In the United States, men of moderate desires commit themselves to the twists and turns of politics. Men of great talent and passion in general avoid power to pursue wealth; it often comes about that only those who feel inadequate in the conduct of their own business undertake to direct the fortunes of the state.
These reasons, quite as much as any poor decisions of democracy, have to account for the great number of coarse men holding public office. I do not know whether the people of the United States would choose men of superior qualities who might canvass their votes but it is certain that such men do not bid for office.
~ Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, p. 238