Put a Rocket Scientist in Congress?

Ruth McClung is running for Congress in Arizona’s 7th District. She seems like an interesting person–physics degree, works in rocketry at an engineering company, worked her way through college, enjoys rock climbing, an amateur painter whose work has been displayed in local galleries.

Views on specific issues aside, it’s great to see so much true diversity among some of the new people running for office. Too many of the old crowd are made in the same mold…typically lawyers, who have spent their entire careers in public office, government “service,” or in pseudo-private positions (lobbyists, attorneys focusing on regulatory issues) which are closely connected to their governmental experience..or activists and “community organizers,” types of activity which are really just other kinds of lobbying…and many them appear to have little intellectual or emotional depth and no real interests in life other than the acquisition of personal political power and influence.

And diversity of career background and interests promises real benefits for improving the effectiveness, and even the sanity, of government. See for example Ruth’s op-ed a physicist’s perspective on energy independence. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a few people in Congress who actually understand something about how energy is produced and distributed? And a substantial number of people who have actually created and run companies? And lots of other backgrounds? Lawyers are an essential part of our society, but there is no reason why we should have allowed the the running of our country to become so much of a legal monoculture, let alone that we should have allowed what was supposed to be a representative body to be composed of so many people that are there for decades and have little experience or comprehension of any other kind of activity.

In political philosophy, the concept of “virtual representation” has several interrelated meanings. One of these meanings, the idea that one can be represented without being able to vote for those who make the decisions, was an argument often put forward by those who opposed expansion of the franchise in 19th century Britain. The idea was that the agricultural laborer didn’t need to vote because the landowner for whom he worked would represent “the landed interest”, which included him, while the factory worker didn’t need to vote because the factory owner would represent “the manufacturing interest.” Our political class has become so self-contained and self-perpetuating that the current situation–in which lawyers, “community organizers,” and professional politicians supposedly represent people in a vast diversity of occupations and with a great diversity of interests–comes uncomfortably close. Indeed, one could argue that the disconnect between the interests of the members of our political class and the interests of those they represent is just about as great as the disconnect between the interests of the 1840 factory owner and his operative–maybe even more so.

When considering your choices in the coming election, I think it is entirely reasonable to consider a candidate’s occupational background and, other things being more or less equal, to favor the opening up of the legislative and executive branches to a broader range of experiences and talents.

6 thoughts on “Put a Rocket Scientist in Congress?”

  1. A good example of how the political class looks out for itself, at the expense of everyone else, here.

    The insider trading laws do not apply to Congress.

    And as legislation increasingly moves from laws which establish general principles to those which are highly-specific as to the industries and individual companies they benefit, the opportunity for Washington insiders to profit from nonpublic information goes up considerably.

  2. Put a rocket scientist in Congress? Considering it’s a cadre of burned-out boosters and space cadets, anyway, why not?

  3. Just for a change, a candidate who has indeed done something else besides ‘Community Work’, or some other amorphous description.

    Over in the United Kingdom, this is the type of clown which was pushed by the Conservative Party at the last Election. Is it any wonder we have lost just about all trust in politics, when this is the ‘best you can get’?

  4. Another nonstandard candidate is Chris Gibson, retired Army colonel. The farmer/professor Victor Davis Hanson recommends him highly:

    “I met Chris during his one-year stay at Stanford, and found him a rare Renaissance figure — yet another of these idealistic first-time candidates without a political resume who are entering the fray to save this country. I think pundits have not appreciated the fact that this is not quite a red/blue, Republican versus Democratic race, but a historic election in which many of the Republican candidates are first-time politicians, beholden to no one, and not part of the Republican establishment. Their ascendancy should make things very interesting. Chris is a rare candidate, whose integrity is as unquestioned as his talents are boundless. It was an honor to be called his friend. He is an investment in our collective future.”

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