This talk develops a framework to analyze how strategic politicians make tradeoffs and prioritize among six objectives (winning and staying in office, “good policy”, institutional power, career advancement, personal gain, and historical legacy) in particular situations. It focuses on the nature of the political vehicles (notably parties) within which politicians operate and broader political opportunity structures as determinants of how objectives are prioritized and strategic choices are made. While drawing evidence from a variety of political systems, the empirical focus will be on social policy choices in advanced industrial countries.
R. Kent Weaver is Professor of Public Policy and Government at Georgetown University and a Visiting Professor at Stanford University in winter and spring 2019. His research focuses on the strategic behavior of politicians, political institutions, and comparative social policy.