We Know We Belong to the Land - A Hundred Years of Oklahoma and the Congress
Approaching the Millennium
Congress sought to strengthen its institutional voice in the country’s affairs. Because Congress readily approximates American society where alliances shift as frequently as issues, efforts to find common ground became harder. The age of the member of Congress as political entrepreneur arrived. New efforts at reform and personal ethics combined with attempts to bring the legislative branch into parity with the executive branch. Differing House and Senate views on reform hampered the process, and partisanship sharpened its edge. A Republican prevalence in the White House continued, as did a seemingly permanent Democratic House majority. Popular opinion of Congress declined after the resignation in close succession of the Majority Whip and Speaker of the House and the investigation of a variety of improprieties of members of both parties in both houses. While the public approved of the individual representative or senator, it did not share that regard with the collective Congress. This view—whether exhibiting an inherent American preference for the individual over the group or a more modern trait in our history—represented perhaps the foremost obstacle for Congress.
Mickey Edwards and Dewey Bartlett
Senator Dewey F. Bartlett (right) pins an OKIE pin on Mickey Edwards (R-OK, 1977-1992). One of the leading members of the GOP during his service in the Congress, Edwards espoused the “party line” on defense, the market economy, and culture.  However, he was not the believer in executive power that most conservatives were.  Indeed, it was written shortly before Edwards left Washington that he was “a dissenter among dissenters, with an eye on a future when today’s dissenters may be the majority.” 

 

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