Date of Award

Spring 1974

Document Type



Political Science & International Relations

First Advisor

Dennis Wiedmann

Second Advisor

Richard Reese

Third Advisor

Harold Smith


This study deals with political ambition and recruitment. It is a limited investigation into the reasons why certain individuals run for public office. Why does a person become a politician? What factors, motivate an individual to enter politics? This will be the focus of my study. I believe that it is imperative that we ask and seek solutions to these fundamental questions. In our society, the political profession offers an individual nearly unlimited opportunity for correcting the ills and meeting the needs of society. Yet, simultaneously, politics and politicians are looked upon with increasing suspicion and cynicism by the general public. In our recent national experience we have been the victims of wide-scale corruption and illegal activities which have been perpetrated by some of our public officials. Many people are sincerely asking; can our system of government continue to endure in light of these unpresidented events. I believe that these activities are only the superficial effects of a much more complex dilemma. We as a people are ignorant of our governmental process. We comprehend how governmental structures and institutions function but we have failed to recognize the significance of the vital roles played by public officials within our system of government. This ignorance has created uncertainty, fear, and suspicion toward many public officials on all levels of government. Perhaps by attempting to arrive at some conclusions as to why certain people enter politics we will attain a better understanding of our political process. What are the opportunities offered by the American political system? What are the functional-structural incentives and deterents which encourage or restrict individuals from seeking office? What values do individuals pursue through political offices. Are they motivated by a guest for power? Do they seek affection or well-being? Do they strive for wealth or respect? Do they run in order to serve the public good? It is my conviction that by attempting to answer these rudlimentary questions we will begin to comprehend the consequences of elected public service. If we begin to recognize the capabilities and the limitations inherent in elective office we may begin to dispell the undertainty, fear and suspicion which presently shrouds our political system.