Observability and Reasoned Discourse: Evidence from the U.S. Senate
39 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2020 Last revised: 28 Mar 2023
Date Written: January 23, 2023
Many institutions depend on reasoned discourse to reach decisions, but the degree to which debates are publicly observable varies. We examine reasoned discourse in the U.S. Senate, and study how increasing transparency through the introduction of C-SPAN changed leg- islative discourse. We find that the introduction of C-SPAN encouraged members to herd with co-partisans and to anti-herd with cross-partisans; it also appears to have led to the restructuring of Senate time to facilitate performative speech. Suggesting the information problems and career incentives at play, these effects are strongest for those closest to an election and for those with less sophisticated constituencies.
JEL Classification: D72, H11, J22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation