Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker denies he's a career politician -- even though he has been in elected office since he was 25 years old and first ran for office when he was 22. The 47-year-old Republican presidential contender said in an interview with CNBC, released Tuesday, that he is "just a normal guy" and rejects the career politician label despite being in politics for most of his adult life.
If recent polling is any indication, Republican voters place a premium on inexperience. Donald Trump, who's never worked in government at any level, is obviously the dominant GOP candidate, at least for now, but he's followed by Ben Carson, a retired far-right neurosurgeon who's never sought or held public office.
Add Carly Fiorina to the mix and their combined poll support points to a striking detail: about half of GOP voters are backing presidential candidates who've never worked a day in public service.
It's leading more experienced White House hopefuls to downplay their qualifications and pretend they're not so experienced after all. The Associated Press reported yesterday:
The two-term governor argued, "A career politician, in my mind, is somebody who's been in Congress for 25 years."
By any fair measure, this really is silly. There's no point in having a semantics debate over the meaning of the word "politician," but when Scott Walker dropped out of college, it's not because he was flunking -- he was motivated in part by a desire to run for public office. The Republican lost that race at the age of 22, but Walker then moved to a more conservative district, tried again, and won a state Assembly race at the age of 25.
The man has, quite literally, spent more than half of his life as a political candidate or political officeholder. As an adult, Walker's entire career has been in politics. The AP report added that Walker has served "nine years in the Assembly, eight years as Milwaukee County executive and is now in his fifth year as governor."
What's wrong with that? To my mind, nothing -- there's something inherently admirable about someone committing themselves to public service through elected office. If an American wants to make a difference, and he or she repeatedly earns voters' support, it's hardly something to be embarrassed about.
And in Scott Walker's case, it's hardly something to lie about. Presidential candidates who pretend to be something they're not tend not to do well.