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Politics in Question

113 EpisodesProduced by Julia Azari, Lee Drutman, and James WallnerWebsite

A podcast about how our political institutions are failing us and ideas for fixing them. Join hosts Lee Drutman, Julia Azari, and James Wallner, three lively experts on American political institutions and reform, as they imagine and argue over what American politics could look like if citizens quest… read more


How important is expertise and experience in Congress?

On this week’s episode of Politics In Question, Alexander C. Furnas joins Julia, Lee, and James to consider the importance of expertise and experience in making Congress work. Alexander is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center of Science and Innovation at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. He studies the use of information, science, and expertise in policymaking, interest groups, and elite political behavior using survey, text analysis and network methods. Alexander has published articles in the American Political Science Review, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Legislative Studies Quarterly. Most recently, he coauthored “Congressional Brain Drain: Legislative Capacity in the 21st Century” with Timothy M. LaPira.

What role do staff play in making Congress work? Does the ongoing decline in issue-area expertise and experience among staffers explain today’s political dysfunction. Or is the problem a decline in members’ ability to legislate? What reforms can address these issues? These are some of the questions Alexander, Julia, Lee, and James consider on this week’s episode.

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