John W. Kingdon

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People in and around government sense a national mood.

John Wells Kingdon (born 1940) is Professor Emeritus and former Chair of Political Science at the University of Michigan. He is a graduate of Oberlin College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was a Guggenheim fellow.

Sourced[edit]

Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies - (Second Edition)[edit]

  • It seemed to me that we knew something about how issues were decided, but that we knew much less about how they got to be issues in the first place.
    • Preface To The First Edition, p. xvii
  • The phrase "an idea whose time has come" captures a fundamental reality about an irresistible movement that sweeps over the politics and our society, pushing aside everything that might stand in its path.
    • Chapter 1, How Does an Idea's Time Come?, p. 1
  • The agenda, as I conceive of it, is the list of subjects or problems to which government officials, and people outside of government closely associated with those officials, are paying some serious attention at any given time.
    • Chapter 1, How Does an Idea's Time Come?, p. 3
  • Setting the agenda and getting one's way, however, are two very different things.
    • Chapter 2, Participants on the Inside of Government, p. 23
  • One goal of a senator or representative is satisfying constituents. Publicity is essential, and one way to get publicity is to push for new policy initiatives.
    • Chapter 2, Participants on the Inside of Government, p. 38
  • A fair body of scholarship has come to challenge the view that elected officials reign supreme.
    • Chapter 2, Participants on the Inside of Government, p. 43
Setting the agenda and getting one's way, however, are two very different things.
  • There is nothing automatic about campaign pledges finding their way into public policy.
    • Chapter 3, Outside Government, But Not Just Looking In, p. 63
  • Public opinion may sometimes direct government to do something, but it more often constrains government from doing something.
    • Chapter 3, Outside Government, But Not Just Looking In, p. 65
  • Ideas come from anywhere, actually, and the critical factor that explains the prominence of an item on the agenda is not its source, but instead the climate in government or the receptivity to ideas of a given type, regardless of source.
    • Chapter 4, Processes: Origins, Rationality, Incrementalism, and Garbage Cans, p. 72
  • People are sometimes reluctant to take big steps. Apprehensive about being unable to calculate the political fallout, politicians shy away from grand departures.
    • Chapter 4, Processes: Origins, Rationality, Incrementalism, and Garbage Cans, p. 80
  • Somehow, open heart surgery means more to most of us then the Alton, Illinois, Lock and Dam 26.
    • Chapter 5, Problems, p. 95
  • The mere fact of being behind in "the greatest country on earth" is enough to constitute a problem for some people.
    • Chapter 5, Problems, p. 111
  • Ideas become prominent and then fade.
    • Chapter 6, The Policy Primeval Soup, p. 117
  • The chances for a problem to rise on the decision agenda are dramatically increased if a solution is attached.
    • Chapter 6, The Policy Primeval Soup, p. 143
  • Flowing along independently of the problems and policy streams is the political stream, composed of such things as public mood, pressure group campaigns, election results, partisan or ideological distributions in Congress, and changes of administration.
    • Chapter 7, The Political Stream, p. 145
  • People in and around government sense a national mood.
    • Chapter 7, The Political Stream, p. 146
  • Consensus is built, sometimes very rapidly, by cutting in many and diverse interests.
    • Chapter 7, The Political Stream, p. 161
  • A good idea catches on, snowballing as it picks up adherents. Sometimes a bad idea does the same.
    • Chapter 7, The Political Stream, p. 161
  • The opportunity passes if the ready alternative is not available.
    • Chapter 8, The Policy Window, and Joining the Streams, p. 170
Consensus is built, sometimes very rapidly, by cutting in many and diverse interests.
  • Participants perceive swings in national mood, elections bring new administrations to power and new partisan or ideological distributions to Congress, and interest groups of various descriptions press (or fail to press) their demands on government.
    • Chapter 9, Wrapping Things Up, p. 196
  • We still encounter considerable doses of messiness, accident, fortuitous coupling, and dumb luck.
    • Chapter 9, Wrapping Things Up, p. 206
  • Public policy changes in very large leaps, as in the New Deal of the 1930's, the Great Society of the mid-1960's, and the Reagan revolution of 1981. These spasms of reform are interspersed with periods of rest and stasis, as if the participants are exhausted from their exertion and catching their breath. But in any event, this does not look like Darwinian, gradualistic evolution.
    • Chapter 10, Some Further Reflections, p. 226

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