Licensing is no cure-all, as the behavior of Washington law firms shows. Most politicians are lousy, and a license to practice won’t make them better. But creating complicated and time-consuming regulatory barriers to becoming a politician might, at least, limit the number of louses.
To qualify for a license, politicians should be rigorously educated and highly trained. In college, they need to study subjects pertinent to their field. Just eight semesters of abnormal psych might not be enough.
But let’s not send them to our best schools — we’ve tried the Ivy League before, with mixed results. Is Trump University still open?
Perhaps future politicians should study Political Science. Ha. Ha. Ha. No. If politics were a science, it would have been tried on lab rats first.
Nonetheless, aspiring politicians obviously do need BS degrees. Any class they can BS their way through will prove valuable in coming years.
More important are the academic disciplines that proto-politicos need to avoid:
Mathematics — One look at the federal budget would make a mathematician’s head explode.
Logic — Putting a logical person in politics is like putting an astrologer in charge of the Hubble Space Telescope.
Literature and English Composition — Have you read the memoirs by successful politicians after they’ve left office? They didn’t achieve preeminence by knowing how to recognize a competent ghostwriter.
The most promising candidates in the making will concentrate on campus social life, especially in the dining hall. A vital skill in running for office — especially during presidential primaries — is the ability to eat six pancake breakfasts and five spaghetti dinners a day at town halls, volunteer fire departments, VFW Posts, Elk Lodges, the Junior Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions Club, American Legion, Knights of Columbus and B’nai B’rith.
Between meals, students can gain additional experience in practical politics by standing on a chair and reciting the same 20-minute piece of rote gibberish over and over, then taking questions from classmates. (One of which is sure to be “Why don’t you sit down and shut up?” — an existential query that anyone who wants to be a politician should ponder deeply.)
And the advantages of the fraternity and sorority system should not be neglected. Some
day, a secret handshake could be worth millions in campaign fundraising. An embarrassing pledge stunt photo could be even more valuable (as long as it’s of another pol at a rival frat).
Then again, one shudders to think what a “political” “Animal House” would be like — “Toga! Toga! Toga!” except practicing to be a real Brutus, with real knives, in a real Senate.
On the other hand, political students should avoid student politics. Student politics consist of either donning black ski masks and chasing guest lecturers off campus or finding big black Barry Goldwater horn-rims to wear to Young Americans for Freedom meetings. This is excellent training to be a lousy voter. But the point is to be a lousy politician.
The country has a long history of lousy politicians. The United States wouldn’t be the nation that it is today without the likes of — to name just a few — Aaron Burr, Millard Fillmore, Warren Harding, Huey Long, Richard Nixon and James Michael Curley (who served as mayor of Boston while in a federal penitentiary).
We need a rigorous test to ensure that our politicians meet (but do not exceed) America’s traditional standards of lousiness. It should be something like a bar exam or, maybe, in this case, a low-bar exam.
There would be an essay question. “Say nothing of substance in 5,000 words or more. Extra credit for saying less at greater length.”
And multiple choice. “Circle the correct answer:”
A. The gloves are off in this election.
B. I will do what it takes to win.
C. Really. I mean it. Bring on the dark money. Unleash the scare ads. Hello, foreign troll farms. I promise every American a $50-an-hour minimum wage and a free emotional support animal.
However, there will be no True/False section in the test. True and false are simply not political concepts. It will have to be a False/False test instead:
“I will bring new ideas to Washington.”
“I look forward to building bipartisan support for my programs.”
“And I’ll never do it again.”
“I have the full support of my loving spouse and family.”