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“Career Politicians Need Not Apply”: Scott Walker’s 2016 Bid Floundered Because He’s Done Little In Life But Run For Office

A Google news search for Scott Walker this week scoops up endless pundit theories about why he didn’t quite make it as a presidential candidate – from his “boring” personality to his various gaffes or lack of foreign policy expertise. Each theory misses the larger point: Scott Walker is a career politician. And Republican voters’ job description for presidential candidates is pretty clear at this point: Career politicians need not apply.

Walker first ran for public office when he was 22 years old. He first won a race for the state legislature at the age of 25; he has held elective office ever since.

The political establishment sees this type of professional history as a good resume. Regular people see it as a little weird.

It reminds me of something my father used to say when he was a state legislator (in the Vermont House, for two, two-year terms) – he always derisively called his legislative paycheck “my welfare check.” As a bedrock conservative, he was fairly uncomfortable being paid by Vermont’s taxpayers. After all, one of the reasons he ran for office in the first place was his desire to lower taxes and reduce the size of government. Being part of the government made him a little squirmy. I think that’s a good thing.

I recall my father easing his discomfort during the legislative session by refusing to draw a paycheck from the small business he owned and operated, even though he was almost certainly putting 40 hours (or more) a week into his business (at night and on the weekends) while he served the people of his district during the week.

This approach is what’s known as being a citizen legislator. It’s what the founders envisioned and it’s what many voters are so ready to return to in 2016.

The near-entirety of Walker’s adult income has been courtesy of the taxpayers of Wisconsin. There is something inherently not-very-conservative about that. Similarly, making a case for limited government is less believable when a candidate also lists one of his greatest accomplishments as getting re-elected.

In last week’s debate, when describing why professional politicians don’t seem to grasp the voters’ anger and frustration with the ongoing dysfunction of government and politics, Carly Fiorina pointedly said: “A fish swims in water; it doesn’t know it’s water.” This season’s anti-establishment voters love that kind of talk. Walker is a fish, and a critical mass of Republican voters knew it and/or sensed it. (His poll-tested, focus-grouped, GOP-talking-points style of rhetoric was a pretty good indication that the guy hadn’t spent much time out of the water.)

Walker’s more dynamic, bright peer on the presidential stage has also been a bit of a fish: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. I like Rubio very much, but worry that his time swimming in government water will also hold him back in this early Republican season of anti-professional-politician sentiment. Watch for critiques from the professional political class about Rubio’s age. For frustrated Republican voters right now, age isn’t the issue. It’s the raw percentage of one’s adult life that has been spent in the waters of politics and government.

Poor Jeb Bush has it the worst, as his heritage means he’s been in politics since he first drew breath. This is at the core of why Jeb is struggling in Republican contest polls.

Even on the Democratic side, there is a similar anti-professional-politician sentiment, which helps explain Hillary Clinton’s sagging poll numbers; people are just tired of the same old, same old from the Clinton political machine.

The job of the pundit class is to dissect political failure and accomplishment, but at some point this cycle, they will have to dissect their own perspective and get in closer touch with what so many voters are thinking and feeling at this pivotal moment in our history. Let’s start with this fact, made crystal clear by Walker’s failed bid: A net worth made of taxpayer dollars is not a qualification, but instead may be a black mark on a presidential job application. Fish need not apply.

 

By: Jean Care, Thomas Jefferson Street Blog, U. S. News and World Report, Septemer 24, 2015

September 25, 2015 - Posted by | Career Politicians, GOP Presidential Candidates, Scott Walker | , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. I think Walker came out to fanfare and then deflated his own balloon with gaffes, changes in positions and not pushing back on Trump in an intelligent way.

    Like

    Comment by Keith | September 25, 2015 | Reply


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