The New American Politician: Ambition, Entrepreneurship, and the Changing Face of Political Life

The New American Politician: Ambition, Entrepreneurship, and the Changing Face of Political Life

The New American Politician: Ambition, Entrepreneurship, and the Changing Face of Political Life

The New American Politician: Ambition, Entrepreneurship, and the Changing Face of Political Life

Excerpt

As with many research efforts, this one began by accident. In November 1975, as an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow, I was looking for an office where I could fruitfully spend my fellowship period. I interviewed with a first-term House member, Max Baucus (D-Mont.), and noticed that Paul Simon's (D-Ill.) office was across the hall. I walked in and asked if they might be able to use my services for the next few months. Simon was interested, largely because he was embarking on an effort to draft Hubert Humphrey for president. He needed help, and I was a likely candidate. So, as a Congressional Fellow, I became part of a presidential campaign. When the Humphrey efforts fizzled in June 1976, Congressman Simon graciously allowed me to do some purely scholarly work on the large number of freshmen House members elected in the post-Watergate election of 1974.

Working with the New Members Caucus staff, Professor Jeff Fishel and I conducted a thorough survey of the class, as well as interviewing a considerable number of the freshmen. In 1976, all but two of the class retained their House seats, and it dawned on me that this large class represented a unique opportunity—to study the careers of a generation of politicians. This book is not a complete report on that research project; there may well be a monograph in the future that provides exhaustive detail about career choices over, say, a twenty-year period. Rather, I have used my research on the class of '74 from 1976 through 1987 to provide a base for understanding a new breed . . .

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