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Why would this be? For one thing, there’s not much immediate political benefit to examining the far horizon for approaching storms. Members of Congress are quite attuned to the immediate concerns of their constituents; anyone who spent too much of his time investigating hunger in Africa would no doubt hear about it at the next round of town hall meetings. Then, too, the close partisan divide within the country as a whole has made it difficult for Congress to move forward even on the issues it does address. The result is that members are under great pressure to focus on issues that have immediate resonance with voters- “partial-birth” abortions, say, or a flag-burning amendment to the Constitution- that might give their side some advantage at the polls. There is much truth in the observation that Congress cannot look beyond the next election. This is one of the fundamental weaknesses of the institution.
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