August 5, 2016

About inexperienced voters electing inexperienced Presidents

The job of President of the United States was designed for inexperienced people. Being a governor or a senator isn’t much like being president. Governors don’t deal with international affairs and senators don’t manage big organizations. The best-case scenario is usually a president with half of the experience you might want, and even that experience isn’t terribly relevant. No job is similar to being president.

As far as I can tell, all seventeen Republicans and three Democrats in the primaries had enough brains and experience to do the job of president. That’s because they all know how to leverage the experience of others, also known as leadership.

The thing that surprised me on social media – in response to my post about experience – is that so many people believe president-like experience is important for doing the job of president. That’s the sort of thinking that sounds totally reasonable at first. Experience is almost always a good thing – in almost any endeavor – so why wouldn’t experience be extra important for the high-stakes job of president?

But here’s the problem. The people who think experience matters, also vote.

How can you vote for the best candidate for president if you have no experience voting for these particular candidates in the past? What experience do you have that makes you qualified to know that – for example – Hillary Clinton would negotiate the best international trade deals? You know nothing about trade deals, and even less about how Clinton might actually deal with them once on the job. Now multiply that times every complicated topic in domestic and world affairs. That’s a lot of topics in which you know little or nothing – because you have no experience as president. But you still think your vote is adding intelligence to the process.

If you were here with me in person, you might be arguing that you don’t need deep knowledge about the individual political topics because you are only judging the skill and political philosophy of the candidate. If you pick the right person for the job – in our Republic system – that person can go make the right decisions on your behalf.

As a voter, you’re doing exactly what you say an inexperienced candidate for president can’t do. If you vote, you believe you can get the right solutions on complicated political issues by electing the right candidate. Yet you don’t think a smart candidate for president – with no government experience – can pick the right advisors for a topic.

If experience is so important for being President of the United States, why isn’t it equally important for you as a voter? You have no experience voting for these two particular candidates. Sure, maybe you have done some hiring at your job site. But that is nothing like picking a president.

As a voter, you are totally inexperienced (in any detail) with the topics that a president must address, and you are also inexperienced at picking between a Trump and a Clinton. No one has ever made that specific choice before.

If you think government experience is necessary to do the job of President of the United States, you’re probably suffering from analogy dysfunction. A senator is not like a president. A governor is not like a president.

No one is experienced at being President of the United States. That’s why the Cabinet and all the presidential advisors exist.

Do you have expert advisors on every political topic advising you on how to vote? Or do you think experience is not important for the vital questions of your country’s survival?

Pick one.

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