Nicholas Carnes

The Cash Ceiling

Why Only the Rich Run for Office and What We Can Do About It

Princeton University Press 2018

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Public PolicyNew Books Network September 28, 2018 Heath Brown

In 2018, much attention has been drawn to candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Randy Bryce: candidates for Congress who’ve made a living doing working...

In 2018, much attention has been drawn to candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Randy Bryce: candidates for Congress who’ve made a living doing working class jobs. They are unusual because Congressional candidates are almost always drawn from white collar professions.

Why do so few working class candidates run for office? Are workers unfit to govern? Do workers care about politics less? In The Cash Ceiling: Why Only the Rich Run for Office and What We Can Do About It (Princeton University Press, 2018), Nicholas Carnes says “no”, the conventional wisdom is all wrong. Carnes is the Creed C. Black Professor of Public Policy and Political Science at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.

Carnes’ book shows the real barriers to more working-class people running for office are that they lack the time and are rarely asked. Synthesizing a variety of new sources of data, Carnes finds that political parties do not look to workers to run, preferring instead professionals drawn from a small array of fields. Carnes does not stop at diagnosing the problem. He offers practical solutions to increase the number of working-class candidates and likely working-class elected officials in the future.

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