It drives me up a wall when people eagerly bring up somebody’s lack of experience in politics as their best qualification for the role of president. Is there any other profession where potential customers value inexperience and lack of knowledge?

“I found this great dentist. She’s a total outsider to the field of dentistry, never went to any of those dentistry schools because how elitist is that? No, she’s one of us, regular folks. Never treated a tooth in her life. I’m having her do my root canal tomorrow.”

“This new plumber I hired is the best. Has zero knowledge of plumbing. He’s actually a professor of Spanish literature, so other plumbers perceive him as a total outsider. Now that he’s a plumber, he’ll really revolutionize the field of plumbing. How long has it been since we’ve had a plumber who is terrified of plumbing tools and hates water pipes?”

7 thoughts on “Outsiders”

  1. I see your point but the comparison to plumbers and dentists is not quite accurate. You have to undergo some sort of training or certification to be called a member of those professions.

    In politics, on the other hand, you need to have a great smile, good hair, and an ability to deliver sound bites effectively. Hollywood actor Ronald Fucking Reagan was a two term president, remember. Thick as a brick, and an outsider to politics as well!

    On second thoughts, scratch the ‘sound bites’ qualification. George Bush was a two term president, too.

    My problem with this ‘outsider’ rhetoric is that it is made by people who are pukka political insiders in their own states, but whine about being washington outsiders. In other words, they’re still stuck at the kiddie table and don’t like it one bit.

    Sarah Palin, corrupt governor of a mickey mouse state complaining about being a washington outsider in 2008. Yeah, you have my sympathies.


    1. He wasn’t exactly an outsider to politics, he had been politically active to the point of being head of the Screen Actors Guild, and you don’t get elected to said position by being a dummy:

      The president of SAG – future United States President Ronald Reagan – also known to the FBI as Confidential Informant “T-10”, testified before the committee but never publicly named names. Instead, according to an FBI memorandum in 1947: “T-10 advised Special Agent [name deleted] that he has been made a member of a committee headed by Mayer, the purpose of which is allegedly is to ‘purge’ the motion-picture industry of Communist party members, which committee was an outgrowth of the Thomas committee hearings in Washington and subsequent meetings . . . He felt that lacking a definite stand on the part of the government, it would be very difficult for any committee of motion-picture people to conduct any type of cleansing of their own household”.[7] Subsequently a climate of fear, enhanced by the threat of detention under the provisions of the McCarran Internal Security Act, permeated the film industry. On November 17, 1947, the Screen Actors Guild voted to force its officers to take a “non-communist” pledge. On November 25 (the day after the full House approved the ten citations for contempt) in what has become known as the Waldorf Statement, Eric Johnston, president of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), issued a press release: “We will not knowingly employ a Communist or a member of any party or group which advocates the overthrow of the government of the United States by force or by any illegal or unconstitutional methods.”



  2. It’s just another way to insert purity rhetoric into general discussions without referencing the physical chastity of candidates.

    “His mind is has not been penetrated by any political knowledge or experience. He is faithful to his nonthreateningly attractive wife, he’s 6’2″ , runs triathlons and loves puppies. If you vote for him you own him, dear voter. It’s like Pottery Barn or beer.”


  3. This is part of the ‘government as company’ model. A new president is sort of like a new outside hire who can sweep out the cobwebs and get things running ship shape!

    The problem is that it’s a badly flawed metaphor that doesn’t work.

    I knew of a university department that had the chance for an outside chair because they wanted a real change (the desire for change was all but chanted like a yoga mantra). As soon as the new outside chair tried to change something everybody started screaming bloody murder and he was out within a year to a less insane place and the next outside chair knew better than to try to change any of the things faculty said they wanted changed.

    It’s a little like that with the president. Everybody says they want change until things start changing. Also an outsider doesn’t have the connections and knowledge of how to get things done that an insider does. Jimmy Carter was an outsider president and got almost nothing useful done (compare with insider Lyndon Johnson who got tons of stuff done). Similarly Obama was a comparative outsider, who did he know in Washington? He mostly knew Chicago politicians (one of the lowest forms of life on the planet). And his foreign policy is as big a disaster as Carter’s.


    1. I wouldn’t even hire a handyman who has no experience in the trade. Yet we are seriously considering electing somebody with zero experience for a much more responsible position. I find that to be insane.


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