Monday, August 27, 2007

Political Inexperience

Sometimes we hear a political candidate described by the incumbent he or she is facing as being ‘inexperienced’. It’s very catchy phrase, but honestly I have no idea what it means or why it matters in a political context.

I can understand why an auto shop would seek out a mechanic who is experienced in all facets of auto maintenance and repair. I suspect that, were I to require surgery or dental work, that I’d much prefer an experienced doctor or dentist to a relative novice. There is no way, in either instance, that I’d trust myself to a rank amateur.

Regarding politics, however, try as I might, I don’t see the practical effect of experience or the need for it. A causal look at the ‘experienced’ Washington politicians tells me that whatever political experience they have gained is proving to be detrimental to their characters and to the country overall. These ‘experienced’ elected officials are so morally and ethically bankrupt that they lie to us even when they aren’t running for re-election!

Now people will say that experience matters for several reasons. The most common rationalization is that experience and tenure offer the possibility of special committee appointments, only available to ranking members of Congress. Yet, it makes no sense to base these appointments on tenure rather than actual hands-on experience with the subject at hand. If senator has no military service or training, why would he be qualified to serve on a committee assigned to determine military questions simply because he has been re-elected by his constituency a dozen times?

A junior senator who had served in military and in the defense department would have an infinite knowledge and experience base when compared with the older senator sitting on the committee, but he or she don’t get the job. See, that sounds just plain stupid to me. If I were to drive into an auto repair shop and ask to have a consult on how to best repair my vehicle (otherwise known as the ‘estimate’), I would not want to speak to the guy who has been most popular with his buddies for the longest time, rather the younger mechanic who has hands-on experience. The young guy might not be the smooth-talking salesman, but he knows how to fix a car and that's why I drove my vehicle into a repair shop.

I would hope that most people want a government that works in the best interest of the people and addresses the nation's problems, hopes, and dreams in the same nuts-and-bolts fashion as would our younger, yet more hands-on experienced mechanic. I don't care how long the more popular fellow has known someone in the auto industry or that he has close personal ties with a tire manufacturer. I just want my car fixed. That requires one sort of experience; that of a trained auto mechanic.

In reality, the claim that one’s opponent is ‘inexperienced’ is meaningless argument. Yet, it must have a ring of truth to it for so many to nod their heads in agreement. Literally speaking, the candidate would likely be inexperienced due the fact that they never held the job before! Yet, the incumbent had no problem taking the position when he, too, was ‘inexperienced’. I'm sure, were we to look back at the campaign speeches of the incumbent, prior to his 'experience', he would have conjured many ways to claim such experience when, in fact, he is now claiming his challenger is a lesser man for possessing the same virtue.

The question of experience is moot anyhow. Politicians have an incredible support system awaiting them once in office. They have staffers, secretaries, legal teams, party advisers, and the collective expertise of those elected officials around them. I wish I had that much support and assistance in my own job. I would be able to do even less than the politicians!

What is the novice inexperienced at doing that would negatively affect his or her public service? Well, for starters, the novice is likely to be a wide-eyed populist, the sort of person who really speaks for the interests of the people and not merely for lobbyists or the party machine. This fellow would be the guy who had his credentials put into question from day one of his campaign. Why? He will not play nice.

I don’t want any more ‘experienced’ politicians whose ‘experience’ forces them into the mold of kissing the asses everywhere and anywhere they walk in DC, be they the ubiquitous lobbyist or the senior senator or anyone else. The claim of ‘inexperience’ is nonsense. I have seen what ‘experience’ in politics creates and I’m sick of it. It's a game of cronyism and seniority that has no tangible meaning whatsoever.

A whole lot of other Americans are fed up, too.

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