All of this talk in this presidential election cycle about who has the most experience to be president leaves me wondering when we developed an American nobility only from which can our candidates for president be chosen. When did some sort of ephemeral experience at being “presidential” become the prerequisite for being president?
Even more, what kind of experience qualifies someone to be president? We are electing someone to represent us, not rule us, the last time I checked. If some kind of executive-international experience is what qualifies someone to be president, then why is the last commander of Central Command not the universal candidate for president?
After all, since 1976, the man whose experience was arguably closest being presidential was George H.W. Bush, who was vice president for eight years and ran the CIA before that, and we only elected him for one term and replaced him with the licentious governor of Arkansas. The other three presidents in the same period were also governors whose résumés certainly beg the experience question.
From my view, there are two basic qualifications for my support for a presidential candidate.
The first qualification is Constitutional. My support is contingent on the candidate being a natural born citizen of the United States who is at least 35 years old and who resided in the United States for the past fourteen years.
The second qualification is that the candidate demonstrates the worldview, positions, and mettle I expect a president to demonstrate while in office. I believe discovering those qualities is what campaigns and journalists–when they bother to do their jobs–are supposed to accomplish.
Certainly, experience can help show how a candidate fulfills the second qualification, but such experience does not somehow pre-qualify a candidate to be president. Such pre-qualification is the stuff of monarchies, not democracy.
Therein lies the reason that I support John McCain for President of the United States, all the more so because he picked Sarah Palin as his running mate. Granted, neither of them is perfect, but as an aggregate on issues important to me and especially on my deal-breaking issue of foreign policy, their worldview, positions, and mettle proves to match my own views. Experience factors into my support for McCain only inasmuch as his history of service to his nation proves his qualification by my standards.
So, before you choose a candidate based on experience, consider what that experience really means. Frankly, Dick Cheney and Al Gore are eminently more qualified to be president by the experience measure, but who is going to vote for them? Instead, we should consider which candidate believes what we do about America and its future and pick that person to represent us for the next four years.
Cross-posted at A Host of Contributing Factors