This hopeless liberal’s examination of professions that best prepare people to serve as legislators and in other elected offices began when John Dunne (from Long Island not “no man is an island” Donne) once Republican majority whip in the New York Senate assigned the decline in legislative civility and productivity to not too many, but too few lawyers.
He said in more productive and decorous times a majority of legislators had been attorneys, whose education and profession rewarded skill in negotiation, compromise, conciliation, conflict resolution and knowledge of the law – how to make them, change them and what the fuck they actually mean. Dunne did not utter the expletive but went on to chronicle the growing number of doctors, farmers, dentists and astronauts in legislative chambers and the contemporaneous plummet in productivity.
Impressed by this, in 2012 H.L. looked into the M.D.s in Congress, led by the doctors Ron and Rand Paul and found the group of 19 (18 Republican) among the worst members of a largely dysfunctional Congress, then earning an approval rating of 11 percent from Americans. (To Cure the Dysfunctional Congress – Don’t Call the Doctors published January 12, 2012 and available on this cite under Op-Eds)
These men of science (one of the 19, Nan Hayworth, was a woman) never compromised, certain they always were right, generally were ignorant and contemptuous of civil rights and liberties and often were corrupt. Doctor/Congressman Tom Price’s scandal ridden tenure as Trump’s HHS Secretary ended after seven months with an inspector general recommendation that he send the U.S. $341,000 for some of his expenditures while in office. This blog predicted the course Dr. Price would chart in H.L. 6 Who’s Your Favorite Cabinet Nominee? Tom Price is Mine, 12/5/2016.
The exercise/experiment of electing butchers, bakers and candlestick makers to make laws truly albinos in comparison to our election of a real estate failure and successful reality show host to execute those laws. And you’d think liberal and other Democrats would have learned from this as they mount a multiyear effort to remove the Republicans in Congress and the Whitehouse. Instead they are nominating candlestick makers of their own.
They are putting forth a roster with many iron workers, firefighters, doctors, chemistry teachers and one breakout star in this questionably qualified group, where having never served in government (not elective, appointed nor civil service) is a badge of honor. She is the former bartender/taqueria waitress/children’s book publisher/Bernie organizer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Ocasio-Cortez’ purportedly breathtaking triumph in the NY 14 primary is less impressive after contemplation of the district’s demography and the truly breathtakingly bad form displayed by Rep. Joe Crowley, the incumbent she defeated. Rather than debate Ocasio-Cortez Crowley sent Latinas to act as his surrogates. That was not only insulting to the district’s voters but clearly a tactical and strategic blunder, since Ocasio-Cortez’ ignorance of some basics might well have been revealed during a debate.
In July, she told PBS that the reported unemployment rate of 3.9 percent was an underestimate caused by so many people having two jobs and people working 60, 70, and 80-hour weeks. A think piece. Jumping on the abolish ICE bandwagon, Ocasio-Cortez had to be corrected by Jeh Johnson, Obama’s Homeland Security Secretary, after she stated that ICE was required to nightly fill 34,000 beds with detainees. The requirement that ICE have available, but not necessarily fill, those 34K beds was eliminated in 2017.
Ocasio-Cortez, a self-styled “working class” candidate was reared by her architect father in the pervasively middle-class Yorktown Heights suburb of New York’s Westchester County. “In the Heights” where and when Ocasio-Cortez was raised, average family income was $137,580 way back in 2000, a decidedly upper middle-class community. But according to Ocasio-Cortez the “upper middle-class does not exist anymore in America.” Perhaps not in her mind or her conveniently altered background but in reality it seems to thrive. According to the prestigious and left leaning Urban Institute think tank, the ranks of the upper middle-class has grown from 12.9 percent of the American population in 1979 to 29.4 percent in 2014.
In NY 14 Ocasio-Cortez’ election this November is virtually automatic (knock wood) and she may learn on the job basic concepts and about speaking facts to power – now that truth has become subjective – as in the blatant liar speaking “his/her truth.”
But when Democrats get control again, as they will, it would be “a far far better thing” to have elected officials who know something and whose education and previous employment actually prepared them to govern intelligently and effectively.