Politics-Administration Dichotomy Explained

This paper describes the politics-administration dichotomy, explains both sides of the debate on whether the politics-administration dichotomy exists in practice or only in theory, gives specific real-world examples.

Politics-Administration Dichotomy

Politics has dominated society for a long time and in various ways. Politics involves the activities related to attaining positions of governance and exercising the positions that come with the needs of governance. The significant component of politics is the coming up with policies that serve the interests of a section or the entirety of the society. Politics serves as the tool for the making of policies that serve specific interests and goals. Administration, on the other hand, is the arm that deals with the execution of the policies made from through many means, including politics (Overeem, 2017). The two subjects have a great interplay in reality and, therefore, form a basis for discussions on how far they impact on each other. This paper elaborates on the various viewpoints and the reality of the politics-administration dichotomy in society today.

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The politics-administration dichotomy is a phrase that attempts to posit that politics and administration are different entities that do not heavily overlap in reality. One of the most significant figures to support this kind of notion is the former President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson. Wilson considered politics and administration to be separate entities and encouraged everyone to approach them as such. He wrote that administration run like a business and is therefore governed by strict principles of efficiency that ensures that things are run correctly. However, he considered politics to be characterized by strife and a lot of hurry, and therefore, could not work together with the field of administration. The politics-administration dichotomy is as it tries to delineate the function of politics and administration. Additionally, it gives an idea of the balancing act that is needed to achieve both the goals of public administration and those of politics. The politics-administration dichotomy focuses on the separation of politics and public administration to ensure that a government fulfills its democratic duties and for the administration of public functions to be optimum and efficient. 

In practice, there exists a vast repertoire of scenarios that indicate that there is an actual need for the separation of politics and public administration. Many developing countries face a situation where there is an increased relationship between politics and administration. This can be seen in such countries as Nigeria, Venezuela, and Myanmar. Considering that politicians in developing countries do not have immense power, they seek to get to positions of administration of the country to amass the power. The most influential administrators in these countries are people who have rose through politics to occupy those positions. It is therefore seen that, although politics and administration are separate bodies, one is used to achieve the other. This kind of relationship has been blamed for the sluggish manner with which the public administration is administered. These governments are laden with a lot of inefficiencies and corruption, which makes it impossible for actual developments to be carried out.

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However, there is an excellent contrast in what the theory of politics-administration dichotomy and what happens in society. Politics and public administration have numerous overlapping avenues where they both coexist. It can be argued that politics and public administration are significantly intertwined that none can work without the other (Goodnow, 2017). It is also evident that both play a more significant role in society than any combination of other factors. Most administrators, who are experts in their various fields, have risen to be advisors of politicians who occupy or seek to fill various political seats. These advisors always have political interests of their own, and therefore, can only be of assistance to politicians who harbor the same interests. Additionally, most policies that are enacted by administrators, such as legislators, often originate from politicians. For example, Obamacare that was passed in 2010 by the United States Congress was a policy advanced through political means by President Obama.

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I tend to agree with the side that pushes for a more significant relationship between politics and administration. This is because I have witnessed many examples that have illustrated how this relationship can be a force for good in society. For example, it is through persistent political action by the Democratic Party that members of congress enacted the marriage equality bill (Mitchell & Petray, 2016). The persistent push for inclusion must have also positively influenced the court ruling in 2015 that paved the way for the legalization of gay marriages in the United States. However, I support the idea of utilitarianism in how this relationship should work. There should be adequate checks and balances to ensure that even in the presence of a strong link between politics and administration, there is reduced inefficiency in service provision to the public. In conclusion, it is apparent that the dichotomy of politics and administration exists in various societies across the world. However, the reality is that there is more evidence that the concept is more theoretical than practical. Politics and administration have close ties, and many policies originate from either arm. Thus both politics and administration impact profoundly on each other due to the overlapping of roles.

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