The Suspect Handmaiden: The Evolution of Politics and Administration in the American State
Public Administration Review • December 2010
9 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2019
Date Written: December 1, 2010
Scholars of an earlier era predicted a more secure role for the administrative state in American political culture. This vision overlooked a historical irony that governs the relationship between politics and administration. For American society, the administrative state is a suspect handmaiden. Citizens have looked to public administration to enable extraordinary growth while simultaneously distrusting it. In recent decades, these contradictory trends have grown. The growth of the state, increased polarization, and political attacks on government have produced a set of values, perspectives, and capabilities that often do not mesh with one another or with many governmental activities. As a result, we find outdated mechanisms of accountability, politicization, and a broader illegitimacy that threatens the capacity of the state to act effectively.
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