First Person Political: Legislative Life and the Meaning of Public Service
New York University Press, December 2006
In "First Person Political," Grant Reeher, professor of political science, combats the public's alienation from and distrust of politicians by putting a personal face on everyday political life. Through moving personal interviews, Reeher allows legislators to tell their own stories about how and why they came to politics, the experience of serving in their state legislature, their decisions to stay or leave, and the many trials they face in the name of public service. Reeher contends that these politicians do have the public good in mind and often suffer great personal losses for their chance to represent the people and fight for what they think is right.
His research also shows that those who choose to run for office often come from a background of deep community involvement. Reeher argues against public cynicism about our elected officials, and his profiles stir not only our praise and respect for these legislators, but also a greater belief in the democratic process itself. The excerpts from his interviews provide a rarely afforded intimate look at these politicians.
What emerges from these stories is a humane and believable portrait of public servants acting on behalf of the public good, a portrait that should provide some comfort, perhaps even inspiration, for citizens concerned about the state of American democracy.
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