Hiring and Firing Public Officials: Rethinking the Purpose of Elections

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9780199759965: Hiring and Firing Public Officials: Rethinking the Purpose of Elections
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Conventional theories of elections hold that an election is analogous to a consumer product market. According to the market paradigm, voters are consumers, candidates are competing firms, and an election is a market in which voters exchange votes for policy by voting for the candidates whose policies they prefer. According to this logic, a healthy democracy requires frequent competitive elections. The market analogy underlies decades of electoral theory, but in Hiring and Firing Public Officials, Justin Buchler contends that it does not capture the real nature of elections. In fact, our widespread dissatisfaction with the current state of electoral politics derives from a fundamental misunderstanding of what elections are and what purpose they serve. As Justin Buchler shows, an election is a mechanism by which voters hire and fire public officials. It is not a consumer product market--it is a single employment decision. Thus, the health of democracy depends not on regular competitive elections, but on posing a credible threat to fire public officials who do not perform their jobs well. However, the purpose of that threat is to force public officials to act as faithful public servants so that they do not have to be fired. Thus, competitive elections, by most definitions, are indicative of a failure of the democratic system.

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About the Author:

Justin Buchler is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Case Western Reserve University. He is the author of several articles about the negative consequences of competitive elections, including, "The Social Sub-optimality of Competitive Elections," which won the 2007 Gordon Tullock Award for Best Paper By A Young Scholar.


"Justin Buchler is hunting big game. His book forces scholars to question basic assumptions upon which many scholarly conclusions regarding politics rest. Supporters of rational choice theory will have their assumptions challenged, and opponents of rational choice may welcome the book. But both supporters and opponents may take this work as the academic equivalent of an inside job as the challenge is made by someone who knows the terrain very well, with a critique that is deeply grounded in actual politics."--David Lublin, Professor of Government, American University, and author of TheParadox of Representation"Justin Buchler is one of very few scholars applying much-needed critical scrutiny to the assumption that more competitive elections should be an overriding policy goal. His book should be read by anyone interested in American election reform."--Daniel Lowenstein, Director, UCLA Center for the Liberal Arts and Free Institutions (CLAFI)

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Justin Buchler
Published by Oxford University Press (2011)
ISBN 10: 0199759960 ISBN 13: 9780199759965
New Hardcover First Edition Quantity Available: 1
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(Portland, ME, U.S.A.)

Book Description Oxford University Press, 2011. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0199759960

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