As our department continues to struggle to fill a few mid-level positions (for the most part due to a lack of qualified applicants), I have been thinking about “experience” as it relates to choosing a President. Just how much and what kind of experience prepares one for this role? Does a particular type of experience or lack thereof disqualify one for the position? Unfortunately, I’m unable to draw a firm conclusion on this one. Here are a few considerations, though:

1 ) Vision – The President must have vision. Organizational success of any time is severely constrained absent a consistently promulgated vision.

2) Execution – The President is in charge of the biggest, most complex and confusing organization in the world. An organization with divisions in practically every continent. And that’s just his role as Commander-In-Chief. In addition, he makes appointments to tons of far-reaching posts (both the Executive Dept. and judges). Getting the right people in these posts and, in the case of Executive Dept. posts, holding the responsible parties accountable, is not a small task.

The first of my points does not require a certain type of experience, simply ideas. The second one, which I think whole “experience” argument is pointing towards, would surely be be aided by executive-type experience. Also, I think that relevant non-executive experience (such as legislative roles) is also important and should not be downplayed.

The linked article mentions the lack of executive-type experience in the Democratic Party. It also mentions the lack of success of senators in winning past elections when running against former governors. It fails to mention that in multiple cases the losing senator was running against an incumbent President. It also notes that all recent Presidents have stumbled significantly during their tenures, a very valid point that recognizes that no amount of experience will guarantee a flawless presidency.

As far as the current leading candidates go, I cannot say that I would disqualify any solely based on their lack of experience. However, if I had to choose one for such a disqualification, it would be Edwards (who seemed to be running for President from his first day as a Senator as opposed to actually being a Senator.) Of course, many Republicans are bringing out the “experience” factor and will likely continue to do so, depending on who their candidate is.

As I said, I was unable to draw firm conclusions on this one. Thoughts?


Experience Needed?

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