I hear this all the time: “I’m tired of politicians. I want someone real, someone like me, someone from outside that world—I’m not voting for a politician.”
I can understand, to an extent, those who are tired of “career politicians.” They’re tired of those who sound too polished, too smooth, and coached. They’re tired of people who don’t just “tell it like it is,” who are so balanced and cautious in their words, they offend no one and try to play both sides of any issue. They are also skeptical of those who have been in office too long and who’ve lost touch with the “real” world. I get it.
It’s probably the reason some voted for Trump—people who otherwise would have never even considered it. This link speaks to that phenomena. From the link:
Mark Cuban: “One of my friends in Texas explained it to me best when I said, ‘Look, I know this guy, he’s not smart. He only cares about himself. He’s going to put himself ahead of the country, which effectively is what he’s done. I said, ‘Why are you voting for him?’”
“He goes to me, ‘I’ve been voting for politicians my entire life. You know what they’ve done for me? Nothing. You know the definition of insanity. I’m not voting for a politician.’ That I think is what Donald walked through and what Donald walked into.’”
“I don’t think (Trump) created a movement. I think he found a movement and rode it.”
I don’t know that Trump “found” this movement more than he probably stumbled into it, but regardless, the timing was perfect. We now know that Trump wasn’t really interested in being president and never thought he would win. He was doing it to get his name and “brand” out there to leverage into future real estate or media deals.
We now know he’s been hemorrhaging money for decades and owes people close to a billion dollars, which is coming due soon. As his former attorney, Michael Cohen, has now admitted, the 2015-16 run for the presidency was a big infomercial and no one expected Trump would actually win. Even they didn’t think most voters would be that reckless.
Even if it was Mr. Magoo like, he did win the electoral college, if not the popular vote. He won because small margins in three states gave him the electoral college majority. We may never know, but it could be those small margins were made up of people like Cuban’s friend. They wanted someone like Trump, who wasn’t a career politician–someone who wasn’t polished or measured in their words nor actions.
Here’s the deal. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that I doubt Cuban’s friend is someone being paid minimum wage or even someone making the average annual salary in America, which is about $50k. If his friend is making much more than that, let’s say $100k or more per year, then exactly what is it this person wants “politicians” to do for them?
Normally people making that much money have health insurance. They own homes. If they are prudent and fortunate, they are not living paycheck to paycheck. They have a savings and 401k. So, what’s the problem?
I think the problem is something else. It’s something cultural and ideological. It may even be nostalgic and racial. Perhaps even religious.
For those who are part of the working class, who make minimum wage or $50k annually or less, what were their reasons for voting for Trump? We know that most white males, without college degrees, voted for Trump (64% to 28%). Why?
Honestly, I think they did for the same reasons as those making a lot more and not having the same financial worries. I think it was because of cultural, ideological, nostalgic (“Make America Great Again”), racial, and religious reasons.
In my opinion, this idea that a non-politician, either a plain-speaking regular Joe or a successful businessperson, celebrity, or personality would serve us better is a myth. Why would we think their “success,” whatever it might be, would translate as to grasping political philosophy, foreign policy, economics, history, or legislation? Too often the so-called champion of the “common person,” is a populist con. Guess what? They saw you coming.
Here’s something: Quit giving your power away to people who will just use you. They already think you are ignorant and naïve, don’t continue to prove them right.
Look, regardless of whether a person has a college education, or whether they’re a career politician, or “successful,” the supreme test for political leadership should be character. Is this person honest and authentic? Do they exhibit integrity, honor, humility, and ethical actions? Are they kind and empathetic? How do they think about, or treat, the “least of these?” Are they wise? Intelligent?
Second, has the person demonstrated leadership in whatever sphere of life they came from? Did people want to follow them? Did they do so out of respect…or a paycheck? How do the people who worked with them in the past, talk about them now?
Don’t look for a regular Joe, personality, celebrity, or entrepreneur just because they “tell it like it is,” or sound like your bartender (nothing against them, many are indeed wise!).
Further, don’t look down on those who can string a complete sentence together and are articulate. If you think someone is speaking over your head, rise higher, don’t blame the speaker. Pick up an effing book. And don’t look down on those who have spent their lives in public service; the people they represent could have voted them out. They didn’t.
Look for the person of character who’s a recognized leader (regardless of their career history). Look for the statesperson (remember those?). Look for the person who will make us rise, who will challenge us (even name our flaws), make us reflect, and be better citizens. Go with that person, even if you don’t agree with them on every issue. Could that person be a regular Joe, successful entrepreneur, or even a career politician? Of course. But none of those histories should ultimately matter.
In my opinion, the whole “career politician” objection is a ruse, a distraction. So too, the “I want the average person or “successful” person, rant- as it too often (without a hint of self-awareness) is code for: “I want someone as ignorant as me,” or, “My view of ‘success’ is very shallow.” Either is entirely backassward (and scarily revealing) for choosing a political (any?) leader.
Rather, ask if the person is or could be a statesperson. Ask if you would trust this person with your security, family, job, finances, and the well-being of the country.
No candidate is perfect. I’m not suggesting perfection as the goal. The point remains:
Character should trump political ideology or career history.
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