Contrary to what many seem to believe, the Founding Fathers didn’t spring full grown from the Liberty Bell on July 4, 1776. They had served in their various Colonial legislatures for years before the Declaration and held other offices, both elected and appointed. George Washington served in the Virginia House of Burgesses for 15 years before his two terms with the Continental Congress. Jefferson served 7 years alongside Washington in the Burgesses, two terms as Virginia’s Governor, two terms on the Continental Congress, body and then became the “establishment” Secretary of State, Vice President, and President for two terms in the nascent United States.
However, the anti-establishment cry to “throw them all out” – that men and women who have served the public for years should be replaced with untried political neophytes for no other reason than that they have served for years and are now considered “establishment” – has become an emotional, knee-jerk reaction that has nothing to do with any other quality or qualification of the candidates.
For example, my email is full of pleas to help Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who faces a recall election this week, alternating with demands to defeat Lt. Governor David Dewhurst of Texas in his race for US Senator. The complaint against Dewhurst is that he is “establishment” and a “professional politician.” There are no similar complaints against Governor Walker who has been in political office of one sort or another most of his adult life. In contrast, Dewhurst served in the Air Force, worked for the CIA, and built a very successful business before running for office in his 50’s. In addition, he’s no more “establishment” than Governor Walker, having led the Texas Senate to passage of the Defense of Marriage Act, Voter ID, de-funding Planned Parenthood, Jessica’s Law, defending our State and Nation’s border and cutting relative and actual dollars from the State budget.
When all the newly political activists got tired of yelling at their TV’s and jumped up off their couches and recliners to join our Taxed Enough Already (TEA) Party over the last 4 years, who welcomed them and gave them somewhere to start? It was the more seasoned of us in the Republican Party, since, at least until recently, virtually every Conservative was a Republican. If you look at the Tea Party, you will see the Conservative foundation, the remnant that have opposed “centrists” and “moderates” for years. We are the ones who have known all along what the Dems re-learn each election cycle, but some of our own never seem to: Americans are conservative, to the right of center.
In politics, as in the rest of life, “new” is not always “improved.” New candidates are not better than the incumbent just because they’re new any more than the old guys earn their promotions by merely sticking around. By the same token, long time Conservative leaders may or may not be more able to judge policy and candidates than newer or younger members of our group. But a record of experience and training is – or should be – considered an advantage, not a “dissed”-advantage.
Or, as my husband says, “Age and cunning trump youth and enthusiasm.” Every time.