When will we learn?

Published 8:07 am Wednesday, September 7, 2011

To the Editor:

When will we learn?

A week or so ago, in its “Stroller” column, the Spartanburg Herald-Journal published a letter from someone who observed that the candidates who campaign for public office are, in effect, engaging in a job interview to determine if we, the voters, want to “hire” them to serve us.

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That’s right; they’re to be our employees, not their subjects. That’s a good, but too-often-overlooked point that the writer wanted to make emphatically clear.

In any other contemplated employee/employer relationship, the very first quality to look for in a prospective candidate is if he/she can do the work required for the job. What hands-on experience has he/she had? What are his/her tangible accomplishments? And does he/she have any virtuous personal qualities that could be beneficial to the employer?

In any real-life employment interview, there would be, of course, many other legitimate questions to be able to fully evaluate the candidate’s competence, experience, integrity and character before he/she would be hired.

But what about public office? Why doesn’t/shouldn’t/can’t the election (hiring) process work the same way?

I really can’t understand why voters elect people who have had absolutely zero experience or who cannot offer any evidence of accomplishment that would qualify them to effectively govern at any level, including the office of the president of the United States of America.

Incidentally, the same failing prevails outside of politics.

Have you ever asked a lifeguard if he can swim? Or an airline pilot if he knows how to fly? Or a surgeon if he has ever performed the procedure he’s about to perform on you?

Probably not, because these people have standards to meet before they’re hired. Some agency examines their credentials and “certifies” their competence.

Regrettably, not so with politicians.

The country is in a terrible state and at this point, it serves no purpose whatsoever to “blame” anyone, the Democrats or the Republicans, Bush or Obama.

It’s “our” problem, the electorate!

We must elect true public “servants” who can be held to the highest possible professional (and personal) standards, people of substance rather than “celebrities,” people who have a record of proven accomplishment rather than those who simply “talk” a good game. The serious, complex – indeed, unprecedented – problems the country faces cannot be solved by unproven “amateurs,” no matter how well-intentioned.

When will we learn how to elect folks whom we know have the capacity, experience and integrity to do the job required?

– Bill Wuehrmann, Tryon