One of the most interesting blogs that I have recently discovered is the 20 committee.com. Mr. John Schindler, a former professor at the Naval War College blogs issues pertaining to national security and Eastern Europe. His experience in the intelligence community brings much interesting insight in an area that is usually sensationalized in the media. Along with his blog and twitter, he holds nothing back and makes you think.
For example, one of his recent tweets made reference to the characteristics of the current crop of people working in DC. The following quote spiked my curiosity:
“…most of these smart young people really don’t know anything. Oh, don’t get me wrong, they had great SATs and went to top schools and have mastered the art of sounding smart, attaining admirable fluency in that unnatural dialect known as Beltway-speak, but as for any deep knowledge about any particular subject relating to how the world really works, that’s about as rare in this crowd as unicorns and Bigfoot…”
The rest of the post is found here. It reminds me of my time of trying to find work in DC.
Sometime ago, it was my goal to work on the Hill and use my legal experience to advise policymakers. Although, I was not a specialist, I was willing to learn and believed that real world experience would help craft better policy.
At that time, I had been practicing law for seven years in Miami when I began sending resumes to various members of Congress. The closest I ever got to work on the Hill was working as a research assistant at the US Senate Republican Policy Committee. I am forever grateful for the opportunity of working at the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee and the people that I worked with. And in the end, not getting a job on the Hill after my time with policy committee turned out to be a blessing.
Prof. Schindler does raise an important point: the need for “adults” in Washington DC. You can see this need in all aspects of policy. The majority of the people that I worked with were not in that category, however, I saw a lot of people in other offices that were. This is especially true in the arena foreign policy.
As Prof. Schindler explains, this problem affects both Democrats and Republicans. This failure of real experience is amplified with the Administration’s relationship with Russia and our allies’ lack of trust towards us, especially in the Middle East. Our foreign policy is based on academic theory instead of reality.
This problem is not limited in foreign policy, but in our domestic policy as well. You can hear it when someone is trying to explain to a Congressional staffer the unintended consequence of a federal legislation or a federal regulation. Instead of trying to understand the problem, you get talking points from the staffer, who has no real world experience, but who has “Hill experience.”
You can see it in the GOP, where some value compromise and stability over confrontation and others who value confrontation over compromise. There is a time to fight and a time to compromise. The problem is that not every issue is an opportunity to fight or every issue is an opportunity to compromise your principles. There needs to be a balance.
The root of this problem is arrogance. Consider this recent column by Salena Zito at Real Clear Politics.com. Her column reflected on the recent Democrat debate for the Presidential nomination. She discussed how Democrats were appealing to Progressives rather than to the ordinary voter. The quote that best sums her column came from New York Times reporter Josh Barrow who made the following tweet: “Whenever I’m in a plane over middle America, I look down and think, ‘That’s where 2 Broke Girls viewers live.’”
Mr. Barrow’s attitude is a reflection of what has infected Washington, whether it is our elected officials, their staff, or even members of the media. It is an attitude that because I work in Washington, I am smarter than the rest of you. Pride leads to arrogance. Arrogance leads to complacency. Complacency leads to destruction. Such a mindset is dangerous, especially in the world we live in.
To resolve this problem does not involve electing a “political messiahs” or a “dream ticket.” It requires us to hold our elected officials to a higher standard. It requires us electing men and women who know their limitations and embrace that fact rather than hide it. What this country needs is adults in leadership, not petulant children.