Have your children ever told you that when they have children, down the road, they will make different choices than you have? That sentiment might be expressed when you ban a piece of clothing or issue an early curfew or it might be a reflective comment on the presence or lack thereof of sports, art classes or camping trips. At the ages these words are uttered, children don’t yet understand that parents would be delighted for their children to surpass them. They also don’t understand the realities of being a parent which is why the spoken or unspoken rejoinder frequently is, “Wait till you have kids of your own.”
While we can smile at the remark of a ten year old, the mentality of being smarter and more capable than those before whom we should be humble is less appealing in our politicians. This is why the most disturbing aspect of the entire Weiner imbroglio may have been captured by a paragraph on politico.com.
Several sources with ties to the couple said the immediate problem for Weiner is a lack of income, especially with his first child on the way. He started working in politics right out of college, and has never worked as anything but a staffer or elected official, lacking private sector experience on his resume that will let him do much beyond being an elected official.
Pardon me not feeling sympathy for a man who degraded his office and will nonetheless get a pension, but those words highlight a serious problem. When a politician who, despite no business experience, is placed into an office where the votes he takes and policy decisions he makes impact millions of hard-working Americans, our country is at risk. Weiner is one of many officials with similar resumes, including those with more powerful positions than that of congressman. Ideas which sound good in theory but don’t work in the real world are implemented by those who have never entered the real world.
I can smile at a seven year old who tells me, “When I’m a mommy I’m not going to tell my children when to go to bed,” or at a nine year old who says, “When I’m a daddy I’m going to always be available to play games with my children.” Years of maturing await them and the precious early years once they have a child will present plenty of time for a learning curve.
Not so with politicians. Once in office they can immediately implement ideas which cause businesses to close and jobs to be lost. The Congressional Record from June, 1992 contains an article penned by Senator George McGovern, after he had left Congress and (unsuccessfully) attempted to run an inn. The title, “A Politician’s Dream is a Businessman’s Nightmare,” tells the story in shorthand. Two sentences sum up the lesson. “I (also) wish that during the years I was in public office, I had had this firsthand experience about the difficulties business people face every day. That knowledge would have made me a better U.S. senator and a more understanding presidential contender.” McGovern’s self-examination and honesty were wonderful, but we are still electing those without firsthand experience.
There are Americans who will vote for whomever promises them the most and who have no compunction about destroying our wonderful country as long as they get theirs now. I don’t believe that most of the electorate falls in this category. But even good people fall victim when words like “fairness,” “compassion”, “help,” “children,” or “equality” are invoked, even if the ideas to which they are linked bring misery when they are translated from dreams to reality.
Without a strong economy there is no future for social policies or successful grappling with foreign policy. Senator McGovern’s revealing words should be highlighted as a warning against those candidates who offer over-reaching, grand plans. Meanwhile, if the sources on politico.com are credible, they suggest that the biggest embarrassment of the entire Weiner affair may belong to the voters rather than to the recently departed congressman.