Published online by Cambridge University Press: 20 April 2020
I conclude that the hidden state grows because elites find it useful, strategically, to attenuate their policy designs and communications when their side in America’s foundational struggles is temporarily dethroned by rival ideas and institutions. Policymakers face strategic decisions about the combination of policy design and presentation most conducive to passing and sustaining their policy reforms, decisions with consequences for the shape and scope of the state. By choosing attenuated governance – publicly distancing government from politically contentious purposes – those elites commodify public services and complicate lines of democratic accountability. Understanding the origins, operation, and effects of attenuated governance helps illuminate the contours of state development and the strategies policymakers adopt to deal with its tensions and contradictions.