U.S. History

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How Policies Can Have Unintended Consequences in Washington, D.C.

Excerpted from How Washington Actually Works For Dummies

Even well-intended and well-analyzed policies from Washington, D.C., can bring about unintended consequences. An action meant to bring about one [more…]

How Bills Become Laws in Washington, D.C.

In Washington, D.C., politicians, lobbyists, and other participants understand that the policymaking process is fluid. Political gamesmanship and bargaining may hold up one bill for the sake of another [more…]

How Washington, D.C., Agencies Write Regulations to Support Laws

In Washington, D.C., Congress sets the framework of a broad policy mandate through legislation. Federal agencies then flesh out the policy supporting this mandate through the creation of more detailed [more…]

How PACs and Special Interests Work in Washington, D.C.

The campaign finance game in Washington, D.C., changed dramatically in 2010, when the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, [more…]

How Citizens United Makes Representatives Beholden in Washington, D.C.

Prior to Citizens United, campaign finance reform in Washington, D.C., had built steadily and aggressively from 1971 to 2002. In 1971, the Federal Election Campaign Act required the disclosure of donors’ [more…]

Washington, D.C.: Constitutional Duties of the President of the United States

The President of the United States has specific responsibilities laid out by the U.S. Constitution. In the age of television monitoring, however, the media tends to overemphasize the self-imposed presidential [more…]

The Limitations of the President in Washington, D.C.

Excerpted from How Washington Actually Works For Dummies

Many presidents have come to Washington, D.C., promising to shake up the city and fundamentally change the way it does business. They’re not part [more…]

How the President Uses the Bully Pulpit in Washington, D.C.

Presidents have often tried to find ways to circumvent their policymaking competitors in Washington, D.C., and no method is more conspicuous (and audible) than the presidential bully pulpit [more…]

How the President Uses His Support Team in Washington, D.C.

In addition to the Cabinet and the thousands of political appointments throughout the government in Washington, D.C., the president relies heavily on the White House staff: his inside team of personal [more…]

Does the President Govern from a Bubble in Washington, D.C.?

All rulers risk losing touch with the people they rule, and today’s president in Washington, D.C., protected by a phalanx of Secret Service agents and handpicked supporters at every public event, inevitably [more…]

How Money Influences Campaigning and Policymaking in Washington, D.C.

Running for president of the United States is very expensive — and becoming increasingly so. The Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C., estimated that the 2008 presidential campaigns cost [more…]

How Swing States Gain Disproportionate Power in Washington, D.C.

Most presidential aspirants strive to be elected, and most incumbents already in Washington, D.C., strive to be reelected. Inevitably, the electoral system exercises a strong influence over a presidential [more…]

How Party Politics Influence Elections in Washington, D.C.

U.S. political parties in Washington, D.C., are less hierarchical than parliamentary systems of government and usually have multiple centers of power. For the party in power in a parliamentary system, [more…]

The President’s Typical Day in Washington, D.C.

Excerpted from How Washington Actually Works For Dummies

What does the president do in a typical day in Washington, D.C., — if such a thing exists? These days, you can actually check the president’s official [more…]

How Congress Oversees Policy Implementation in Washington, D.C.

Checks and balances are a core tenet of the U.S. political system in Washington, D.C., written in by the Founding Fathers. The three branches of government check on each other and balance each other so [more…]

How the Interagency Process in Washington, D.C., Works

An example of checks and balances in Washington, D.C., is the way in which the different parts of a single branch of government interact. In the executive branch, agencies that have overlapping jurisdiction [more…]

How Washington, D.C., Insiders Wield Power and Influence

Nobody ever said that Washington, D.C., was a simple place. The diversity of stakeholders involved in the policymaking process, and the innumerable forms of interaction among stakeholders within government [more…]

How to Stay Informed about Policymaking in Washington, D.C.

Before you even consider getting your hands dirty playing the policymaking game in Washington, D.C., it’s important to become knowledgeable about the issues at hand. Your voice will be more respected if [more…]

Run for Congress (or become a Staffer) to Influence Policy in Washington, D.C.

Call it old-fashioned, but if you want to craft policy in Washington, D.C., consider positioning yourself to become a policymaker. Running for office isn’t for the faint of heart [more…]

How to Influence Washington, D.C.: Contact Your Congressperson

You don't have to live in Washington, D.C., to participate in U.S. policymaking. Almost all citizens, no matter where they live, are already represented in the policymaking debate through their local House [more…]

Influence Policy in Washington, D.C.: Get a Federal Government Job

Federal bureaucrats are vital cogs in the policymaking machine in Washington, D.C. They write regulations, enforce the rules, and interact with all manner of public and private sector stakeholders. If [more…]

Influence Policy Washington, D.C.: Join an Interest Group

Perhaps you want to do more in Washington, D.C., than make the occasional congressional cold call, but you aren’t up for devoting your whole life to becoming a Washington insider. That’s where interest [more…]

Influence Policy in Washington, D.C.: Be an Activist for a Day

Getting the attention of policymakers in Washington, D.C., can be difficult, especially when they blow past you in a window-tinted Suburban at 50 miles per hour on a residential street. [more…]

Influence Policy in Washington, D.C.: Be a Lobbyist for a Day

Lobbying in Washington, D.C., isn’t just for the professionals. Anyone can pick up the phone and ask to meet a member of Congress or administration official. [more…]

Influence Policy in Washington, D.C.: Be a Citizen Journalist

Ordinary Americans are playing an increasing role in enhancing political media coverage, which plays a major part in how Washington, D.C., and policymaking function. The easiest way to get started is to [more…]

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