A reality based independent journal of observation & analysis, serving the Flathead Valley & Montana since 2006. © James Conner.

27 September 2017 — 1724 mdt

Jon Tester gets high ranking for legislative effectiveness; &
For profit academic journals are for deep-pocketed elites

First, a journal ripoff. When I visited Vanderbilt University’s Center for Effective Lawmaking to see its effectiveness ratings for members of Congress (Jon Tester is ranked fourth among Senate Democrats; thanks to David Parker for the tip), a 2013 paper in the American Journal of Political Science, When Are Women More Effective Lawmakers Than Men?, looked interesting:

Abstract. Previous scholarship has demonstrated that female lawmakers differ from their male counterparts by engaging more fully in consensus-building activities. We argue that this behavioral difference does not serve women equally well in all institutional settings. Contentious and partisan activities of male lawmakers may help them outperform women when in a polarized majority party. However, in the minority party, while men may choose to obstruct and delay, women continue to strive to build coalitions and bring about new policies. We find strong evidence that minority party women in the U.S. House of Representatives are better able to keep their sponsored bills alive through later stages of the legislative process than are minority party men, across the 93rd–110th Congresses (1973–2008). The opposite is true for majority party women, however, who counterbalance this lack of later success by introducing more legislation. Moreover, while the legislative style of minority party women has served them well consistently across the past four decades, majority party women have become less effective as Congress has become more polarized.

But when I hit the link to the paper, “looks expensive” was added to “looks interesting.”


In this case, PDF means Pricey Damn Footnotes.

Vanderbilt is a private university (Dinah Shore — remember Sweet Violets? — is a famous grad). The research for the paper probably was privately funded, leaving me no complaint that purchasing amounts to paying for it twice as is the case with academic papers produced at public universities. But I will complain about $38 for a PDF. A college football coach can afford that, but this political blogger operates with a considerably smaller budget. It’s possible that Flathead Valley Community College has the journal, and I’m fairly certain that Montana State and the University of Montana do, but I’m not making a special trip to FVCC, or the Flathead County Library, let alone spending twice the price of the PDF to drive to Missoula. I love libraries, but I hate visiting them to obtain what should be available online from my home.

Tester and bipartisanship

The CEM bases its effectiveness rankings partly on the Lugar Center’s bipartisanship index. Tester’s efforts to work with Republicans to pass legislation helping veterans will boost that score.

Most Democrats — especially the touchy-feely caucus, which is huge — love bipartisanship because they consider compromise and working together intrinsic rather than instrumental goods. They love to meet in the middle (“we gain a lot of ground, but we both give a little”), and love even more to wax sanctimonious about it. Tester’s CEM ranking will help his campaign by pleasing his base. Whether it will help him with Republicans, and Republicans masquerading as independents, is problematic. Republicans prefer standing on principle, and define bipartisanship not as meeting in the middle but as Democrats caving-in to the Republican position. They’ll vote for the GOP nominee.

I’m not a touchy-feely Democrat. I’m a hard-ass politico who wants to win, who wants to win big, and who loathes giving a micrometer. I’m voting for Tester, but his constant praise of bipartisanship and working together always leaves me with the uneasy feeling that he's fixing to cave-in to Mitch McConnell.