Is Governmental Experience Really Necessary to Run the Nation?

Posted: September 10, 2019 | By: Mallory McQueen Tagged: Blog

The election of our current president, Donald Trump, really got people around the country talking for a multitude of reasons, but something that they could not stop talking about was his lack of governmental experience. Unlike President Trump, the majority of former presidents in the history of the United States became president after spending some time working in civil service as state legislators, governors, or something of the like. Though there are many people running for president in the 2020 presidential cycle that have spent time in civil service, there are a few people that have made careers outside the bounds of the interworkings of the national and state governments who are currently seeking a bid for president. The majority of the 2020 presidential candidates have served for some period of time in the U.S. Senate. Those who have served or are currently serving in the Senate include Michael Bennet, Joe Biden (who went on to serve as Barack Obama’s vice president), Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. Others have served in the U.S. House of Representatives including John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Beto O’Rourke, Tim Ryan, Joe Sestak, and Joe Walsh. Steve Bullock and Bill Weld have both served as governors of Montana and Massachusetts respectively.

Of all of the twenty-three people running for president, only two people have not previously ran for any sort of public office. Not all of the other twenty-two candidates have served in national governmental positions; many have served in state governments or as mayors of major cities. However, Andrew Yang and Tom Steyer have never ran for public office. Both Yang and Steyer pursued more entrepreneurial paths. Andrew Yang founded Venture for America, a nonprofit that trains young professionals to work for startup companies in various major cities in the country. Tom Steyer founded Farallon Capital Management and NextGen Climate, which he later renamed NextGen America in 2017 to express his opposition to President Trump. Of the remaining candidates only one other person, Marianne Williamson, has not served in public office. However, Williamson unsuccessfully campaigned to earn a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives for California in 2014.

Historically, it has been quite common that presidents have had some sort of governmental service under their belt before becoming commander in chief. Our current president, Donald Trump, had no previous government service experience; although he did not necessarily pose as if he did, as he based a majority of his campaign on his experience in his family’s company which he took over in 1971. Trump did, however, run as a Reform Party presidential candidate in 1999 (he dropped out of the race rather quickly in February 2000). Regardless of his limited experience serving in a national or state government position, Donald Trump was elected president in 2016. Perhaps the 2020 election will bring another president with limited governmental experience into the White House. This, therefore, begs the question: Is substantial, if any, prior government service experience necessary in order to be qualified to assume one of the most powerful political positions in the world?