Not All Experience Is Created Equal


Susan Estrich thinks the crop of Republican women winning primaries is problematic because they don’t have enough political experience:

Some years ago, the late New York Times and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist William Safire wrote a great column comparing politicians to plumbers. It was during one of those periods when (like now) experience had become a dirty word in politics and incumbency was a veritable curse. There was nothing worse you could say about someone than to call him a “career politician” — just what California Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman called her rival for the office only yesterday.

Safire’s point was a simple one: Would you hire a plumber who’d never done any plumbing to fix your pipes?

Why is politics different? If the plumber messes up, your toilet might flood or, worse, your pipes might burst. If the governor gets it wrong…

Politics looks easy until you try it.

She goes on to highlight a political mistake made by Carly Fiorina – allowing offhand remarks to be unknowingly be picked up by a nearby mic – which was the same mistake made by expert politician Joe Biden.:  This point has nothing to do with her premise, however, because allowing someone to catch you in an unscripted moment is not the kind of mistake that fits her metaphor.:  It has no consequences with regard to anyone’s life except for with regard to the politician’s electoral hopes.

Estrich has simply confused politics with lawmaking.

There is no doubt that having political experience makes one a better politician.:  Shaking hands, kissing babies, and speaking for hours without saying a damn thing are all skills a good politicians learns over his or her career.:  It’s just too bad that none of these skills make someone a good lawmaker.

A good lawmaker has lived in society and worked in the private sector, and therefore understands the consequences for the legislation being voted on. On the other hand, career politicians long removed from the normal issues of life and business are the ones who pass god-awful legislation that result in catastrophic “unintended” consequences that any normal person could have easily predicted.:  This is why we need more normal people in office instead of career politicians, no matter how extensive their political “experience.”

Cross-posted at Conservative Compendium.

Brian Garst

Brian Garst

Brian Garst is the Director of Government Affairs for the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, a non-profit think tank dedicated to preserving tax competition and free markets. He also blogs at BrianGarst.com.

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