Incumbent or Incapable?

Election season has just recently passed and before we know it, we will be in the midst of the presidential election of 2016. Incumbents and new politicians alike, all preach their hopes, ideas, dreams, and future initiatives to anyone who will listen. They have huge goals that they set for themselves and run on platforms of “hope” and “change” that somehow persuade citizens to vote for them come election day. Eligible members of society, educated or not, who decide to do so, take time out of their day to let their voice be heard by voting for who they want to represent them for the term to come.

With the most recent mid-term elections being the first that I was able to vote, I felt it to be my civilian duty to educate myself about each candidate to my best and informed ability. Upon doing my research, I took a step back to think about what I was actually doing.

I was choosing a politician to trust, solely based on what they said their future plans were going to be. A person whom I have never met had the ability to persuade me, through their words and promises, to trust them with the future of my states government.

After all of my research and self-education I trusted Rick Snyder (the incumbent) more than Mark Schauer (the opponent). I did not necessarily agree with all Snyder’s ideas, but at the end of the day he and his team had done this job once before. They knew what they were getting themselves into and they had proven to be able to do it in the prior term. Did I think Schauer was incapable? Not necessarily. But he did not have the same trust building, backing, and history behind him that gave me a steadfast reason to trust him. Was he truly capable of whole-heartedly knowing that his goals and ideas were even plausible should he have been elected?

The Incumbent, Rick Snyder

The Incumbent, Rick Snyder

The Non-Incumbent, Mark Schauer

The Opponent, Mark Schauer

When I came to realize my personal opinion about this topic, I was curious as to what others had to say about incumbents and their place in politics. This article discusses the advnatage of incumbents within that realm.

Although Burkes reading was assigned 2 weeks after the mid-term elections, I think he makes points in relation to my voting experience. Burke believes that the government is practical in itself and requires experience to be successful. He believes there to be significant limits on priori reason and is confused how politicians can have such strong ideas and goals before having the actual experience. This related to my thoughts upon voting in the election. How was I supposed to put my trust in Schauer, as Burke says it, with no prior reason to? Burke also writes about how we should trust tradition when it comes to politics, as that is the most reliable source of knowledge. Tradition easily goes hand in hand with the past and what we have seen to be done before. That is why I believe many citizens viewed the election as Burke would have, and decided to trust Snyder for another term.

Take Obama for example- in 2008 he came in as a new presidental candidate preaching “change you can believe in” against John McCain, also a new candidate. Neither of whom had the prior experience necessary to know if their platforms and ideas were even plausible upon stepping foot into The Oval Office. I personally think, that due to Obamas lack of prior knowledge about his scope of capability upon being elected, he soon realized and proved to America that he was incapable of successfully implementing a lot of the “change” that he ran on initially. This blog points out the flaws in Obama’s “hope and change” campaign and the lack of implimentation. I believe that if Obama had the prior knowledge of an incumbent, he would have known that “hope and change” might not be plausible. The points that Burke makes about the need for prior knowledge correlate to this very situation.

Although Burke makes a good point, it is impossible to have prior knowledge and experience without initial experience. One cannot have experience without having had the actual experience. Although I have my personal opinions and voted for the incumbent, I cannot expect Schauer to have had experience of being a governor without being a governor.

None of this is to say that incumbents never lose, as NPR makes clear. But it is not to say that Burke doesn’t make a significant point as to why, perhaps, they are more likely to win. Burke’s reading and reasoning’s could not help but to make me assess my personal voting experience, which I am sure, is very similar to that of many others.