The Future of the Republican Party and the Rise of the Political Class
If you ever wondered what happens to politicians after they leave elected office and try to find a job in the real world, look no further. Here is a great video of a real live, former Republican elected official who received national attention when she ran as vice president of the United States as the VP candidate when Senator John McCain ran as president in 2008.
Yes, the woman in the video is Sarah Palin doing a rap dance in a pink bear costume. Now, we already had Sean Spicer, the former White House press secretary, appearing in Dancing with the Stars, after he resigned from the Trump administration in July 2017. Spicer resigned when Trump appointed Anthony Scaramucci White House Communications Director who would then be Spicer’s boss. Spicer then resigned and was replaced by Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Sanders resigned in June 2019. Scaramucci resigned in July 2017.
During his dancing efforts on the show, Spicer was supported by the right-wing who voted to continue his dancing appearances. Spicer also was endorsed by Trump who tweeted “He is a great and very loyal guy who is working very hard.”
But when Spicer was voted off the show, Trump deleted that message and posted a new one: “A great try by @seanspicer. We are all proud of you!”
“Thank you,” Spicer replied a little later in the evening. “I can’t begin express how much I appreciate your continued support, especially throughout my time on @DancingABC.”
Spicer also danced in a lime green, puffy shirt designed to make people feel comfortable chuckling at his presence on the show and has kept his brand consistent from there. He dressed as Woody from Toy Story and as Frankenstein’s monster,” according to a Vanity Fair article.
Hard for Politicians to Find Real Work
If any voter is wondering why so many Republicans in Congress support Trump no matter what ludicrous policies he proposes, enacts or says, the answer can be seen in the examples of Spicer and Palin. Finding a well-paying job with a comparably high level of congressional benefits and lavish expense account is very hard to find in the private sector. What it often means is that former politicians end up being paid to serve on corporate boards or in charities and think-tanks where their input is mostly consultative and without any accountability.
Elected politicians have great jobs compared to most average Americans and most in corporate America. The average length of service for Congressional Representatives at the beginning of the 115th Congress was 9.4 years (4.7 House terms); for Senators, 10.1 years (1.7 Senate terms), according to the Congressional Research Service. Of the senators, 50 were previously elected to the House, and 266 were former state or territorial legislators (44 in the Senate, 222 in the House.) There is a career path here from state and local government up the ranks to Congress and it means that we have a professional political class, many of whom have never held a job in the private sector for years.
Of course, this is a major bipartisan problem. The list of senators who served the longest is surprising and disturbing. The longest is Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd (W-VA) who served 51 years followed by Democratic Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI) who lasted 49 years in the Senate.
This does not even come close to the average job tenure of average workers, who find new jobs on a much faster basis.
The median number of years that wage and salary workers have worked for their current employer is currently 4.6 years, according to an Economic News Release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, this longevity varies by age and occupation:
- The median tenure for workers age 25 to 34 is 3.2 years.
- The median tenure for employees age 65 and over is 10.3 years.
- Workers in management, professional, and related occupations had the highest median tenure (5.5 years).
This disconnect between the job tenures of professional politicians and average American workers is the source of political distrust and instability.
Professional politicians have no idea what the average worker faces in the workplace in everything from salary and wage stress to declining benefits, job insecurity and the stress of having a dismal retirement future.
Term limits would help solve this problem, but the elected officials who know how hard it would be to find a comparable job in the private sector vote for their won self-preservation. This means term limits are something voters would favor, but it would not gain traction in Congress.
So as voters go to the polls in 2020, remember that the political class is focused on job preservation. This means they are inherently conservative. No change is best, little change is better, and fundamental change is revolutionary and unacceptable. This helps explain why the progressive political message is so unpopular among professional politicians.
If politicians accepted change and rotated more quickly between public and private life, we would have a vastly improved political system. If this happened, members of Congress would not be dancing in chicken suits or Frankenstein costumes and the electorate would have more choices among candidate who work in the real world.
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