By VISHESH SHARMA, junior
Traditionally, the leaders we revere the most have been those who come from backgrounds similar to ours. Likewise, political outsiders have cast themselves as underdogs arising from the same level as the common citizen, in the hopes of winning based on their appeal to the masses.They attempt to make up for their lack of political experience by indicating that they can apply the skills learned in their previous occupations to their future political office. What has made the 2016 presidential race unique is the sheer amount of political outsiders campaigning for presidency; individuals ranging from neurosurgeon Ben Carson to real estate magnate Donald Trump are taking on career politicians, and in many cases, overshadowing them. Although these key players attempt to make their outsider status seem like a boon that will help fix the nation, their ineffective abilities would accomplish quite the opposite.
Political outsiders running for president isn’t an entirely new concept; Ulysses S. Grant and Jimmy Carter were outsiders known to rally audiences disgruntled by political turmoil. Historically, voting political outsiders such as Grant and Carter into office has led to a number of major crises. When Jimmy Carter became president after the infamous Watergate scandal, the nation had begun to grow skeptical of the government and Washington insiders, a mindset that is similar to the position of several factions of the United States even today. Washington insiders were seen as self-interested bureaucrats uncaring for the nation’s stability, and outsiders were depicted as white knights who could return the country to its prior state of exceptionalism. This lack of trust bred major political consequences: Carter’s lack of political experience proved him incapable of dealing with other politicians with differing ideas and ideaologies. Political outsiders today may cause the same issues; if they are elected, they face problems compromising with more experienced politicians. While the voters may be content with what Trump, Carson, and Fiorina have to say and what each has to offer, results are reflected among the political atmosphere created by the politicians themselves. If politicians do not respect their coworkers, or even their nation’s leader, how can the country expect them to work together? Congress is already as inactive as it is, despite being run by politicians with decades of experience.
The president alone cannot ensure that the country is run smoothly; it is the system of checks and balances between all branches of government that ensures a stable country. As proved in recent years, the government cannot function if the executive branch and the legislative branch refuse to compromise on certain issues. This problem would only be exacerbated by the unique stances as well as personalities that are campaigning for office. How would we ever be able to get Trump to agree with Congress on anything? Respect and tolerance are required to debate people with different politics; if Trump cannot give this same respect in public settings, how can the nation expect him to give respect to the politicians during private meetings in Washington? Even Bernie Sanders, the self-proclaimed “democratic socialist”, could have difficulty compromising with more conservative politicians in Congress.
Personal political beliefs aside, these individuals do not possess the political “know-how” to ensure our country’s prosperity. Sure, Trump may have written The Art of The Deal, and Fiorina may have been a part of countless negotiations during her time at Hewlett-Packard, but they do not know how to make the decisions on a national level. There are several factors other than finance that must be taken into account, ranging from security to social equality, and these factors should only be addressed by individuals with experience and influence. Namely, all of the Washington outsiders are lacking in foreign policy. The closest thing that these candidates have attained in terms of foreign policy experience was Carly Fiorina’s alleged friendship with the Israeli Prime Minister. The past eight years, a Washington outsider with minimal foreign policy experience has held presidential office. Although President Obama attempted to mollify the situation by appointing Joe Biden as his Vice President, according to the Wall Street Journal, 52 percent of Americans disapprove of Obama’s foreign policies. Furthermore, Obama has been criticized for his lack of definite action in the Middle East, as well as his handling of the NSA leak. Sanders, Fiorina, Carson, and Trump, without a doubt, are not likely to do any better.
The skills that these outsiders have acquired over the years are not applicable to a political career. Indeed, their skills themselves need to be called into question. Donald Trump, who is currently at the top of the polls, had businesses file for bankruptcy countless times over the course of his career. And although Carly Fiorina’s professional manner captivated voters during the first Republican debate, she is running solely on her achievements as the Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett-Packard, of which she was labeled by CNN Money as one of the worst CEOs ever. Her track record is sub-par at best, and her business achievements, or lack thereof, does not make her qualified to lead America. Her unfamiliarity with politics has left her at odds with her own party. Ben Carson has even less to boast about. While being a neurosurgeon and a longstanding hospital director is indeed a noble profession, it by no means prepares someone for the intense atmosphere present in the job of the president; his profession does nothing to ready himself for such a weighty job.
Furthermore, these candidates seem intent on alienating their own parties. Perhaps the most prominent of these, surprisingly, is Ben Carson himself. Number two in the polls, he has raised more than a few eyebrows because of his lurid comments regarding gun control. His radical views and comments about religion and arms infringe on moral boundaries. For instance, Carson recently stated he would never support a candidate of Muslim faith in the candidacy, and that the people of the Jewish faith could have prevented the Holocaust had they owned guns. His remarks are so obstinate in nature that members of his own and other parties will not respect and will not propel him to any success in the political environment. Correspondingly, all of the Republican outsiders are having problems amassing support from their respective parties. For example, Trump was a proclaimed liberal just a few years ago and had funded the Clinton campaigns as well. Although it is not a sin to support another’s bid for presidency, his lack of fidelity to one political group has made Republicans skeptical of his true intentions and political leanings. On the other hand, many of Fiorina’s radical positions on current issues, ranging from abortion to drug decriminalization, are unfriendly to most traditional Republican voters; this incongruity proves that she does not have the staying power to guarantee a strong performance in this race. With the lack of full support from their party, these three will be struggling for the Republican bid for the Presidential election.
If an outsider is elected, the country will see history repeat itself. Being an outsider can only promote positive ideologies to an extent. If one of the three most popular Republican candidates at the moment is elected into office, his or her lack of experience, ability to compromise, and radical stances will result in an impasse in our government worse than before. By pitting one side of the government against another, we, as voters, would be shackling our country to four more years of turmoil. As citizens reaching voting age, it is imperative that we analyze the stances and past experiences of these candidates. We may be able to relate to these outsiders, as we too are outsiders to politics, but this relationship does not mean that they can run the nation. The appeal of an outsider is definitely very high, but only for the short amount of time he or she isn’t in office. We need to look past what each candidate seems to be on the outside, and understand what electing each means for the country.
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