For only the second time ever, the US has a President who is has not been a career politician. Ronald Reagan was the first real President who moved from acting to be the governor of California for two terms (Arnie anyone?) and then the 40th President of the United States. Now we have Donald Trump, reviled by some and loved by others. A previous post of mine showed why people turned to the more extreme vote in Donald Trump, that being due to their feeling of disenfranchisement and hopelessness.
Similarly, Reagan won his election in an environment of high inflation and high unemployment (Maggie Thatcher had been elected the Prime Minister of the UK the year previous amongst weak opposition in Ted Heath and promises to counter high unemployment after the Winter of Discontents). Whatever you may say about Reaganomics and the theory that an economy has ‘trickle down’ benefits, he was seen more as a people’s person and far more relatable than his opponent, Jimmy Carter, since he won the 1980 election by 10x Carter’s vote.
It’s too early to say anything yet about Trump, but looking at Reagan you could say he actually did OK as a President. I don’t think he was amazing because of his narrow minded economic policy and an ‘America can do no wrong’ attitude, but towards the end of his leadership he ended up softening his stance on Russia and negotiating a fair and safer nuclear agreement with them, something which enabled the frosty stand off to come to an end. A counter point to this is that Reagan was the first candidate that was likable enough to gain a Republican presidency, since the GOP had been out of the White House for many years. His reverence is possible due to people overseeing some major misgivings; revisionism always provides different perspectives.
But coming back to the main question, I really do not believe that we need career politicians to be constantly head of our nation. If you look through history, of the 56 Prime Ministers to date, 42 studied at Oxbridge, 11 did not go to university (most recently Winston Churchill and John Major), and only 3, Earl Russell, Neville Chamberlain, and Gordon Brown, went to other universities (Edinburgh, Birmingham and Edinburgh respectively). Oxbridge graduates heavily dominate UK politics, and in particular, those with PPE degrees. Only 4 Universities offer this degree, Bristol, Durham, Lancaster and Oxford. It seems to be the degree to take if you want to have your best shot at being a cabinet member or prime minister. But this just creates a generic character type for leader and you end up getting the same issues arising over and over again, especially with economic matters.
Peter Jones has said today that he is thinking about running a campaign to become Prime Minister, and you know what? I don’t think it would be a bad idea. Now I can’t judge without seeing his policies, but I think that having someone who has made something of himself, lost it all, and then built it back up to being the financial behemoth that he is today says something about a person’s character. It shows drive, knowledge and a feeling conviction in their ability. Politicians who are elected Prime Minister haven’t actually proved that they have been a success at building something before if you think about it. They build a campaign on promises. Building a multinational company and then running it is almost like running a mini country. You have advisors who run the day to day activities while you are the representative who guides the vision of the firm. I would argue that this qualifies someone more than someone with a PPE degree…