Severing the electoral connection : public preferences for governing through experts
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Non-elected persons, such as political appointees and civil servants, are critical to the functioning of American government. Commonly referred to as the "fourth branch", the bureaucracy poses a democratic accountability problem with its staff of non-elected individuals carrying out public policy. Though it opposes classic democratic norms, a burgeoning literature on political processes suggests that, in fact, non-elected processes may be exactly what the people want. This dissertation project questions the role and importance of bureaucratic offcials, mechanisms, and processes to citizens in the United States. As the ultimate source of a democracy's power, the people, it is critical to understand their perceptions of such a large part of a democracy that does not operate democratically. Investigating these process-based preferences speaks to many fundamental questions and concepts regarding the presence of non-elected entities within a democracy, such as bureaucratic legitimacy, expertise, and neutral competence. I use a unique survey I placed on the 2014 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES) as the primary source of data, and supplement my analyses with additional process-based questions from the 2009 California Field Poll. I find that non-elected process preferences follow distinct patterns of diffuse and specific support (Easton 1975). A process preference can refl ect short-term, partisan and incumbent considerations rather than an entrenched distaste for democracy, depending on the proposal at hand. I move the process literature forward by digging deeper into what others have uncritically accepted as non-elected process preferences, and highlight the importance of distinguishing between proposals that have differing bases of support.
At author's request, access is limited to the University of Missouri--Columbia.