Whom Are We Hiring?

Welcome to 2010! A new year of politics, with the bonus of midterm elections. Just what you were hoping Santa would tuck into your stocking this Christmas, wasn't it?

All over the nation, political campaigns are underway. But why do we call them campaigns?

The word is invariably misused by politicians, as in "political campaign." They use the word to echo the image of a military operation, with all its accompanying patriotic fervor. The real goal of a political campaign is simply to get one elected. That's it. Just to get a person elected.

The simple fact is that politicians are just applying for a job. And it's a temp job, at that. Remember that: It's only temporary. 

Temporary. Short-term. Easy to replace.

Very few of us have ever run for office. But I am sure that most of us have at least once applied for a job. I know that I have. So we are all very familiar with that process.

In the real world, there are a lot of things that have to happen between seeing a "Help Wanted" ad and actually getting a paycheck.

First, each of us has to demonstrate that he has some applicable and worthy skill. Seems pretty reasonable, right? 

Second, we have to sit through at least one face-to-face interview. For some jobs, you have to go through a team interview. You know...the kind where there are a half-dozen managers asking questions and you have to deal with all of them. 

Sort of makes you think that the Christians in the Coliseum had it easy. 

And with the start of each interview, we've all worried about being blindsided by unexpected questions. But not once, at least in my experience, has anyone ever responded to a tough interview question by declaring it not only unimportant, but also a "distraction" from what he, the interviewee, wants to communicate.  Let's face it: In a real-world job interview, such a response would lead immediately to "Well, thanks for coming in, and we'll be in touch."

In addition to the face-to-face torture of the interview, job candidates are always required to provide transcripts from colleges that they have attended and copies of papers they have written that bear any relevance to the job they are trying to get, as well as names and contact information from past employers and character references. 

Finally -- and this is required by current federal law, not some racist-sexist-homophobic personal preference -- the applicant must prove that he or she is legally able to work in this country at the job being considered. And it's not just a matter of qualifications. There's a big difference between flipping burgers and working on a top-secret fighter plane for Boeing.

We have to insure that in the future, all candidates provide the same level of proof. I'm sure my Liberal/Progressive/Democrat friends will call me a "birther," but I'm simply saying that every office-seeker should have to jump through the same hoops that they force ordinary citizens to jump through.

So as we gear up to enjoy the spectacle of the blood sport that we call midterm electoral politics, we need to remember a few things:

  • This is not some sort of glorious campaign or holy crusade. Every one of the candidates, challenger or incumbent, is just looking for a job. Period. Treat all of them the same way you remember being treated when you looked for work.
  • Every candidate must respond to any and all questions. No evasions, no equivocation, and absolutely no implication that the question is merely a "distraction." That should get them a polite "Thanks for coming by, and we'll be in touch -- but don't call us, we'll call you." This same response should be triggered by any candidate saying "Are you serious? Are you serious?"
  • Every candidate should be able to show how his or her background, education and experience -- not his or her "vision" -- bestows the ability to do the job in question. If that means that we want to see a college transcript, then it had better show up instantly. Any attempt to fudge this will result in another "Thanks for coming by, and we'll be in touch" message.
  • We also have to look for evidence of qualification in the form of things that candidates have said and done in the past. Don't depend on what they say they've done -- check for yourself.
  • All incumbents should be considered guilty until proven innocent. Any claim of congressional experience should be treated as an admission to child molestation. Remember that these people need us, not the other way around. Keep in mind the words of Charles de Gaulle, a man with whom I rarely agreed, who said, "The cemeteries are full of indispensable men."

Not only do we have to remember these things, but also we have to convince the political class that this time, we're not kidding.

So let the games begin!
Welcome to 2010! A new year of politics, with the bonus of midterm elections. Just what you were hoping Santa would tuck into your stocking this Christmas, wasn't it?

All over the nation, political campaigns are underway. But why do we call them campaigns?

The word is invariably misused by politicians, as in "political campaign." They use the word to echo the image of a military operation, with all its accompanying patriotic fervor. The real goal of a political campaign is simply to get one elected. That's it. Just to get a person elected.

The simple fact is that politicians are just applying for a job. And it's a temp job, at that. Remember that: It's only temporary. 

Temporary. Short-term. Easy to replace.

Very few of us have ever run for office. But I am sure that most of us have at least once applied for a job. I know that I have. So we are all very familiar with that process.

In the real world, there are a lot of things that have to happen between seeing a "Help Wanted" ad and actually getting a paycheck.

First, each of us has to demonstrate that he has some applicable and worthy skill. Seems pretty reasonable, right? 

Second, we have to sit through at least one face-to-face interview. For some jobs, you have to go through a team interview. You know...the kind where there are a half-dozen managers asking questions and you have to deal with all of them. 

Sort of makes you think that the Christians in the Coliseum had it easy. 

And with the start of each interview, we've all worried about being blindsided by unexpected questions. But not once, at least in my experience, has anyone ever responded to a tough interview question by declaring it not only unimportant, but also a "distraction" from what he, the interviewee, wants to communicate.  Let's face it: In a real-world job interview, such a response would lead immediately to "Well, thanks for coming in, and we'll be in touch."

In addition to the face-to-face torture of the interview, job candidates are always required to provide transcripts from colleges that they have attended and copies of papers they have written that bear any relevance to the job they are trying to get, as well as names and contact information from past employers and character references. 

Finally -- and this is required by current federal law, not some racist-sexist-homophobic personal preference -- the applicant must prove that he or she is legally able to work in this country at the job being considered. And it's not just a matter of qualifications. There's a big difference between flipping burgers and working on a top-secret fighter plane for Boeing.

We have to insure that in the future, all candidates provide the same level of proof. I'm sure my Liberal/Progressive/Democrat friends will call me a "birther," but I'm simply saying that every office-seeker should have to jump through the same hoops that they force ordinary citizens to jump through.

So as we gear up to enjoy the spectacle of the blood sport that we call midterm electoral politics, we need to remember a few things:

  • This is not some sort of glorious campaign or holy crusade. Every one of the candidates, challenger or incumbent, is just looking for a job. Period. Treat all of them the same way you remember being treated when you looked for work.
  • Every candidate must respond to any and all questions. No evasions, no equivocation, and absolutely no implication that the question is merely a "distraction." That should get them a polite "Thanks for coming by, and we'll be in touch -- but don't call us, we'll call you." This same response should be triggered by any candidate saying "Are you serious? Are you serious?"
  • Every candidate should be able to show how his or her background, education and experience -- not his or her "vision" -- bestows the ability to do the job in question. If that means that we want to see a college transcript, then it had better show up instantly. Any attempt to fudge this will result in another "Thanks for coming by, and we'll be in touch" message.
  • We also have to look for evidence of qualification in the form of things that candidates have said and done in the past. Don't depend on what they say they've done -- check for yourself.
  • All incumbents should be considered guilty until proven innocent. Any claim of congressional experience should be treated as an admission to child molestation. Remember that these people need us, not the other way around. Keep in mind the words of Charles de Gaulle, a man with whom I rarely agreed, who said, "The cemeteries are full of indispensable men."

Not only do we have to remember these things, but also we have to convince the political class that this time, we're not kidding.

So let the games begin!

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