Nathan Sass

Politicians to Voters: Trust Me, I Am A Professional

In 2012 Elections, Barack Obama, Humor, Politics, Ron Johnson, Tea Party on January 10, 2012 at 6:00 AM

In just about every campaign for office in my lifetime, candidates have relied on the “experience” argument to qualify their candidacy.

Experience is certainly a good thing when you are talking about picking a doctor or a pilot.  It can help you determine if the person you are hiring can really help you or might just kill you.

In politics, however, I would argue that this logic actually works in reverse.  Experience in the field should not be a comforting thing that we rely heavily on to make choices on who we elect.  I argue that the electorate should take a very skeptical view of “professional politicians” and limit their understanding of “experience” to include only those things outside the political world.

In WI, we elected Ron Johnson to the US Senate.  Mr. Johnson had a lot of experience in business, and none in elected politics.  Mr. Johnson was involved in local civic issues, but was not a “professional politician” by any measure.

I argue this is exactly what makes Mr. Johnson such a powerful force and effective Senator.  He has not been part of the political class, doesn’t play the game the way professional elected officials do.  He uses his own judgement based on the real world experiences he has without consulting his political allies to determine if it is ok for him to do so.

Johnson broke many conventions and dared to run for a leadership position in the GOP caucus in his first year as a US Senator.  I am sure this did not make many friends for him in DC, especially among the “behind the scenes” types that few of us even know exist.  The power brokers don’t like rouge actors who do not follow the rules and play the game.  It makes their lives difficult when it comes to pulling the strings they do to get things done.

A recent story by my local Fox affiliate (“Voters say they want fresh faces when it comes to names on ballots“) asserts that the mood of voters regarding the professional political class is changing.  People are growing tired of the same ol’ same old.  This is probably a good thing.

We have elected almost exclusively professional politicians for a long time now.  The last group of “non professional” politicians in charge of things was probably the founders themselves, which is why you can actually read and understand the Constitution.  After them came one pro after another.

That’s probably why things are so screwed up.  Professional politicians gave us things like “base line budgets”.  If you don’t know what that is you probably live in the real world and use an actual budget.

In a nut shell, base line budgets assume that the government must spend at least as much or more next year as we did this year on EVERYTHING.

Using that in the real world, if you spent $5,000 on a new roof this year, you would then budget $5,200 next year for another new roof.  Yes, I know you wouldn’t need another new roof, but the baseline for roofs in your budget is now $5,000 and that’s the way it works.

If you took that money out of the budget, the roofer would scream bloody murder and call you a hateful monster that wants no one to have a roof, ever, anywhere.  If you just change it to $5,100, the roofer would accuse you of cutting the roof budget 100% (yes, that is how DC math really works).

The roofer would say you want your children not to have a roof over their heads and that you are hateful and want to see the children suffer.  He would accuse you of balancing the budget on the backs of the poor, poor children in your house.

Then you would cave in and buy another new roof for $5,200 so your neighbors don’t hear the roofer and think you are a mean ogre and call Child Protective Services on you.

The year after that, the new roof budget will be $5,400 and you wouldn’t dare to even think of changing it.

Now you have spent $10,000 on roofs you didn’t need and will continue to do so for eternity.  And you will borrow money from China to pay for it.  Your kids will get the bill someday, but you’ll be dead then so who cares.  At least no one thought you were a mean ogre.

Here’s another fine example.  The founders needed 5 pages to set the whole darn government up in the Constitution.  And a 5th grader can read it!

Professional politicians need more than that to declare today National Cut Your Energy Costs Day.  (I’m serious.  Jan 10th is National Cut Your Energy Costs Day.  They actually passed a bill for that.  Did you get your shopping done?)

They pass the bill declaring today national something silly day and then tack on a bunch of “riders” that hand out money to this group or that company, or change a law to exempt GE or GM from some regulation.

That is what professional politicians have gotten us.  Math that isn’t really math at all, along with bills that contain 35,000 different items (many of them handing out money to someone), written in some type of pseudo-english understood by 4 people on the planet 1,000 pages long and all kinds of other ridiculous idiocy designed to hide what they are actually doing from the people that vote for them.

Sneaky buggers.

We have a chance now to change some of this.  It will not happen overnight, but we need more “non-professional” people like Ron Johnson elected at all levels.  We need to elect people that have experience in everything EXCEPT government.  People who have lived, worked and struggled living real lives, not people who have existed in some type of bizarre fantasy land called government where a $100 cut in the roof budget for a roof no one needs is somehow a 100% decrease and going to end the world.

When you examine the candidates you have to choose from, I beg you to remember this.  Examine the candidate’s whole resume, and expand your understanding of experience to include the real world.  In fact, limit your understanding of experience to the real world and ignore experience in elected office and government.  That isn’t the type of experience we should be looking for, anyway.

If the candidate has never had a “real job” outside of government (see: Obama, Barack; Frank, Barney; Gingrich, Newt; etc.), you probably should be very cautious.  How can you relate to a the real world if you never actually have been a part of it?

Support candidates that share your political values but are not professional life long politicians.  Rally to their cause and encourage them.  Send them money (and they will probably need lots of it), volunteer, and be proud of them.  Stick with them if they make some mistakes.  These are the people that will turn this thing around.

Relying on the professional politicians with decades of experience in elected office is how we got into this mess.  Can you seriously expect those same professionals to get us out of it?

  1. Well said. It’s long past time to begin culling the political class.

    The best term limits are the ones imposed at the ballot box.

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