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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter January 3, 2011

On Being Second: The U. S. Senate in the Separated System

  • Charles O. Jones
From the journal The Forum

Periods of split-party control and narrow margin politics encourage criticism of the separated system, accompanied by proposals for reform and change. The U.S. Senate is notably exposed under these conditions for the very reasons it was created. This essay revisits that rationale, concentrating on its institutional role as a second chamber and its operational style of individualism. Attention is directed first to the marginally democratic status of the body, then to the chamber’s individualist roots as nurtured by the three classes formed for staggering senatorial selection. Working within its own political and electoral rhythms, the Senate operates as an elite society of singles. Functioning on independent meridians, this exceptional second chamber resists reform and challenges prophecy, very much as intended. Like it or not, it is there.

Published Online: 2011-1-3

©2011 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston

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