When is an Amateur Better than a Professional?

Imagine if your doctor, pilot, house builder, or car mechanic introduced him/herselftea-party and announced they were new to the profession and in terms of skill only a rank amateur. You’d walk out the door. But there is one profession where rookies are replacing professionals at an alarming rate and we not only seem to be okay with it, we actively support them. Enter the Tea Party.

Getting closer to the November 2010 midterm elections, the Tea Party movement is firing salvo after salvo at incumbent professionals, gaining status as a political force to be reckoned with, and solidifying their street credentials with the quantity of their populist candidates if not the quality of their methods. But who cares if they’re amateurs?

Who cares – are those that have a warranted fear for what will happen; to our social dialogue, our fiscal priorities, the size of the federal government, and how the Constitution is viewed. Populating that Who’s Who list are the media, statists, fiscal progressives, organized labor, the two political parties and their anointed candidates, as well as any other group that has profited from a political class that treats its producers like an ATM machine that doesn’t give receipts and doesn’t have a cash limit.

I became curious about who these tea party people were. I had heard they were angry hayseeds and racist Christians. I read that they were predominantly white, obese, loud mouthed Republican, Obama haters. But of course I did because it was reported by occupants of the Who’s Who list.

My curiosity led me to a Tea Party rally. I saw the requisite percentage of fat people as well as fit and trim soccer moms. I saw a whole lot of white people as well, but no loud mouths. And for the life of me I couldn’t pick out the Republicans from the Independents or Democrats.

What I saw were political amateurs. People that had better things to do that particular day but nonetheless made the trip to be with those of like political and social mind. They weren’t angry, they didn’t hate President Obama; at least openly. Their protest signs looked like grade school art projects and the featured speakers had a passionate, yet earthy appeal to them; far from the polish that a professional politician would have brought. There was a certain naïveté about their vision that only comes with their amateur status. In this way they were not unlike the 60’s hippies.

They are blunt. They know what they want. They have a vision and aren’t afraid to talk about it. “We want smaller federal government, greater fiscal restraint, and a renewed emphasis on Constitutional policy and process” says a party attendee. To these newly minted activists, the entire political system has failed them. The professionals lost their spine, became arrogant with their power, have stopped listening, they persistently overreach their limits, and will stand for whatever might get them another term. The amateurs are simply “mad as hell as they’re not going to take it anymore”. Their anger is being manifest in a peaceful, democratic revolution; just like the way they were taught when Civics was a required course in the public school curriculum.

Carl Paladino is an example of this movement. He is a political amateur in the New York state Governor’s race against well known Andrew Cuomo. While he makes the distinction of being a Republican he treats this election as not one of Democrat against Republican but an Us versus Them battle; Us being working amateurs versus Them, the ruling political class. Mr. Paladino has run into media trouble already because he apparently phoned in his attendance at Political Correctness 101 and makes no excuses for it. Carl sounds like a refreshing stick of political dynamite for a statehouse that desperately needs an extreme makeover.     

Dr. Rand Paul from Kentucky is another one of these amateurs. He wins a primary and within hours the quaking Who’s Who list is all over him like a cheap suit for an unpolished sound bite. Another rookie mistake made by an amateur. Imagine a politician actually saying what he really thinks instead of what he thinks people want to hear.

Nikki Haley, Christine O’Donnell, and Joe Miller are about to get pounded by “the list” if they so much as cough into their hand instead of their elbow. Expect it, they’re amateurs in national stage politics much the same as most of the Founding Fathers were back in the day.

American politics is getting something it has mused about for a long time; a third party, of sorts. If the established Republican standard bearers continue to miscalculate the Tea Party sentiment amidst a dysfunctional political theater that seems unable to rehabilitate itself, it will be at their own peril. The Republican Party’s  unspoken response to Tea Party Christine O’Donnell’s win in Delaware is indicative  of clinging to old style party politics over understanding the who, what and why’s of a dissatisfied electorate motivated in unprecedented numbers to replace party professionals.      

These rookies will take their lumps. Their campaigns will likely hire image consultants to smooth out the rough edges; but I sincerely hope not too much.

Being an amateur isn’t all that bad especially when the professionals have done such an incredibly poor job.


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