Presidential Experience

March 4, 2008

As once again citizens in four states go to the polls today, it has been interesting to see how the presidential campaign has unfolded. While many political pundits have made note of the number of times the words “change” and “hope” have been used in the campaign, I would like to highlight another word. That word is “experience.”

On the Republican side, John McCain talked about his experience in Washington while Mitt Romney talked about his experience running a business. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has made a big issue of her years of experience compared to Barack Obama. My feeling is that experience is important, but character and values are even more important. Obviously, you don’t want someone in the Oval Office who doesn’t know his or her way around Washington. At the same time, the American people haven’t exactly felt that experience is always a major prerequisite to the office.

In the last few decades, American voters have often put the less experienced candidate in office. President Gerald Ford was certainly more experienced than Governor Jimmy Carter. And after four years as president, Jimmy Carter was more experienced than former governor Ronald Reagan. But the American people put the less experienced candidate in office.

In 1992, you could certainly say that George H.W. Bush was experienced. He had served eight years as vice-president and four years as president. Before that he had been ambassador to China and the head of the CIA. But in spite of all of that experience, the voters elected Governor Bill Clinton.

Sometimes experience is all that it’s supposed to be. One president came into office with tremendous experience. He served ten years in the House of Representatives, was minister to Russia, then served ten years in the Senate, and four years as Secretary of State. James Buchanan was elected in 1856 but served only one term because he became one of America’s worst presidents. In 1860, he was defeated by an inexperienced one-term congressman by the name of Abraham Lincoln.

©2008 Probe Ministries