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Context Florida: Ed Moore: We must start to elect statesmen rather than salesmen

Monday, November 18, 2013

By Ed Moore, Guest columnist

If there is one thing to be learned from the growing debacle that is Obamacare, it is that experience and competence matter, especially in large-scale endeavors.

It does seem, especially in politics and elections, that these intrinsic elements, competence and experience, have lately been left by the wayside. The reactions of this current administration to the known flaws in their signature piece of legislation are clear indicators that either competence or character, maybe both, are absent.

We allow ourselves to feel all warm and fuzzy when we embrace a candidate who says he or she “feels our pain” and offers us “hope and change.” We like to think they like us — they know us — and boy, would it be nice to have them as a friend. Shame on us! We must demand more than that.

Where are the blueprints, the road maps, the plans that reveal exactly how the long list of promises will be fulfilled? What will be the costs? How long will it take? And what are the potential consequences, intended and unintended?

I have been alive for 12 presidents, although for two of them I was too young to be aware of the politics, philosophies and governing styles. Yet, as a student of history I have frequently looked back to draw comparisons between both style and substance among presidents, senators, governors and other elected officials.

In looking back it seems clear that resumes do matter — not just what they have done, but more importantly how they did it. It is not only their experiences that matter, it is the performance in critical roles over time as well.

As voters, we tend to gravitate to philosophies before performance, as if having someone in office who says what we want to hear matters more than whether they have the skill to actually accomplish the things they say along the campaign trail.

We have fallen in love with sound bites and have shunned depth. Accomplishments should matter far more than lofty promises from eloquent politicians who tell us what they think we want to hear.

We tend to treat the selection of office-holders as if we are picking a pie from the bakery window. We want the satisfying taste while ignoring the need and cost.

We must do better. We must demand skilled candidates who have quality resumes and demonstrable experience, who demonstrate leadership, creativity and management skill.

Our federal government keeps kicking the can down the road. The can needs a rest. Let us look within ourselves to seek out the voter who will demand quality while also granting patience.

We need the patience to place faith in those we elect for the right reasons, people who are earnestly seeking to fix what is broken while not expanding government so much that it disrupts functioning markets.

Government must cease growing like kudzu and be reined in through competent management, fiscally responsible actions and a realization that we all must take a little more personal responsibility for our own lives.

We must stop electing salesmen and start electing statesmen.

And finally, let us begin to evaluate the people who have worked with the candidates in previous roles. What are their associates like, who have been their friends, and are they still embraced by those who have known them the longest?

Character matters, and there is little better clue to character than those whom we choose to surround ourselves with.

We must do better!

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