The Values and Ideals thatMotivate Candidates for Public Office


Peter Wright

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There is magnificent potential in the power of public office in the United States. Candidates often run for election because they hope to tap this potential by lowering taxes, further protecting the environment, repaving roads, or a huge variety of other reasons. According to campaign speeches and material, regardless of party, candidates only have the best intentions for creating a better place for their constituents to live. Yet, many Americans distrust those who seek public office, and politicians are commonly viewed as greedy and power hungry. Evidence of this sentiment can be seen in the voter turnout for national elections, which generally struggles to top fifty percent. Even those who do cast a ballot in an election sometimes feel that they are merely choosing the ?lesser of two evils.? Examining the values and ideals that motivate candidates for public office provides a deeper meaning into political decision-making. I found that there are primarily two types of politicians: those who run to achieve goals and those who run to achieve titles. This conclusion is supported by the interviews that I conducted with more than thirty politicians, political staffers, and political people from city, county, and state governments and from both parties.


T. Mitchell




Lilly Foundation Values and Vocations Grant

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