Here, Katherine Tate examines the significance of race in the U.S. system of representative democracy for African Americans. Presenting important new findings, she offers the first empirical study to take up the question of representation from both sides of the constituent-representative relationship.
The first half of the book examines whether black members of the U.S. House legislate and represent their constituents differently than white members do. Representation is broadly conceptualized to include not only legislators' roll call voting behavior and bill sponsorship, but also the symbolic acts in which they engage. The second half looks at the issue of representation from the perspective of ordinary African Americans based on a landmark national survey.
Tate's findings are mixed. But, in the main, legislators' race does shape how they represent their constituents and how constituents evaluate them. African Americans view black representatives more positively than they do white representatives, even those who belong to their own political party. Black legislators, however, are just as likely as white representatives to sponsor and gain passage of bills in the House. Tate also concludes that black House members are more liberal as a group than are their black constituents, but that there is considerable divergence in the quality and type of representation they provide.
The findings reported here will generate controversy in the fields of politics, law, and race, particularly as debate commences over renewing the Voting Rights Act, which is set to expire in 2007.
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2003 Winner of the Race, Ethnicity, and Public Policy Best Book Award, American Political Science Association Winner of the 2004-2005 V.O. Key Book Award, Southern Political Science Association Co-Winner of the 2005 W.E.B. Du Bois Book Award, National Conference of Black Political Scientists "A thorough, thoughtful, and sophisticated discussion of the evidence... [Tate] has combined theory, hard data, and real-world politics to produce a concise and interesting work on an important issue. This scholarly yet very readable book is a must-read for students of Congress or minority group politics."--Choice "A major contribution to the field of Congressional Studies and black politics."--Lewis A. Randolph, Journal of African American History
List of Figures and Tables viiPreface and Acknowledgments ixI. Introduction 1Chapter 1. The Puzzle of Representation 3II. Black Members of Congress 23Chapter 2. Black Members of Congress 25Chapter 3. The Elections of Blacks to Congress 51III. Representing Black Interests 71Chapter 4. Legislative Styles and Voting Records 73Chapter 5. Symbols and Substance 96IV. The View from Black Constituents 111Chapter 6. Blacks' Evaluations of House Members: Does Race Matter? 113Chapter 7. Descriptive Representation and Black Political Empowerment 132Chapter 8. Descriptive Representation and Trust in Government 143V. Conclusion 153Chapter 9. The Future of Black Faces in the U.S. Congress 155Appendix A. The 1996 National Black Election Study 171Appendix B. List of Black Members of the U.S. Congress 183Notes 197References 199Index 207