Chapter

United States: A Political Class of Entrepreneurs

Jens Borchert and Gary Copeland

in The Political Class in Advanced Democracies

Published in print December 2003 | ISBN: 9780199260362
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191601873 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199260362.003.0021
 United States: A Political Class of Entrepreneurs

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American politicians have about the greatest choice in terms of the electoral offices they want to pursue. However, only a minority of these numerous offices is professionalized. Moreover, while partisan coordination of political careers was true in the second half of the nineteenth century, it no longer is. Today American politicians largely are political entrepreneurs running their own political careers with the help of other professions that have developed around professional politics and of interest groups, which collect and donate most of the money needed for electoral campaigns. The most highly prized office is that of a member of Congress. Professional politicians in the United States, hence, are mostly professional legislators. It is here that long careers can be realized whereas executive terms tend to be rather short. Changes in the situation of politicians occur most frequently as an often- unintended result of institutional reform, which has been high on the agenda for quite some time.

Keywords: Congress; electoral offices; political action committees; political careers; political class; political entrepreneurs; professional legislators; reform debates; remuneration; United States; weakness of parties

Chapter.  11246 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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