The polispeak on experience
Experience. It is defined as to have firsthand knowledge of states, situations, emotions, or sensations. In politics it is the difference between the records of one politician and another, allegedly. In the political world, having secondhand or peripheral knowledge is equal to firsthand. And that is enough to get elected on.
Amazing isn’t it. That is to say if you are married to a scientist that cures a disease, you too are qualified as an expert. The fact you know nothing about the subject besides knowing co-workers and colleagues only adds to your experience.
Imagine writing a resume and saying that
“My brother (or whomever) worked as a certified electrician and I went with him on jobs for several years. So I am applying for work as a certified electrician.”
Your application/resume would be thrown in a dumpster. That’s the real world that most Americans live in.
But if you are a politician, you live in a world that is separate of the real one. A world in which osmosis and standing next to important people is just as good as doing something. Want to get popular and you’re an unknown, stand next to a movie star. Want to seem important, get seen talking to a famous politician or dignitary (even if the actual conversation was about how they like their coffee).
For those that would scoff at this, or wonder how it applies to Presidential politics consider the current argument between Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama. Both claim to have international experience. In fact neither does.
For Senator Obama, the fact is that 4 years lived overseas as a pre-adolescent is not political experience. I submit that it can and does broaden life experience and that it can help to widen views about different cultures. But that’s about it.
I mean I spent a year and a half in Moscow, witnessed the coup attempt on Michial Gorbechev and the start of the civil war in Soviet Georgia firsthand. That does not qualify me as an expert in coups, civil wars, Soviet politics, revolutions, or Russia. But if I were running for political office you can bet your ass that it would be a confirmation written in stone that I have international experience.
Looking at the facts of the matter, according to how politicians equate experience, I have more experience than Senator Obama (I was 23 while in Moscow) and arguably Senator Clinton.
For Senator Clinton, there is no question that as First Lady she visited several nations and met with several dignitaries. That is fact. Of course she never discussed the politics of America with these Heads of State. That was the job her husband, President Bill Clinton did.
Do the spouses of leaders of nations have influence? On fashion trends, absolutely. On whether there will be sanctions against terrorist nations, no. That’s just a fact. No one asked First Lady Clinton how America should deal with export taxes, or Qadafi, or the no-fly zone over Iraq. Because she had no influence, power, or experience in the matter. Whether President Clinton spoke to her about these matters or not, it’s not experience.
In the same manner that First Lady Bush (either), Carter, Reagan, Ford, or Nixon had any experience because of the office their husbands held. So of the 8 years of Executive Office experience Senator Clinton claims, none is really valid except a short period of time when she tried and failed miserably to reform healthcare. A miserable failure that arguably was because she had no influence or political power/experience. She doesn’t have 15 years of political experience, because if including the time that President Clinton served counts so should his time as Governor, which she does not include (rightly).
So for all the hogwash that’s being spun out there, the fact is I and many Americans have more real firsthand knowledge of international politics and events. Those Americans do not include the Presidential candidates. It may sound great for a soundbite, but it’s just polispeak and another cheap way to buy your vote.