in isolation from the intergovernmental system. On this score, Deil S. Wright, a leading and longtime scholar of the intergovernmental system, notes that the system has "been a pervasive feature of the American political system for 30 to 50 years." 59
There has been a good deal of discussion of late among academicians and public administrators concerning alternative modes of public service delivery approaches. This discussion has centered upon contracting between governments, privatization, and the use of volunteers. Contracting between governments for the provision of a service or the joint use of a facility has become especially widespread in America. Indeed, it is through the use of contracts and other forms of incremental change that local governments in metropolitan areas have been partially able to overcome structural difficulties associated with the decentralized governmental structure of the metropolis. 60 Further, the concept of privatization, which extols the virtue of government contracting with the private sector for a service, has gained widespread national attention and enjoyed some measure of implementation success. 61 President George Bush has been a major advocate of the employment of civic-minded volunteers. Contracting, privatization, and the employment of volunteers have long been practiced in West Point.
In sum, the thrust of my argument is simply this: While pecularities are to be found in regard to the politics of other communities, the individual states, and the federal government, the government and politics of West Point constitute, in many significant respects, an accurate reflection of the basic character of American politics as a whole. Political conservatism has come of age throughout America, personal attributes have become a more important factor in deciding the outcome of electoral campaigns, and voting by citizens at all levels of government has suffered a marked decline. Those who hold public office in the United States, overwhelmingly middle- and upper-class in their social status, are drawn from a distinctly small sector of the population. Office holders, at all levels of government, enjoy repeated terms of office, skillfully utilizing the function of constituency service to their political advantage. And all governments throughout the United States are part and parcel of a massive system of intergovernmental relations, with their fortunes irrevocably related to one another. In a larger sense, my observations about the government and politics of West Point are not bound exclusively to that locality, but provide the reader with some insight into the attributes of the larger American political system.