Upon their arrival in Washington D.C., every member of the “freshman class” received a tote bag sporting a picture of the capitol building that contained a three-hundred-plus page document called the 2004 House Manual: New Member Orientation, 109th Congress. This mind-numbing guide details the kinds of expenditures members can and can’t be reimbursed for, the kinds of mailings that can and can’t be paid for with taxpayer money, the use of various types of office equipment, a section on house rules, and even some rules for ethics. Mr. Schwarz goes to Washington. Enjoy orientation!
In this brief, engaging case study, Edward I. Sidlow tells the story of what it takes to make the challenging transition from candidate to newly minted member of Congress. Following the triumphs and trials of candidate and then freshman congressman Joe Schwarz, a moderate Republican from Michigan’s 7th district, Sidlow gives students an inside look at Schwarz as he sets up shop on the Hill, gets familiar with the political environment, becomes involved in various policy areas, jockeys for choice committee assignments, develops a “style” that allows him to communicate effectively with other members while staying in touch with constituents at home, and a host of other issues that are central to legislative life. Sidlow uses an appealing first-hand reportorial and narrative style to describe events, while effortlessly incorporating data and information on specific topics from the current literature so that students can see how Schwarz’s experience compares with others. With photos and other illustrations from the Schwarz team, Sidlow brings the congressional experience to life.