Out of the Running

Why Millennials Reject Political Careers and Why It Matters

272 pages

28 figures and 20 tables

January, 2017

ISBN: 9781479877485



Add to Cart Available: 12/30/2016

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Shauna L. Shames is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University-Camden. Prior to entering academia, she worked with several nonprofit and feminist organizations, including the National Organization for Women (NOW) and The White House Project. She received her PhD from Harvard University in 2014.

All books by Shauna L. Shames

An inside look into why Millennials are rejecting careers in politics, and what this means for the future of America's political system
Millennials are often publically criticized for being apathetic about the American political process and their lack of interest in political careers. But what do millennials themselves have to say about the prospect of holding political office? Are they as uninterested in political issues and the future of the American political system as the media suggests?

Out of the Running goes directly to the source and draws from extensive research, including over 50 interviews, with graduate students in elite institutions that have historically been a direct link for their graduates into state or federal elected office: Harvard Law, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Boston’s Suffolk University Law School. Shauna Shames, herself a young graduate of Harvard University, suggests that millennials are not uninterested; rather, they don’t believe that a career in politics is the best way to create change. Millennials view the system as corrupt or inefficient and are particularly skeptical about the fundraising, frenzied media attention, and loss of privacy that have become staples of the American electoral process.  They are clear about their desire to make a difference in the world but feel that the “broken” political system is not the best way to do so—a belief held particularly by millennial women and women of color.

The implications of Shames’ argument are crucial for the future of the American political system—how can a system adapt and grow if qualified, intelligent leaders are not involved? An engaging and accessible resource for anyone who follows American politics, Out of the Running highlights the urgent need to fix the American political system, as an absence of diverse millennial candidates leaves its future in a truly precarious position.


  • "This is a remarkable, disciplined study of our country's future.  Shauna Shames has spent years meticulously interviewing passionate, bright, eager Millennials to learn if they see politics and public service as a rewarding field.  I'm stunned to learn they are fleeing the political arena, turned off by the high financial costs of running and even higher emotional costs of what has become a disrespected occupation. Some even doubt that government is the best medium for change.  The best and the brightest of an entire generation are in danger of being lost to the democratic process.  Further, those least likely to run are those we need most:  women, especially women of color. Nevertheless, Shauna is optimistic and provides solutions. This book isn't just for academics--it's for everyone who loves our country."

    —Donna Brazile, author of Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics

  • "Shauna Shames is a young woman with a fire in her belly about young people leading in politics and the brains and tenacity to make it happen. This book is about what Shauna has been dedicated to for years, and I agree with her that it is the most important thing we can do to maintain and strengthen our democracy: Get diverse young people to run for office in great numbers. Buy it, read it, and buy at least ten more and send them to the young women and men you know."

    —Marie C. Wilson, Honorary Founder and President Emerita, Ms. Foundation for Women; Founder, The White House Project