HOW WE CHOOSE A CONGRESS by Wayne Coffey

HOW WE CHOOSE A CONGRESS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Superficial in content and patronizing in tone, this look at congressional selection will be of little value to any but the least sophisticated youngsters--and they deserve better. AP reporter Coffey first describes the sniping between Federalists and anti-Federalists at the Constitutional Convention (""these groups ultimately became our nation's first political parties,"" he says glibly) and explains the election apparatus that resulted. He then covers House races: where candidates come from (""there is no direct breeding ground""); why they run (prestige, etc.); primaries (one-party or multi-party districts); incumbency; fund-raising; endorsements; Election Day. Next, in an almost identical section, Coffey explores Senate races, highlighting cosmetic differences between Senate and House candidates--the former usually have more experience in public life--but otherwise rehashing the same material with the much-repeated phrase, ""Just like candidates for the House. . . ."" An examination of life on Capitol Hill includes ""folkways"" (apprenticeship, protocol, etc.); the congressional leadership; committees (""because there are more congressmen than committees and subcommittees, members are assigned to more than one""--whatever that means); and the legislative process. After a final plea to get out and vote, Coffey offers sample letters to Congress, a current roster, and the text of the Constitution. Elementary and bare-boned.

Pub Date: June 27th, 1980
Publisher: St. Martin's