The Plumber/Heart Surgeon Argument
Watching the Republican CNN Debate last night has gotten me a little worried. Over the past few years, it has become a very cool thing for a candidate to eschew any and all semblances of a political career - especially in Washington, D.C.. "I am not a politician! I have never held national political office!" have become battle cries from candidates like Herman Cain and Mitt Romney. They're trying very hard to make you believe one thing: in order to fix the problems in our political system, you need an outsider to do the job.
And, I get the nice sentiment behind the idea. It's a classic Western movie script. We have a problem in our town and we need John Wayne, a stranger with a straight shot, to come in, run the varmints out of town, and set right the wrongs done. But, unfortunately, this isn't about what's morally right or wrong. There is more at stake than a cowboy wearing a black hat taking over a town in the middle of nowhere.
The way I see it, the argument these folks over the past several years (and believe me, there have been dozens of them - Christine O'Donnell & Sharon Angle, anyone?) have been making is that we should consider hiring a plumber as our heart surgeon. You know, because you're just fixing someone's internal plumbing... It can't be that different from unclogging a drain, right?
Romney, Cain, and their fellow "I have never held political office, please elect me President" crowd seem to be misunderstanding something. If you've never held political office, that should not be worn as a badge of honor, especially if you're asking people to elect you to the highest national political office in the country - and, arguably, the world.
I work retail whilst going through the hoops of getting my Master's degree. I cannot walk into my store's corporate office and ask to be named CEO with the qualification of, "Well, I've never been the head of a major multi-national corporation, but I've managed a half dozen people, and Oh Look! I have this Bachelor's degree here." It just doesn't work that way.
For a group of politicians who gripe and moan about America needing to go back to the way the free market does things and lifting up our capitalist society as the paragon of how a country needs to be run, they sure don't want to be elected to political office like our free market would do it. They want to skip some very key steps.
Exactly what about running a pizza chain qualifies you to instigate diplomatic relations with North Korea? What about being a gazillionaire former governor of a largely Democratic state - the first to legalize gay marriage - who has tried 3 times in the past to be elected to a national office and failed, qualifies you to be the Republican candidate and further fix our nation's problems? Really... What?
I realize that both sides of the aisle have made the word 'politican' into a very dirty word meaning something I shall not say here, but you do not hire a plumber to do a surgeon's job. It's fine if you don't want to go to medical school and choose to learn a trade instead, but don't expect to become chief of surgery at Seattle Grace because you think you'd make a good one. You've got a lot of good ideas. It doesn't work that way.
If you do not have any interest in being a 'politician,' if you're proud of never having held national office (though, not for lack of trying in Romney's case), if you are so hell bent on perpetuating this cowboy mentality, then - I'm sorry - but you have no basis for running a national campaign. I sincerely hope you do not get the nomination, and I especially hope that you do not get elected. If a Republican is to take office, I hope it is someone who is a politician. Who has held national office. Someone who has worked on diplomatic solutions, who can deal with other countries. Someone who has helped to balance budgets in the trillions of dollars.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe we should elect someone to the highest office in the country, and to one of the most powerful singular positions in the world, because they've never run anything like it. Ever.
What do YOU think?
Love and Lyte,