This is addressed to those who believe the Republicans should not nominate a Presidential candidate who has little or no political experience. In particular, this is addressed to those who believe the failures of the Obama administration were caused by the President’s lack of political experience prior to his 2008 election, by the fact that his career in public office before his 2008 election to the presidency consisted of a mere 8 years in the Illinois State Senate and 4 years in the U.S. Senate, which left him insufficiently prepared for the U.S. presidency.

Mr. Obama’s experience in holding public office prior to the presidency (12 years) was greater than that of George Washington (2 years as President of the Constitutional Convention), greater than that of Abraham Lincoln (8 years in Illinois House of Representatives, 2 years in U.S. House of Representatives), greater than that of Ronald Reagan (8 years as Governor of California), and approximately the same as that of John F. Kennedy (6 years in the U.S. House, 6 years in the U.S. Senate). While it could be said that Washington, Lincoln, Reagan, and Kennedy each had a keen and active interest in politics before being elected to office, it appears that Barack Obama has been intensely involved in politics for many years – probably for most of his adult life.

It is submitted that Mr. Obama would not have been a better President, or even a different President, if he had had more experience in politics before assuming the presidency. It is the President’s political ideology that has defined his presidency and determined his goals, and he has been unwilling to compromise on those goals. He has refused to work with Congress in order to obtain even a modicum of bipartisan support for his agenda. If the President is no Reagan, no LBJ, in charming and manipulating the loyal opposition, it is not because he is lacking in charm, it is because he has no interest in compromising on his ideological goals.

If the Obama presidency may be viewed as a failure, the cause is not that he has been flawed as a politician or political leader, and it is not that he has been willing to ride roughshod over Congress both in proposing legislation (e.g., ObamaCare) and in directing the issuance of Executive Orders and agency regulations (e.g., “net neutrality”). His lack of finesse might have been excused if those laws, orders, and regulations had supported a more-moderate agenda or a more popular one.

But the President deliberately chose to pursue a shockingly-radical ideology and agenda for which there was little popular support. Consider the de facto nationalization of our healthcare system, our financial sector, and the Internet; the farcical pretense that 6 years were insufficient time to review the Keystone Pipeline; the refusal to enforce our immigration laws; the systematic dismantling of our armed forces; the indulging of Russia and Iran and Cuba while we treat Israel as an enemy instead of an ally; the toleration of Chinese bullying in the South China Sea; and the massive expansion of our national debt, nominally to “prime the pump” and stimulate an economic recovery that has never happened.

None of these actions enjoyed widespread popular support, none was a response to popular demand. This was not a matter of politics or political tactics; it was not a matter of the President’s having spent insufficient time as an elected legislator or governor. As most sentient Illinois residents knew, long before the 2008 election, this President is all about ideology – specifically, a political and moral ideology derived from Black Liberation theology rather than Christianity, from Saul Alinsky rather than the Founding Fathers, from Frank Marshall Davis rather than JFK.

Donald Trump may not be a conservative, or even a Republican, but his flaws as a Republican presidential candidate arise from his style and personality and temperament, his ignorance of the case for free markets rather than central planning, his open advocacy of an international trade-war, and his pugnacity on matters of national defense and border security. His flaws have little to do with his lack of experience in government. Indeed, that lack of experience is at the heart of his appeal. Carly Fiorina, another politically-inexperienced candidate, is clearly a Republican, though she may disturb some conservatives with the nature and depth of the “compassion” in her conservatism. But Ms. Fiorina’s flaws as a presidential candidate do not arise from her failure to have been elected to the U.S. Senate – or from her failure to win her battle over the control and direction of Hewlett Packard.

Political experience is no longer a positive credential, perhaps not even a relevant one. The country wants substance, good ideas, and the ability to communicate and lead.


  1. thoughtful,interesting and well stated as always. I gather the point of the essay,ie. that prior political experience is not essential, or maybe not even relevant to the ability of a president to do his job isn’t what you are really talking about. If I’m getting your point it is that Obama has been very effective in moving his agenda notwithstanding his relative lack of prior political experience.Your point (if I’ve understood it) is well taken. I can’t imagine that anyone paying attention fails to recognize the president’s immense political talents, but I’m not sure either of us will live long enough to know what history’s verdict on his administration will be. As for Trump he’s entitled to do whatever he wants to with his time and money, but I can’t imagine that even the Republican leadership is self destructive enough to allow his nomination to happen.

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