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Power to the people: Nebraska's Unicameral Legislature and the populist /progressive ideal. A social choice approach

Charlyne Ruth Berens, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation examines the first session of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature, in 1937, to determine whether its structure and rules reflect populism, progressivism or simply a variant of liberal democracy. I use a social choice approach to look at how the Legislature solved the problems of coordination of shared interests, collective action and collective choice. ^ The paper formulates three models of democratic government—liberal democracy, populist and progressive—provides a brief history of each of those approaches and speculates how a legislature in each of those models would solve the three social choice problems. The paper examines the 1937 Unicameral's structure, rules and procedures as described in the 1937 Nebraska Legislative Journal, the papers of men prominent in the formation of the Unicameral and newspapers of the day. ^ I conclude that because of its unicameralism, nonpartisanism, straightforward, open procedures and non-hierarchical rules and structure, the Unicameral most closely resembles the progressive model, particularly as the progressive and populist models share a belief that citizens are capable of and should be involved in governing themselves. ^

Subject Area

Political Science, General

Recommended Citation

Berens, Charlyne Ruth, "Power to the people: Nebraska's Unicameral Legislature and the populist /progressive ideal. A social choice approach" (2000). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9967412.