Now, there’s nothing wrong with being a political professional. American politics wouldn’t be the same without it.
I have plenty of former students who are political professionals. They’ve worked for candidates and elected officials who are independents, Republicans and Democrats. Other students work in public policy or for lobby organizations or non-profits. They strategize and put out ads and press releases and write speeches and spend their days with people in government and people who are trying to get governmental positions.
Meanwhile, I won an award for a paper called, “Another Tocquevillean Moment: Alexis de Tocqueville in Communitarian Movements and Political Science” and my next publication in the pipeline is a book chapter called “Public Opinion in the Archives.” I think both are really cool.
So I really have to wonder what it takes to be a professional in politics. I mean, can someone like me be a professional, a person who has never held a job in a campaign, lobby organization, policy research center, or non-profit focused on politics or public policy?
If so, the standards for professionalism certainly seem cockeyed. Who knew?**
** By the way, I discuss professionalism in my new book, Pollways: Crisis, Cooperation and the Making of Public Opinion Professions and especially recommend the discussion of professionalization in The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement by Teles.
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