The Congress: The Freshman Class That Votes Like a Bloc

At a party caucus just before the opening of the 89th Congress, Ohio's veteran Representative Mike Kirwan had some words of wisdom for freshman Democratic Congressmen. "Just follow the leader," said Kirwan, "and use your franking privilege. It's free."

The freshmen have followed that advice—and, with the exception of seven Southern Congressmen who owe their allegiance elsewhere, their fidelity to the programs of their party leader, Lyndon Johnson, has established them as just about the solidest voting bloc in Congress. The 58 non-Southern-bloc freshman Democrats differ greatly. Oklahoma's Jed Johnson is 25, while Iowa's John Hansen is the oldest at...

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