional parties and party leaders in the House depends on a number of factors. The 1970s reforms sought to democratize the House by dispersing power more evenly throughout the chamber. The reforms also strengthened the party leaders, who began to take full advantage of their new powers during the 1980s.