The Experience Bust


My friend Patrick Ruffini is a very insightful — in my opinion, the best — observer of the nuances of online presidential campaign strategies. Despite his unswerving commitment to a conservative ideology and his support of the GOP, he has tracked, analyzed, blogged and Twittered this campaign (as in, the past four years) with analysis that is written for partisans, but free from the blind faith of “operatives” and “spinmeisters” who masquerade as pundits. I’m sure Patrick’s GOP colleagues have not welcomed many of the conclusions of some of his analysis, especially those like the one this morning where he concludes with this quote regarding what Obama’s epoch-changing online fund-raising will mean for the election now taking place:

“This is going to be the political equivalent of Sherman’s March.”

I hope (if Patrick is correct) the election of Obama — and how this campaign has been financed and carried out — is also a Sherman’s March through any individual or institution who wants us to believe in them solely because they have experience.

So much of the strategy to defeat Obama (first by the Clintons, and by McCain until he selected his running mate) centered on his lack of experience — this is not his time, said Bill Clinton over-and-over. Yet the more that criticism was leveled at Obama, the more his campaign proved that experience is what people believe got us into the problems we’re now mired:

Elected officials with experience got us into a war that our military won with precision and speed, but those experienced politicians had no workable plan for what to do once the military handed them the victory.

CEOs with experience destroyed the giant financial institutions they ran and in so doing, brought our economy to the brink of collapse.

Media Executives with experience refused to accept that the companies they run are never going to be the same — that power no longer comes exclusively from owning barrels of ink or having a government license for spectrum. That power comes from having the trust of individuals.

Talk Show Hosts with experience have refused to accept the notion that you can’t work for companies that own TV networks, national newspapers, dominant radio networks and still convince anyone beyond rabid followers that you are outside “the mainstream media.”

Members of Congress with experience have destroyed our trust in the entire lawmaking process. They have failed to recognize how absurd their theatrics of posturing looks when recorded and replayed on YouTube. They have failed to understand how the transparency of their motives have turned us into a nation of political cynics.

I hope that if he is elected, Obama will govern the way he has campaigned. By disregarding what the experienced experts will declare he cannot do. By continuing to demonstrate what can be done if you not only run an effective online campaign strategy, but what you can do with an effective online governing strategy.

Something (perhaps my experience) tells me, however, that even this election will not convince some people that experience is much over-rated.