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The Cash Ceiling$
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Nicholas Carnes

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691182001

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691182001.001.0001

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Government by the Privileged

Government by the Privileged

(p.1) 1 Government by the Privileged
The Cash Ceiling

Nicholas Carnes

Princeton University Press

This chapter opens the discussion on why working-class Americans—people employed in manual labor, service industry, or clerical jobs—almost never go on to hold political office in the United States. It suggests that the economic gulf between politicians and the people they represent—a so-called government by the privileged or white-collar government—has serious consequences for the American democratic process. Although journalists and scholars have always had hunches about what keeps working-class Americans out of office, to date there has been almost no actual research on why the United States is governed by the privileged or what reformers might do about it. This book tries to change that. It argues that workers are less likely to hold office not because they are unqualified or because voters prefer more affluent candidates, but because workers are simply less likely to run for public office in the first place.

Keywords:   working-class Americans, American politics, American workers, U.S. politics, political office, public office

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