David Eugene Price, "The Congressional Experience: An Institution Transformed" (Routledge, 2020)

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With years of experience as the Representative of the Fourth District in North Carolina, as an educator, a writer, and a political scientist, David Price examines the last 45 years of politics in the United States Congress, in North Carolina, and in his life as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Representative Price currently serves as Chairman of the House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, and he is also the Chair of the House Democracy Partnership, which we discuss during the podcast interview. The Congressional Experience begins with Price’s personal anecdote of the progression of his career as a politician so as to provide a fuller look into the life of a member of Congress. Following the subtitle of the book, “an institution transformed,” Price opens the conversation about how the U.S. Congress has developed over time, through the Cold War, the economic successes of the 1990’s, international terrorism, recession, the Obama and Trump administrations, and through a global pandemic. Price also brings into focus the changes in the ways that Congress functions because of the increased political polarization in the United States.

The Congressional Experience: An Institution Transformed (Routledge, 2020) outlines the complex issues that the U.S. Congress, and the American government in general, regularly faces, in both the domestic and the international sphere. But Price’s approach to explaining these policy processes and complexities is through an intimate picture of how Congress works. Price unpacks the political polarization between executive and legislative government—especially during periods of divided government, and how that has drastically changed citizens’ opinion of the U.S. governmental system from admiration to contempt. In his efforts as a member of Congress, as a representative of the people in North Carolina’s 4th District, and as a political scientist, Price works to alter the perceptions of government in The Congressional Experience. His hope is that readers will have a better understanding of the fundamentals of government, the way that the institutions function, and how those who are elected to public office work within these political institutions. Given the shifts over the years, members have become more entrepreneurial, pursuing different goals and outcomes, some tied to the original roles and responsibilities of elected office holders, others tied to opportunities that might be pursued after leaving public office. Price stresses the need for citizens to understand how political institutions were designed to work, and to hold their elected official responsible for making decisions on their behalf while in Washington, D.C. This is a truly fascinating textbook about the U.S. Congress, since it weaves together Price’s decades of experiences in the U.S. House, as well as his expertise not only as a member of the House, but also as a political scientist. The Congressional Experience: An Institution Transformed provides a unique perspective on the U.S. Congress, especially during this period of institutional transition while also magnifying the importance of local government.

Shaina Boldt assisted with the production of this podcast.

Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015). Email her comments at lgoren@carrollu.edu or tweet to @gorenlj.

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