What Kind of Experience?

In the 2008 presidential campaign, there has been much discussion about which candidates have the most experience. John McCain criticized Mitt Romney’s lack of service experience as most of Romney’s experience was gained in business and “making profits” (as if that were a bad thing). John McCain, on the other hand, served his country in the Navy as a fighter pilot, as a representative, and as a Senator. John McCain has by far the most Washington experience than anyone remaining in the race, but does this in itself somehow make him more qualified to serve as president than his recently dispatched Republican rivals, Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama?

I think not.

On the Democrat side, we have Hillary Clinton criticizing Barack Obama’s lack of experience (this from a woman who has served in the U.S. Senate less than one term longer than the “inexperienced” Barack Obama). But if one were to compare their biographies side-by-side, one would see that their levels of experience are quite similar. Both have spent most of their careers in the legal profession and as activists and neither of them have any significant real-world business experience. Both also had a relatively easy path to the Senate (Hillary’s opponent was Rick Lazio after Rudy Giuliani dropped out of the race due to health problems and marital scandals; Obama’s opponent was the a completely unelectable carpet bagger Alan Keys after Obama’s original opponent was forced to drop out of the race because of a scandal). When it comes to actual legislative accomplishments, their combined resumes could fit on one side of a business card.

The lack of legislative experience seems to be the main criticism of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama from the right, but is this the right criticism?

I think not.

If one were to look at the legislative experience of all of the Libertarian Party presidential candidates, one would find that they are virtually non-existent (which should come as a surprise to no one since there are no elected Libertarians in the House or the Senate; most elected Libertarians are small town mayors and city council members). About the only “legislative accomplishment” one might be able to point to in the current field of Libertarian presidential candidates would be Steve Kubby’s successful efforts in 1996 to pass a citizen’s initiative in California called Proposition 215 which legalized the use of medical marijuana.

Does the lack of legislative accomplishments on the part of the Libertarian presidential candidates in itself disqualify any of them from being the next president of the United States?

I think not.

Actually, the accomplishments of many of the Libertarian candidates are quite impressive. Daniel Imperato is an international businessman who has worked in telecommunications, office building development, shopping malls, sports arenas, and is a consultant for Fortune 500 companies. Bob Jackson is an engineer, entrepreneur, and inventor. Jackson’s achievements in these areas are too numerous for me to list to keep this article readable. Wayne Allen Root is a self-made millionaire who made his fortunes on sports betting and in business. He’s considered by some to be one of the world’s best odds makers and prognosticators in sports (which he has also translated this success into picking winners in politics, business, and gaming). It seems to me that someone who knows how to manage businesses by managing risks by predicting outcomes would be a great fit as president.

As impressive as many of these accomplishments from real world experiences are, no one outside of libertarian circles has ever heard of any of these individuals or their accomplishments. If experience really mattered to the voting public, these individuals would at least receive some consideration.

Does this mean that candidates running for office, including president (especially president) are often supported by voters for arbitrary reasons which have absolutely nothing to do with experience?

I think so.

Rather than focus on what a particular candidate’s past experience, maybe we should instead focus on what we will all experience if his or her policy proposals are realized.

  • TerryP

    I think you also just made a case for Ron Paul to be our President as he has the best stance on the issues of anyone that even remotely has a chance of being elected.

    He even brings business experience in running his medical practice and political experience with his number of years in Congress and being on numerous congressional commitees. He also served our country in the military.

    He has the experience and he is the best on the issues. Vote Ron Paul.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/ Brad Warbiany


    Would you say he has more experience and/or is better on the issues than Libertarians such as Wayne Allen Root? If so, what do you base that on?

  • UCrawford


    Having great ideas is certainly important, but it’s equally or even more important to have the ability to convince a majority of voters that your ideas are worth implementing, the bargaining skills to convince others in power to help you achieve those goals, and the managerial competence to appoint the right people to carry them out. Those are things that comprise good experience and they’re essential for a leader.


    With all due respect, Ron Paul didn’t have any of those qualities.

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/author/stephen/ Stephen Littau


    All of the qualities you mentioned are more important in my view than legislative experience and at least as important as real world experience.

  • Frank

    Whoever wrote this article did very little background work. Wayne Root isn’t an oddsmaker. An oddsmaker sets the lines that the public bets into. Wayne Root runs a telemarketing handicapping site where he has had very little success picking winners. According to the sportsmonitor.com that tracks Mr. Root’s selections he’s less than 50% and well below what is considered a successful prognosticator. FYI, you need to hit above 52.4% to break even. He is one of the most well known in that seedy industry only because he buys time a la his imnfomertial television and radio shows.

  • TerryP


    I don’t know a thing about Wayne Allan Root other than that he is running for the nomination for the Libertarian Candidate for President. Nobody else knows anything about him either except for a handful of libertarians. As I said in my passage I was talking about candidates that even remotely have a chance and Root doesn’t fit that category in my book. In some peoples eyes neither does Paul, but he has gained far better name recognition than any Libertarian candidate, including Root. He has been in national debates and has pulled far more votes than any current libertarian candidate could even dream of. I will agree, however, that if Ron Paul is not a potential selection than I will likely vote for the Libertarian candidate.


    I was responding to the article in which it finished by saying “maybe we should instead focus on what we will all experience if his or her policy proposals are realized.” This talked about nothing you brought up. Stephen said we should focus on what would happen if the policy proposals were realized. I pointed out that Ron Paul’s policy proposals were better than the other candidates. So what you are telling me is that Hillary, McCain, and Obama are better on their policy proposals then what Paul is? Again Stephen never mentioned anything you brought up so quit changing the subject. If you want to talk about those things that is fine but that is an entirely different subject than what would happen if their policy proposals were realized. I will actually agree with you that Paul is not the best in the areas you described but most people who are pretty good at what you described, at least in the political scene, are corrupt to the bone. That is how they got good at it. I will also agree with you that the qualities you mentioned are important in a leader but I will remind you that those were not what the article came to a conclusion that we should look at. Lastly, if those are the qualities you look at in a candidate then the Libertarian party has never had anyone worth voting for. So that leaves you with the democratic candidate and McCain. Which of those is better in the qualities you described? I assume then that is the person that you will be voting for. For me I will still take the candidate that is better on the issues over the other three who may be better in actually getting their wrong stand on issues forced upon us. I would rather have someone who is right on the issues but can’t get them enacted than who is wrong on the issues but can get them enacted. At least we wouldn’t continue moving further in the wrong direction.

  • TerryP


    The more I think about it, the more I think you are completely wrong. I believe a presidential candidates stance on the issues is far more important than what you described above, which I will boil down to being able to get your ideas implemented.

    Let’s look at this in a simplistic manner but on four axes. One side will be being right on the issues. The opposite side will be wrong on the issues. The other axes will be able to get your ideas implemented on the one side and not able to on the other side.

    I think we can all agree that the best scenario would be being right on the issues and able to get them implemented. Here is where we seem to disagree. My second best position (actually probably a tie with third) would be to be right on the issues but unable to get them implemented. The third best would be wrong on the issues but unable to get them implemented. Coming in last by far would be wrong on issues but able to implement them.

    What you described as the qualities needed in a leader are pretty much every President we have had in history. The problem, however, has been that at least over the last 75 yrs or so most of the Presidents have been wrong on the issues, including the leading three this year. This has brought our country on the brink of bankruptcy and closer and closer to socialism/facism or whatever you want to call it. I would much rather have taken a President who was right on the issues but unable to get them implmented then what we have gotten in Presidents who were wrong on the issues but able to get their ideas implemented. If we would have focused more on their stance on the issues than if they could get them implemented we would be far better off today. I would say the same about this years race.

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/ Brad Warbiany


    As I said in my passage I was talking about candidates that even remotely have a chance and Root doesn’t fit that category in my book.

    I thought the Paul supporters are suggesting that we should be voting for the best man for the job, not “compromising” and voting to try to be a part of the “winning team”. I thought that was the argument against other people who might vote for a “more electable” Republican than Ron Paul.

    If the question is who has the best experience, is best on the issues, and is most competent to manage the office, again I’d ask what evidence you have to suggest that Wayne Allen Root (who will likely be on the ballot in November, while Ron Paul will not) is less qualified than Ron Paul?

  • http://thelibertypapers.org/ Brad Warbiany


    I can’t exactly answer for UC, but I think that neither he, nor Doug, nor I wish to see McCain, Hillary, or Obama in the Oval Office. You are correct when you say that they’re flat wrong on the issues and may even be able to implement them.

    However, depending on the situation, winning the battle can cause you to lose the war, and vice versa.

    As an example, look at Bush. Bush and the Republican Congress have basically discredited conservatism in a way that will damage the entire conservative movement for at least a decade. His ability to sell himself as a conservative but then implement statist economic policies, all while acting like a religious bigot and panderer of the highest order, have ensured that we are almost guaranteed Democrat rule of the White House and both houses of Congress come January 2009.

    What will happen if Ron Paul came into under the mantle of freedom, then proceeds to be a useless and ineffective leader who gets steamrolled by Congress and tossed out after one term? He’ll be blamed for all the bad things Congress does, will inherit a recession (that like most Presidents, he’ll be blamed for even if it’s Bush’s fault), and may damage the freedom movement in the process.

    Goldwater ignited a movement but wasn’t the one who carried the torch. Ron Paul doesn’t seem to have the skills to carry the torch on this one, why not simply allow him to be the match, and find a better torch-bearer?

  • TerryP


    I really don’t know enough about Mr. Root to have an opinion about him. You may be entirely right that he is better on the issues. The problem is that almost nobody knows about him so they have no clue about where he actually stands on the issues.

    I actually agree with you that I don’t think that Ron Paul will be able to carry the torch but if enough of us vote for him he will be able to ignite a movement much like Goldwater. If enough of us just decide to not vote for him, vote for someone else, or not vote at all that could easily put out the light that he lit. I would love to see him be the Goldwater of our day and someone better actually take us to the point of getting elected much like Reagan took the torch from Goldwater and actually got elected.

    I am looking at this more about moving the movement forward. Ron Paul lit a fire and really started moving it forward. I would hate to see our movement die out because so many people drop out because he just didn’t get enough votes or they are persuaded to not vote for him by people such as people at this site because they want you to vote for someone who can get their goals implemented. Who cares if they can get them implemented if they won’t get elected. The stand on the issues and ability to be heard by a huge number of voters is what counts in this case. The libertarian candidates fall down on the second part of this as they are not able to get their message across through big and small media to that many people. While Ron Paul possibly is not as good as the other libertarian candidates on the issues he is still pretty good and he has had a national stage to be heard through debates and through big media.

  • TerryP


    You are almost talking like you think Ron Paul has a pretty good chance of being elected. I do not think he has much of a chance, but what I do think he has is a national stage to talk about ideas and in voting for him showing that these ideas still have value in America.

    I really want to keep the match lit until another, better candidate comes along to flame the fire and I think the chances of doing that are better with the more votes Ron Paul gets.

  • TerryP


    You also mentioned Bush and he is exactly the type of candidate that fits what UC said we should be looking for in a leader. Just as you said, look what happened. I would much prefer Ron Paul who doesn’t fit UC’s defintion and maybe we would have a better outcome.

    I agree that whoever wins this year will likely end up with a terrible mess of an economy and very well could be booted out in four years because everything they do will make things worse. To be quite honest four years from now may actually be a better time to get a freedom oriented person elected as hopefully we will be able to turn a corner on our economy by then and possibly we will be even more sick of being in the middle east after another four years.

  • Dan Hill

    I think everyone here has it wrong. Ron Paul and Wayne Allen Root are both batting for team liberty. Ron Paul is a life long member of the Libertarian Party, and Wayne Allen Root spent most of his years donating to the Republican Party. They both see what’s happened to this country and are fighting to save it. And that’s all there is to it. We should be supporting all defenders of the constitution. If Ron decides not to run after the Republican national convention than I think Wayne is the logical next step. We are going to need many more leaders than just Paul if we expect to ever win the battle for liberty. That’s been the message of Paul all along. Even if Paul won he would need many more leaders to restore the Republic. Furthermore we can do both. We can work within the Republican Party to change it as well as support the Libertarian Party becoming a significant alternative to the two party system. Paul’s been doing that for 30 years. He has fought inside the Republican Party while at the same time donating significant amounts of money to the Libertarian Party. We must have a multi-line approach if want to take back our country. Fighting between ourselves isn’t much a start in the right direction.