Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Why Experience Matters

What is the only job a person seeks where one touts inexperience as a qualification?

The answer is elected official. Almost every election you see people running for office emphasizing their lack of political experience. The notion is that being immersed in the political process for any period of time leads to the corruption of values and misguided goals that do not reflect what is in the best interests of the public. The idea is that "outsiders," in particular those without political experience, are the idea choice to come in and shake up the system. It is a position that has a lot of merit.

But there, unfortunately, is a flip side. Politics, like it or not, is a skill. While some are born with the skill, most develop it over years of political involvement. While immersing a non-politician into the political system can lead to fresh ideas, it also opens up the possibility that the non-politician will be exploited, used by those who have a better understanding of how politics works. One thing you learn quickly in politics is to be on guard against those who might befriend you in order to pursue an a agenda. To paraphrase President Harry Truman, "If you want a friend in politics, get a dog."

That is something that a politically savvy person immediately understands. That is not something, however, a political novice would necessarily understand.

We are blessed that Mayor Greg Ballard, as the ultimate outsider, can bring a fresh approach to the job. Unfortunately we are cursed that he does not have the experience to know that those friendly-appearing dolphins swimming around him are in fact sharks. Maybe he will learn, but time is growing shorter every day.


varangianguard said...

The Mayor is already claiming that history will look kindly on his efforts during the recent snows.

"Experience" tells me that people are far more likely to remember him abandoning his post during "combat" for warmer climes and swanky parties, -and- his DPW chief telling people to get out and shovel their own dang snow.

Plenty of material for the next election, I'm thinking.

Diana Vice said...

There's nothing worse than being let down by people you put your trust in.

Anonymous said...

The Ballard name will go done in history as the worst, most corrupt, naive mayor in history.