Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Need for Experience to Be President

One of the principle Democratic Party talking points this election season will be how Ms. Clinton has experience in government and her opponent, Mr. Trump, does not.  That, she will say, “will make all the difference in maintaining our position in the world.”

I wonder is that true?  How much experience did President Obama have before he rocketed to the office of President?  Do his supporters believe his lack of hands-on experience made him less effective in achieving his party’s goals?

I will grant it is a dangerous world, but then again it is always a dangerous world.  It was so in 1789, 1860, 1932, 1952, 1960 and 1980 just to pick a few relevant years.  In each of these years someone who had no experience being President rose up to lead the nation.  In fact, what job prepares you to be a great President?  Is it being a governor?  If that is the case then we have Ronald Reagan, Franklin Roosevelt and Jimmy Carter as examples of the good and bad.  Of the 44 Presidents 10 were governors at one time before their election.

How about a life long history of public service?  George H.W. Bush had that, how did he do?  Is being a Secretary of State a good indicator of competence?  There were three Secretaries of State who moved up to the job of President.  Unfortunately, the last one was James Madison, so who knows if that helps out in a modern world full of sophisticated things like private servers and blackberries.

Military leaderships seems to be a good quality…but the last war hero was Dwight D. Eisenhower, and this protracted conflict we are in does not seem to be growing a lot of household names.  True… there are a few who’ve been profiled in Rolling Stone, but that hasn’t seemed to work out well for them.

There does seem to be one obvious truth, no one in the history of the US has walked in off the street without some experience in political/government life to become the President.

We elect our Presidents based more on emotion than reason.  How they will do once they have to get to work in the Oval Office is hardly, if ever, really thought through.  The only thing we have to base our choice on is the history they have shown, and the words they speak.  Do the two align?

In this election neither candidate has a great track record of saying and doing the same thing.  One is a billionaire, reality TV star, real estate tycoon, and the other a millionaire, secretive, inner circle lawyer/bureaucrat.  One has left a wake of disgruntled politicians behind, the other has left throngs of disgruntled social justice idealists behind.  On the one hand we have an outsider promising to change government, on the other a political insider also promising that change.  Who do you believe?

So we come back to the question does experience in government service matter?  Obviously the answer to that question must come from each voter.  If you like the way government is operated, then yes it does.  If not, then no it doesn’t.  In the final analysis, the job either candidate will fulfill will be unlike anything either of them has ever done in their life.  This 2008 campaign ad sums it up nicely.  In the case of Ms. Clinton we know how poorly she handled it.  As to Mr. Trump, all we have is a guess about how he will do.


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