The Collective Dilemma Through History
DOI link for The Collective Dilemma Through History
The Collective Dilemma Through History book
This chapter analyses the notion that the Congress is a fundamentally different political entity than it was earlier in US history. Despite dramatic changes in the level of institutionalization, size, member professionalism, and electoral structures, members of Congress have always faced the local versus national dilemma, or the tension between constituency representation and lawmaking for the general good. The collective dilemma emerged immediately, as legislators found it close to impossible to suppress constituent interests in the name of the general welfare. The evidence we have offered thus far supports the argument that the collective dilemma has existed throughout congressional history. The main feature shared by Congress and the House of Commons is that members are elected from single-member winner-take-all districts. This ensures that members have at least some tie to local interests, and thus creates the dilemma. The collective dilemma exists in Parliament, which struggles with the need to combine local representation with the collective legislative function.