This is my pre-election column. By the time next Wednesday arrives the volume of campaign noise will be more deafening than it is now. Next week will be deep breathing and mindfulness exercises.
Experience is a powerful teacher. So much so, we often vote for candidates with the most experience. Indeed, one of the greatest claims that a candidate for office or employment can offer, is that their experience matters. Both candidates for the presidency are incumbents of high office, and both tout their experience.
It is appropriate to consider some facts about the experience of any incumbent seeking to retain office. Just as our own character and competency can and will be judged by the trail of experiences we leave in our wake, so too the President of the United States. So let’s apply the experience standard to the man running for re-election.
- Thousands of children have been taken from their parents and incarcerated.
- 14 domestic terrorists were arrested for plotting to kidnap, try, and presumably execute the governor of Michigan. Before and after she was lambasted and ridiculed by the President.
- White supremacist demonstrated on behalf of hatred, harassed those who opposed them, and killed several anti-racism demonstrators. The President declared them to be an equivalent social movement to those demanding racial equality, and still refuses to denounce white supremacists.
- As many as two dozen private conversations have been held between the President and Vladimir Putin – no State Department or Intelligence officials were included, no transcripts. This is a radical break with national security protocol.
- The President publicly referred to other nations, and only primarily Black nations, with an excretive expletive I cannot use here.
- The Washington Post has counted over 20,000 false or misleading statements by the President.
- In direct contradiction to our intelligence agencies, the President says he believes the denials of Vladimir Putin about Russian interference in our elections, and about Mohammad bin Salman ordering the grizzly murder of a U.S. resident and journalist.
- Nine close associates of the President have been charged, convicted, or sentenced to jail.
- The President raised questions about a judge because of his Mexican descent, and publicly ridiculed Gold Star parents, Christine Blasey Ford, and Dr. Anthony Fauci to name only a few.
Other people’s experiences of us speak loudly as well. The following people once served in important roles in the administration, only to leave their post and subsequently criticize the President:
- Former Defense Secretary, James Mattis (Marine Corps general, retired)
- Former Navy Secretary, Richard V. Spencer
- Former National Security Adviser, John Bolton
- Former White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly (Marine Corps general, retired)
- Former White House National Security adviser, H.R. McMaster (Army lieutenant general, retired)
- Former Homeland Security adviser, Tom Bossert
- Over 60% of the State Department’s ranking diplomats have left service while over 1000 former Justice Department employees signed a letter calling for A.G. Barr’s resignation because of his enabling inappropriate if not illegal presidential actions.
Experience matters. Not everyone learns from experience, and in fact, all of us have at one time or another failed to learn from experience. However, not learning from the experience of the last four years qualifies as denial or willful resistance to learning.