Have we, as a country, worked through the mistaken notion that a “businessman” will be a successful president? It was always a mystery to me why so many people thought this was a legitimate way to assess someone’s talent and ability to take on the massively difficult job of running the U.S. government.
Sure, entrepreneurial talent is valuable, but does it prove any real understanding of economics or even government? Businesses are competitive — that’s the whole point of a free-market economy, and that’s a good thing. But why do we believe the myth that success in business translates directly to competence in politics? It sounds like we think that politics is simple, that anybody can just get in there and fix everything just because he is the “outsider,” that he’ll come in and shake things up and get everything straightened out. We’ve lent legitimacy to the idea that success in politics comes from things like “common sense” and “American values,” and that’s absurd. This isn’t a family of four — it’s a country of 328 million.
Politics is extremely complex, and that’s what makes it interesting. And yes, there are the standard depictions of politicians as snakes, bottom feeders, knuckleheads, scammers, money-wasting scoundrels, crooks, etc., but there are businessmen who could fit into those categories too.
So let’s hope that we’ve learned our lesson that real estate familiarity can be helpful, but we might get a little closer to what we want if we take other qualifications into account, like political experience, education, general knowledge of history and government, years of service to our country, and yes, overall decency.