Lori Falce: Experience matters | TribLIVE.com
Lori Falce, Columnist

Lori Falce: Experience matters

Lori Falce
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said he’s flirting with an independent presidential campaign that would motivate voters turned off by both parties.

My husband loved The Rock.

A wrestling fan and a movie buff who owned a video store, Matthew thought Dwayne Johnson was entertaining and funny.

And there’s no way he would vote for him for president.

I know this because Matthew was just as passionate about Lynn Swann. He loved the Steelers overall and Swann in particular but would shake his head sadly when the former wide receiver ran for governor of Pennsylvania.

“You can’t just go to the front of the line,” he would say.

He wanted to vote for Swann. He wanted to believe he was doing the right thing in giving the vote he felt so strongly about to a Pittsburgh Republican he respected immensely. But he believed you had to have experience in government before you could govern.

Today, it seems like everyone is a potential front runner for the highest offices. In a year where 20 or so elected Democrats are expected to announce their candidacy for the 2020 presidential race, there continue to be suggestions — serious or otherwise — about people from outside the governmental box.

Oprah Winfrey has said she won’t do it but the former CEO and chairman of Starbucks, billionaire Howard Schultz is making the rounds pushing his book and independent candidacy possibilities. Kanye West has thrown his name out there even if he hasn’t officially thrown his hat in the ring.

And then there’s The Rock. Johnson has expressed interest in politics and has attended both Republican and Democratic national conventions in the past.

But like my husband, he thinks you need more than name recognition and popularity to do the job.

“Just for me, I lack the experience. I lack a lot of things. Certainly not right now,” USA Today quoted Johnson saying in an interview with IndieWire at the Sundance Film Festival.

That’s pretty self-aware. It shows good judgment. Hey, he’s got some good ideas. Maybe he should run for president.

Just maybe it should be after a stint as a mayor or legislator first.

Lately, it seems that people who have done the jobs that would prepare you for the top seat are disparaged precisely for having the experience that would help them understand the ins and outs.

Experience isn’t a dirty word. It doesn’t have to be synonymous with “insider” or “swamp.” It doesn’t even have to mean that popular people from other industries can’t get into the game. It certainly didn’t stop Ronald Reagan, whose path from Hollywood to the presidency cut through the California governor’s mansion as well as leadership of one of the state’s most influential unions.

If you were hiring someone to do a job, you would look for the person with experience, not just someone you liked who might not end up knowing how to use that (insert potentially dangerous equipment here). Why should we treat the most important job interview we will ever be part of any differently?

So maybe Schultz has what it takes. Maybe Oprah could be drafted. Maybe Kanye could…well, maybe not.

But there’s also no reason why any of them couldn’t get their feet wet in another public office first.

Lori Falce is a Tribune-Review community engagement editor. You can contact Lori at [email protected].

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