Your task for this paper is to apply what you have learned about Congress to analyze the behavior of a particular member of the House of Representatives, including his or her policy activities, constituency service, and public relations efforts. Your first step will be to choose a member of the House of Representatives (any member is fine; it need not be your representative), and go to http://www.house.gov to locate that representative’s web site. The information provided there, and extra information about the representative and district available through the Almanac of American Politics will provide all of the information you need for the paper. (The Almanac is available on-line from the University of Illinois library—on the Illinois home page, click “Library” and type in “Almanac of American Politics”—you will be taken to a direct link to the National Journal page. Once there, type in the name of the representative of your choice or browse by members or states).
Some questions your paper should address include:
What are some basic background facts about your representative (e.g., What party does the representative belong to? How long has he or she been in office? Did he or she win the last race by a close margin or was it a landslide?) and his or her district (e.g., Is the district urban or rural? Relatively racially/ethnically diverse or homogenous? Rich or poor?, etc.)
On which committees does your representative serve? What sorts of issues does the representative introduce and cosponsor bills and resolutions about? Is there correspondence between committee assignments and the content of his/her activities? Do these assignments and activities seem to match up with issues of particular relevance to the constituency?
Does the Congressperson’s website describe his or her constituency service? How do these activities map on to the general strategies of advertising, position-taking, and credit- claiming?
Your paper should be approximately 2-3 pages, typed and double-spaced, with size 12 font and 1 inch margins. Other than exploring the legislator’s website and the Almanac of American Politics, you are not expected to do outside research. Instead, your grade will be based on the extent to which you demonstrate that you have read and understood the readings and lecture material and that you have put some independent thought into analyzing the behavior of your representative.
This assignment is worth 26 points and will be subjectively hand graded. After the conclusion of this activity, you can expect your instructor to provide your grade and any relevant feedback to you via the Grades area within 3–7 business days. See the Policies page of the Syllabus section for more details.