Talk:Essay:Politicians Who Had a Real Career

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This is interesting

Just to clarify do you mean people who are not "career politicians"? MaxFletcher 18:06, 7 August 2011 (EDT)

Oh yeah, I added Herman Cain. Would he qualify (don't know much about US politics). MaxFletcher 18:09, 7 August 2011 (EDT)

Significance, and alphabetization

The list is for significant politicians who have had some influence. Many who have been added do not qualify. They need to be moved to the lower category.

Also, why alphabetize rather than rank by influence?--Andy Schlafly 20:33, 7 August 2011 (EDT)

What would qualify as significance? I moved Franken because, though his career was perhaps less-than-serious, as a senator, he makes law. Perhaps that could be the judge of influence? And I thought alphabetization would be effective for the purposes of locating a certain name following the explansion of the article. --Chouston 21:03, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
Good point about the value of alphabetization ... if there are enough names whereby it becomes an issue. Many of the names need to be moved to the "not significant" category. For example, unless you can identify a real influence that Al Franken has had, then he does not belong on the real list.--Andy Schlafly 21:08, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
I moved Franken.--JamesWilson 21:12, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
(edit conflict) Until such a time, I think alphabetization is still desirable, to avoid getting into arguments over who is more influential than whom. Regarding Franken, he has presided over two Supreme Court Justice confirmations, intoduced a bill to provide service dogs to disabled veterans as well as an amendment to the appropriations bill regarding contract disputes, and was in the national news a good deal due to his election controversies. (This is assuming that the positivity or negativity of influence is moot). --Chouston 21:17, 7 August 2011 (EDT)

Land surveying

I see Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln were moved out of the list. Both were land surveyors for several years, which is a "real" job. They might not have been hugely successful at the position, but it is a job that has real responsibility and there are legal consequences if done incorrectly. Mount Rushmore have 3 surveyors on it - only Theodore Roosevelt had the poor judgement of not attempting the profession. --SharonW 21:21, 7 August 2011 (EDT)


He was a five-star general in the Army and was very influential in WWII. He helped with the Invasion of Normandy.--JamesWilson 21:22, 7 August 2011 (EDT)


Whether you like him or hate him, he is the president of the United States. How can it be said he isn't "significant" in politics? What has all the fighting been about the past three years then? --SharonW 21:24, 7 August 2011 (EDT)

Edited to add - if he's insignificant, why does CP have so many articles about him and his administration's policies? --SharonW 21:30, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
Because he's a black atheist Muslim foreign liberal. TerryB 14:44, 8 August 2011 (EDT)

I am sure this was not the authors intent, but the above statement could come of as racist. I think he meant to say "a Black Muslim" - which is a political group. But by inserting atheist in between, it looks like "black" is being used in a perjorative way. The author might want to rephrase it.--PeterNant 17:08, 9 August 2011 (EDT)

Obama ???

I am curious about edit. Obama had a very wealthy career as a attorney and author before stepping into the political fray. Why does it not count? MaxFletcher 21:49, 7 August 2011 (EDT)

(Edit conflict) Also, why would there be question marks by Obama's name, but attorney by Santorum's, despite Santorum only having 4 years under his law belt and Obama having 9+? --Chouston 21:51, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
And what does "no clear influence in politics mean"? He's the president!!! Can't get much more influential than that! MaxFletcher 22:08, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
Surely influence means more than someone's title or position. Otherwise, the 44 most influential people in American history would be the 44 presidents, which is obviously not the case.--Andy Schlafly 23:06, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
But he has quite a clear influence. He is the President. MaxFletcher 23:17, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
So Barack Obama is no longer destroying the country? What a glorious day for America. --Chouston 23:19, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
Folks, position does not equal influence. Jesus had no position at all.--Andy Schlafly 23:39, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
But Obama has huge influence. He can sign things into law that cause massive changes. How do you classify influence? MaxFletcher 23:41, 7 August 2011 (EDT)
Thomas Edison was named by Life magazine as the most influential person in the entire world in the second millennium. Yet he did not sign anything into law.--Andy Schlafly 00:46, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
Yes, but the section is titled "No clear influence in politics." Obama clearly has enormous influence in politics. Particularly in that he controls the military, has a presidential veto and can pardon criminals. MaxFletcher 00:53, 8 August 2011 (EDT)

Position does not necessarily equate to influence - but it makes it more likely that they had influence, but not certain. Ie. Michele Bachmann has spent most of her time in Congress when Republicans were in the minority. This is one of the reasons why most of the bills she has submitted have not been passed into law: her party lacked the political numbers to be able to do so. Compare this to a Democratic Congressman elected at the same time, whose party did have control in Congress, who would most likely have had a larger impact because the bills introduced would have been more likely to get further. And although the 43 most influential people in American politics would not consist of the 43 American Presidents (not 44, Grover Cleveland is counted twice), but if you tried to list the top 250 influential people in American politics, you would get nearly all of them in that list (not William Henry Harrison, serving for 1 month, and like). And with regards to Jesus being influential without a position, his main influence was not political, in fact his political influence could be considered minimal (ignoring the effect centuries later, which surely would not be relevant). Therefore Jesus would not be on this list, as this is about political influence in the US. - JamesCA, August 8 2011

The trouble with this list is that it's often hard to evaluate a person's true influence until some years after the peak of their career - it's one thing to make policies or speeches while in office, and another to influence the actions of those who follow you. I don't think the list should include anyone who entered politics less than 25 years ago, since such inclusions cannot take a fully informed perspective.--CPalmer 09:03, 8 August 2011 (EDT)

Definition of influence

Andy, please give a definition of "influence" for us to work with. Thanks. --SharonW 00:15, 8 August 2011 (EDT)

I am curious as well. I am reluctant to add any more names until a clearer pattern emerges. --SteveK 00:22, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
It's obvious what "influence" is, isn't it? It means changing the way people view or conduct their lives. Rubber-stamping laws passed by Congress doesn't rank high on the list, but the media of course make money by pretending otherwise.--Andy Schlafly 01:05, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
Then Obama qualifies, but for the wrong reasons. forcing people into health care, downgrading the credit rating etc etc are all due to his political influence. MaxFletcher 01:10, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
I assume it isn't President Obama's war in Libya any longer? RonLar 02:01, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
If you're going to consider Obama not influential, then you can't complain about his policies, only complain about incomptetence. Because if he is not influential, then his policies don't matter, and aren't worth complaining about. Complain about the policies of the Democratic Party, instead of the man who is supposedly their puppet (which I think deserves enough evidence that maybe a page on the Debate Topics should be started?) - JamesCA, August 8 2011
That's like say no one should complain about a lack of leadership, which is similar to a leader who lacks influence.--Andy Schlafly 17:39, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
It's not like that. I said complain about incompetence, which is a lack of leadership/a leader who lacks influence. But if he isn't influential, then his policies don't matter, because he has no effect on them. Once he is influential, then his policies matter because then he can do something about them. - JamesCA, August 8 2011


LBJ taught at a school near the Mexico border in a town called Cotulla for 1 year. He then returned to teachers college, finished his diploma and taught at a High School in Houston for 1 semester, before taking a job as a congressman's assistant in Washington. He was then appointed head of the Texas NYA (a new deal program) before geing elected congressman a couple of years later. In other words LBJ had no significant career prior to getting into politics. For this reason I will remove his name. Whatever you can say about LBJ (and there is a lot to say) you cannot say he wasn't a career politician. --DamianJohn 02:40, 8 August 2011 (EDT)

Problem with organization

I don't really understand the logic of this page. The first part is clear enough, a list of politicians who had success in other careers before entering politics, but the second section seems to be talking about something different entirely. Do you mean for "No real influence in politics" to be the opposite category of "significant politicians who had a real career (outside of politics)"? Wouldn't a more logical second category be "Career Politicians," or "Politicians with no real career outside of politics"?

I only ask because I can think of several cases where a politician both had a real career outside politics and were not extremely influential in politics. Sunny Bono comes to mind, an extraordinarily successful musician who did relatively little as a congressman. Ross Perot and Steve Forbes are both successful businessmen who have never managed to break through to meaningful political careers. As others have argued above, Obama can't be considered to have little influence in politics, since the president is by definition the most important politician in the system. However, there is a case to be made that he never had much of a career before entering politics. At least not one befitting a well-connected double Ivy League graduate who has a J.D. from Harvard and worked on the Law Review. JDWpianist 08:28, 8 August 2011 (EDT)

You're right JDW. You'd think that a guy with that kind of pedigree would be doing some really interesting/earth-shattering/high-stakes and high-paying work, maybe in the private sector or in academia, before moving on to politics. Otherwise, what a waste of time and potential. JohnMcL 09:02, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
That's a strange remark, John (or are you being ironic?) Whether you like his brand of politics or not, he's decided to devote his undoubted potential to national-level politics. Seeking elected office in a democracy is a worthy ambition. Why do you regard it as a waste? KhalidM 16:30, 8 August 2011 (EDT)

Duke of Wellington

Confused newcomer here. Why is the 1st Duke of Wellington in the list headed "No clear inluence in politics"? He was the dominant figure on the right of British politics from 1829 to 1848. KhalidM 16:27, 8 August 2011 (EDT)

If explained in the entry, that's a good reason to promote him to the top list.--Andy Schlafly 17:36, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
OK, so I've done this for Wellington and also for MacMillan and Chamberlain. I've left Heseltine, Major and Baldwin in the bottom list - perhaps they're examples of how a significant career before/outside politics doesn't prepare you for high office. KhalidM 19:05, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
Chamberlain was a typical liberal appeaser. He had no clear influence.--Andy Schlafly 19:08, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
I think you need to bring yourself up-to-date on British history. Chamberlain was libelled as an appeaser by the authors of a leftist pamphlet called The Guilty Men, published in 1940. Many of the leftists who wrote the pamphlet were much more strongly in favour of appeasement than Chamberlain was. Churchill admired and trusted him and placed him in charge of domestic policy. KhalidM 19:16, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
(edit conflict) Sorry... what? Chamberlain was a typical inter-war Tory. He hated war and was prepared to do anything to stop it! His only major opponent was the ex-Liberal Winston Churchill! Without Chamberlain, the Czech appeasement deal would never have happened and the war would have been different because Czechoslovakia would have had a chance to defend itself. I really don't see how you can write him off so easily. RobertE 19:18, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
The alternative to Chamberlain as PM in 1937 was Halifax, in which case there would have been more enthusiastic appeasement and no military build-up, and Britain would have become the western outpost of the Reich. No, Chamberlain's judgement in foreign policy wasn't immaculate but considering that his Foreign Secretary was Halifax and that Parliament, especially Labour, was very strongly pro-appeasement, it wasn't as bad as The Guilty Men made out. Your line about "typical inter-war Tory" is incorrect; his achievements in improving working conditions and in economics were genuine. KhalidM 19:27, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
Sorry, but there wasn't really a choice in '37. Baldwin advised the King to send for Chamberlain, and he did. The choice was Halifax vs Churchill a few years later. RobertE 19:32, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
The debate took place within the Tory party. They chose the outstanding domestic politician of the first half of the 20th century although it would shortly become apparent that the expertise the PM would need was in foreign affairs. (But had they chosen the leading foreign affairs expert, history would have been disastrously different...) Modern historians are much less harsh on Chamberlain than their predecessors. If he had stood up to Germany in 1938, he would have given Hitler the opportunity to drag Britain into a war which she could not have won, under-equipped and without the support of France. The Czechoslovak economy and military was relatively strong but too small to resist the Wehrmacht. The real damage was done about 5 years earlier, when Baldwin refused to re-arm. Chamberlain's own policy as PM was the classic, "if you hope for peace, prepare for war" but that doesn't work against a madman. It's now generally understood that Chamberlain did not trust Hitler but felt he had no alternative in the Munich Conference; he certainly had no sympathy with the Nazis, unlike some more aristocratic Tories. It's also widely recognised that his very real achievements as Chancellor put Britain into a position in which rearmament from 1937 onwards was economically possible. KhalidM 18:53, 9 August 2011 (EDT)

Ron Paul

For the benefit of non-US editors, please could someone explain who Ron Paul is. The page describes him as "the single most influential presidential candidate in the past decade". I must say that he's completely unknown in the UK and I don't see that he won many votes in Presidential elections.

The point is to have a benchmark so we know where to add names of the many politicians who've had significant outside careers: why is Ron Paul in the "influential" list and the Duke of Wellington in the "not influential" list? Or for that matter, Neville Chamberlain: he had one of the most influential peace-time careers of any politician in the UK in the 20th century. As Health Minister, he got the first Factory Act passed, a keystone of legislation on safety at work, and as Chancellor, he ensured that Britain had the economic strength and military spending it needed to fight Hitler. Churchill inspired the Spitfire pilots but Chamberlain got the Spitfires built. KhalidM 17:49, 8 August 2011 (EDT)

Significant isn't the same thing as good

Mr Schlafly, as you give history lessons (are you a professional history teacher?) you surely understand that many significant politicians weren't good people. KhalidM 19:12, 8 August 2011 (EDT)

Regarding Heydrich and Lenin: you've now placed them in the category of people whose career outside politics needs discussion. They were both thoroughly evil people but they both had significant careers before going into politics and were both extremely significant (negatively) as politicians. When you say, "Significant politicians", do you mean, "Significant politicians whose policies Andy Schlafly approves of"? Please let me know because if you do, perhaps it would not be a good use of my time or that of other editors to attempt to assist you. KhalidM 19:21, 8 August 2011 (EDT)

Trudeau, Levesque, Parizeau, Mulroney as "undeserving"

By what definition are these four men, who together and in opposition completely changed the political landscape of a country that happens to be our largest trading partner "undeserving"? JohnMcL 19:36, 8 August 2011 (EDT)

I would consider them morally undeserving. Levesque and Parizeau were separatists. Mulroney was corrupt and Trudeau was a socialist. In terms of influence, I might say Levesque because he was the first PQ premier. Trudeau and Mulroney were long serving but did not really do that much to change the country. Parizeau was a failure.

This article isn't about moral purity. Read the title of the article: "Politicians who had a real career." They were politicians. They were important politicians. They had careers before embarking in politics. Therefore, they deserve to be in the article. Your assertion that Trudeau and Mulroney didn't change the country is absurd. Trudeau, if he did nothing else, repatriated the constitution and gave the country the Charter of rights and Freedoms. Mulroney, if he did nothing else, opened the door for the a complete retooling of Canada's concept of a "social safety net." Parizeau might not have succeeded in bringing about Quebec independence, but he came very close, and Quebec-Canada relations have never been the same since 1995; moreover he was the financial brains behind the creation and expansion of "Quebec. Inc in the 1970s and 1980s. JohnMcL 21:38, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
Headlines are concise out of necessity. Implicit in the headline for this entry is the word "influential", as has already been explained before on this talk page. Someone who merely "opened the door" doesn't count; doormen are not counted among the most influential people, unless they do something in addition to opening doors.--Andy Schlafly 21:42, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
Pierre Trudeau wrote a new constitution for Canada. Writing a new constitution for a country is being a doorman? Look at Canada in 1983 when he left office, and look at Canada when Mulroney left office--do those countries look at all the same to you? Look at Quebec in 1976 before Levesque. Look at Quebec when Parizeau left office -- does that look at all like the same place? JohnMcL 21:46, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
Honestly, Canada does look the same to me throughout that period: beautiful landscape, terrific people, but headed in the misguided liberal direction. It's a tragedy.--Andy Schlafly 23:44, 8 August 2011 (EDT)


Is there some special set of criteria here? Why are people like Margaret Thatcher being deleted while others like Lech Walesa are being moved to different sections? It's pretty clear that these two had significant careers before becoming politicians (Thatcher's science background was often referenced during her term as PM). I don't see why they shouldn't make the list, while Michele Bachmann, who has had no career outside politics at all, makes the top list. RobertE 19:36, 8 August 2011 (EDT)

I would suggest including an introductory paragraph at the top, to help clarify what exactly this is about. Certainly, Lech Walesa had a very clear and very real career, so why does he need "further discussion?" It is, I admit, an interesting idea to analyze the pre-politics careers of those that would be our leaders. But I'm not sure of the intentions of this essay nor its contents.--CamilleT 23:24, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
Thatcher did not have a real career outside of government. Majoring in chemistry is not a real career.--Andy Schlafly 23:36, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
Homeschooling 5 kids and helping raise about two-dozen additional foster children, as Michele Bachmann did, is a real career.--Andy Schlafly 23:37, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
I don't consider homeschooling 5 kids and raising foster kids a career. Nothing against homeschooling, but anyone can do it (although its hard to do it well). Same with raising foster kids. In Canada, most of the foster parents are on welfare and take in kids because the money does not come off of their cheques. Do they have careers ? Bachmann has two law degrees and was a successful lawyer. That is not something everyone could do. That is what I would call a career--PeterNant 18:01, 9 August 2011 (EDT)

Lech Walesa may merit the top list. Good point. Perhaps a greater explanation of what his career and political influence were would help.--Andy Schlafly 23:40, 8 August 2011 (EDT)

I really am also very confused - I added the two-term Mayor of New York and the likely GOP Presidential nominee, yet they have "no clear influence in politics"? Sorry, but I don't understand at all - they are both very significant figures? JanW 23:46, 8 August 2011 (EDT)

I am confused as to how Bachmann is considered to have a real career but not Obama? MaxFletcher 23:58, 8 August 2011 (EDT)
I'm confused too. I accept that Chamberlain's later career was controversial but why on earth have (1) Harold MacMillan and (2) Alex Salmond been removed from the top list? (1) Decolonisation of Africa was a big ahievement and (2) like him or loath him, Salmond is probably the most effective politician in the UK today. Perhaps I could politely suggest that the contributions of certain editors are not being made with the benefit of a strong sense of history...? KhalidM 19:06, 9 August 2011 (EDT)


Hi folks. I believe I have just had a fascinating conservative insight, based on the current form of this list. I present it here for your perusal and hope that it will provoke discussion. Noting that there are very few influential liberals in the first list, I conclude that

Nearly all influential liberals are professional politicians. In contrast, many influential conservatives hold "real" jobs prior to entering politics.

This appears to be particularly true among conservatives whose views align with those of the Tea Party. I believe this insight is well-supported by the data presented here, as soon as one has appropriately defined "influential" and "real job". --PhilS33 09:17, 9 August 2011 (EDT)

Superb insight!--Andy Schlafly 09:45, 9 August 2011 (EDT)
Indeed. "As soon as one has appropriately defined 'influential' and 'real job.'" It's all about how you choose to define your terms. JohnMcL 09:47, 9 August 2011 (EDT)
Not necessarily. "Influential" and ""real job" are hardly arcane or technical terms - they are commonly understood by most people. Now of course influence is not a binary quality, but one can certainly say that the more influential, the more likely to have had a real job (or vice versa) without getting bogged down in pedantic definitions.--CPalmer 10:04, 9 August 2011 (EDT)
It seems like this is almost a truism. Those who hold real jobs will gain an understanding of the value of money and the damage caused by over-regulation and high taxes. Thus, they will tend to become more conservative with time. Those who never hold real jobs will have little grasp of the value of a dollar or the harm of government overreach, and will thus tend towards liberalism. It's not unlike the difference between a child who is expected to attend to chores and a part-time job in order to earn spending money, as opposed to one who is spoiled and freely given money without responsibility. The first child will learn to be independent and self-sufficient, while the second will learn to run to mommy and daddy (or, in the case of liberals, the government) with outstretched hands whenever money runs short. --Benp 11:43, 9 August 2011 (EDT)

PhilS's insight looks like a self-fulfilling prophecy as far as this site is concerned. Politicians that conservatives don't approve of aren't included in the list at the top part of the page (or get removed from it as soon as Mr Schlafly spots them). Winston Churchill and Reinhard Heydrich had careers as military officers of about the same length of time and were two of the most influential politicians of any country in the 20th century. Which implies that having a real job before entering politics won't make you the kind of politician decent people would approve of. KhalidM 18:35, 9 August 2011 (EDT)

The list is objective. Winston Churchill was a phenomenal writer and historian, and he had a significant political influence. That obviously warrants the top list. Reinhard Heydrich, in contrast, was an immoral underachiever outside of politics, and the horrific crimes of Nazism continued after Heydrich died at age 38.--Andy Schlafly 22:21, 9 August 2011 (EDT)
The list cannot be considered "objective" for a moment as you say, as long as former US Presidents, current Presidential primary candidates, sitting US Senators and Governors of States are not considered to have had "influence". It seems very strange that you would take such a view, I must say? --JanW 16:31, 10 August 2011 (EDT)

Denis Healey

Denis Healey introduced monetarism to the British economy in the late seventies. If that's not influential, what is?

As for the "obscure or otherwise inept Brits" section, A+ for childish humour, Z-- for political insight ~~Rafael

Hey, I tried to argue that a guy who gave his country a new constitution was influential, and got shot down for no discernable reason. Good luck with this. JohnMcL 11:45, 9 August 2011 (EDT)
The policy of every British Chancellor since 1976, except Gordon Brown, has essentially followed Healey's policies. He's much more highly regarded - including by conservatives - and has been much more influential in the long term than either Wilson or Callahan, the PMs in whose cabinets he served. KhalidM 18:57, 9 August 2011 (EDT)
I've put DH back in the top list. KhalidM 19:02, 9 August 2011 (EDT)


Can Mandela be said to have had a 'real' career before politics? He was an aristocrat who ran away from an arranged marriage and worked for a few years as a solicitors clerk after being fired from manual employment. Hardly a career... Jcw 12:15, 9 August 2011 (EDT)

I see your point. It's not like he played a sport or sang songs, you know, really important careers. JohnMcL 12:21, 9 August 2011 (EDT)
I'd say that being a popular singer is more significant than being fired from a factory and failing the law exams, especially given Mandela's privileged background. Jcw
I agree. So unless anyone objects, I'll remove Mandela from the list in the next few days because, although he was an extraodinarily influential politician, he had no real other career. - JamesCA, August 15 2011
I've removed him now. - JamesCA 02:17, 17 August 2011 (EDT)


"(I don't think the KGB is a career outside of government)", but Washington's military career, which was certainly a government job, counts? I too am confused. ACork 17:25, 9 August 2011 (EDT)

Washington is listed for reasons more than his brilliant military career which, by the way, was not a government job like the KGB.--Andy Schlafly 22:10, 9 August 2011 (EDT)
So, 'working for The Government' can mean different things when applied to different people. Sounds very like Orwell's (that good working class Conservative) Newspeak. As you are moving the goalposts depending whether the person fits your agenda or not I'll leave you to it. By the way, both Churchill and Thatcher were Atheists. Godspeed ACork 12:35, 10 August 2011 (EDT)
A mostly volunteer army is hardly "the government" in the same sense that career KGB functionaries are. And, as I said, Washington had a distinguished career in land development.--Andy Schlafly 23:59, 10 August 2011 (EDT)

"What is a beach-master"?

Surprised a history teacher doesn't know this. It's a military officer in charge of a section of beach during an amphibious invasion. He's the guy who's in charge of making sure everything/everybody that lands on his section of the beach goes where it's supposed to and is responsible for keeping things running in a smooth and unobstructed manner. JohnMcL 22:26, 9 August 2011 (EDT)

OK, that seems clear enough, thanks ... but if it isn't more what you describe, then I don't think it qualifies as a significant career for the purposes of this list.--Andy Schlafly 00:15, 10 August 2011 (EDT)
Well, I heard a radio interview with Healey in which he spoke extensively and movingly about Anzio. If you don't think it counts as significant work experience, I really pity you. Please have more respect for the armed forces. KhalidM 15:28, 11 August 2011 (EDT)


What part of his career is there to discuss? He was an officer from more or less the midway point of WWI and kept getting promoted until he was made "Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe" culminating in the organisation and leading of D Day. He then became NATO supreme commander in Europe from 1951 until he ran for president in 1954. And that's just the highlights! I understand that Ike is not popular on this site, but lets not pretend that he didn't have a significant pre politics career. The very reason he won two landslide elections was because of his pre-politics career. Unless someone can give a coherent argument to the contrary, I will move him up to the top section. (And I don't think it can be argued he didn't have influence - his role in ending the Korean war, his moderating the demands of the Taft led senate all point to a significant influence, for good or bad). --DamianJohn 03:03, 10 August 2011 (EDT)

Without objection; it is so moved. --DamianJohn 15:07, 10 August 2011 (EDT)

RE: John Major

John Major was downgraded, and described as inept and obscure. I'd like to make a couple of points. John Major left school at 16, with only 3 O-levels. But he studied hard by correspondence course, and taught himself three more: 'British Constitution,' 'Economics,' 'Mathematics.' He helped with his father's small, failing business, and worked as a clerk. His father died, and that year, he joined the Young Conservatives, got a job with the London Electricity Board (and studied banking by correspondence while working a full time job). He became a banker with Standard Chartered Bank and became a senior executive who traveled across Africa for them. He famously began making speeches about economic conservative principles, standing on a box, at his local market, and became a Conservative Member of Parliament. He went on to be Chancellor of the Exchequer under Thatcher, and succeeded her as Prime Minister.

To me, somebody who didn't do very well at school, but worked very hard to better himself, and became a senior banking executive (remember that getting into such jobs without Oxford/Cambridge education or family connections is very difficult), then became the director of economic policy under THATCHER and then went onto be Prime Minister is a veritable conservative legend, who indeed had a solid career. He could, certainly, have earned more as a banking executive than as a politician.

Now, let's talk about influence. If directing economic policy under Thatcher isn't influence enough, lets talk about other things. He famously convinced George Bush Sr to support no fly zones in the Gulf War. If convincing the American President of something isn't influence, what is? In 1992, with Major as Leader, the conservative party gained more votes than any other British political party has ever gained in an election. More than Thatcher or Churchill ever gained! Major's Back to Basics campaign emphasized the family values which sadly were absent from the last few years of Thatcher's administration. John major did as much to solve the Northern Ireland problems as anybody else: And lets remember, that's one of the most successful cases of defeating terrorism ever. AlycaZ 23:32, 10 August 2011 (EDT)

You state your arguments very well. Thanks - I learned from your comments. But what is John Major's influence? It seems Major didn't recognize the importance of social issues ... and perhaps his somewhat traditional career was part of the problem. Most on the list have unique careers that enable them to bring something insightful to politics.--Andy Schlafly 23:56, 10 August 2011 (EDT)
Did you not read the last paragraph or something, Andy? The editor gave a nice synopsis on Major's influence, including his recognition of social issues." If directing economic policy under Thatcher isn't influence enough, lets talk about other things. He famously convinced George Bush Sr to support no fly zones in the Gulf War. If convincing the American President of something isn't influence, what is? In 1992, with Major as Leader, the conservative party gained more votes than any other British political party has ever gained in an election. More than Thatcher or Churchill ever gained! Major's Back to Basics campaign emphasized the family values which sadly were absent from the last few years of Thatcher's administration. John major did as much to solve the Northern Ireland problems as anybody else: And lets remember, that's one of the most successful cases of defeating terrorism ever. JohnMcL 09:19, 11 August 2011 (EDT)
'solve the Northern Ireland problems'? I'm no expert, but I'm fairly sure NI's problems are far from solved. Jcw 10:41, 11 August 2011 (EDT)
1.He didn't say he "solved" them, he said he did as much to solve (them) as anybody else. There's a difference. 2. While Northern Ireland is hardly "solved," credit where credit is due: it's much more peaceful there now than it was for a long, long time. JohnMcL 10:45, 11 August 2011 (EDT)
Well quite. That's rather weak praise, don't you think? He contributed 'as much as anyone' - not the most, just 'as much as' others, to the improving - not the solving - of a problem. Jcw 10:53, 11 August 2011 (EDT)
I have no opinion on Major one way or the other. I'm just taken aback at the fundamentally poor basic reading comprehension displayed in this thread. JohnMcL 11:03, 11 August 2011 (EDT)
I certainly support the claim that he "did as much to solve the Northern Ireland problems as anybody else". Bliar tends to get the credit for the Good Friday Agreement but much of the hard work was done by John Major and was completed by the excellent Mo Mowlam (whose success in N.Ireland made Bliar insanely jealous of her...) KhalidM 15:27, 11 August 2011 (EDT)
I don't doubt that John Major had some influence, but nothing cited above rises to the level of political influence of the others on the top list. And, alas, his tenure in power seemed to end in failure, with very little lasting influence even in Britain. Unfortunately, long-term failure can happen when one ignores the social issues and instead pretends that foreign and economic policies are all that matter.--Andy Schlafly 00:40, 12 August 2011 (EDT)

His party's collapse in the elections of 1997 was down to the "sleaze factor": too many of his party had their hand in the till. To say his achievements (the extensive - and radical even by Margaret Thatcher's standards - privatisation of nationalised businesses, taking sterling out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, the Maastricht treaty, extensive reform of the civil service, laying the groundwork for the Good Friday Agreement etc) are of very little lasting influence seems like a hurried comment and not a considered and researched oneRafael

Regarding the USA politicians in the top list, you've got one (Ron Johnson) whose major achievement so far is rejecting some judicial nominees (did he make constructive suggestions for alternatives?), one (Rick Scott) described as an innovative local government official and one (Michele Bachmann) who sounds like a wannabe President (sounds a bit like B.H.O. ...?) Set against these, you have to forgive Brits who think that John Major had some significant achievements, especially in Northern Ireland. And (thanks for reminding us, Rafael), almost the whole country with the exception of Bliar is delighted he got us out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism. KhalidM 15:27, 12 August 2011 (EDT)
I think a lot of good points have been made, but I'd like to present a new argument: John Major cemented conservatism in Britain. Thatcher's administration was a whirlwind of reform and change with many privatisations. While Thatcher was indeed brilliant, she became an incredibly divisive figure and, had things continued (remember the poll tax riots), Thatcher as leader in 1992 may well have seriously lost the election: and an incoming Labour government could well have renationalised (at least some) industries - either way, it would be a point for debate. John Major was a much less divisive figure. By taking over as Prime Minister, a line was drawn under the Thatcher era, and it was his role to cement it. Thatcher continuing as Prime Minister could certainly have led to a Labour majority reversing some or all of her work. Major's 5 years as a 'steady' Prime Minister, without the huge upheaval and reform cemented the idea that no government would nationalise industries. In fact, Labour could only win the 1997 election by promising that. This was something of a rebirth for the Conservative Party, and let's not forget that William Hague was first a minister under him, and David Cameron personally worked with him. He also promoted Iain Duncan Smith and Ken Clarke - he was certainly influential in shaping the influential British conservatives of today. So I think his influence can be summed up as follows:
  1. Significant and successful work towards peace in Northern Ireland.
  2. Fighting tooth-and-nail for Britain's right to remain a member of the European Union, but not join the Euro. Joining the Euro, as Blair later wanted, would have ruined the country.
  3. Played a very important role in the fact that Britain's industries are now privately owned, not nationally owned. If Thatcher had continued until she lost, we may have seen a reversal of this.
  4. Played a very important part in shaping the Conservative 'line up' today.
  5. Directed Thatcher's economic policy for over a year.

In the late 80s, the Conservative party was considered the 'nasty party' and a swing of a few percent in an election would've seen Labour get back in. It was only by having a mild-mannered, less divisive figure that Thatcherism became cemented. "We're all Thatcherites now," as Peter Mandelson said. From a conservative point of view, having influenced Thatcher's policies AND influenced the line up of modern conservative figures, he is a big hitter. I think that if the UK was in the Euro, everybody would be blaming John Major right now. But he made the right decision, and fought for it, and that is affecting the UK's GDP recovery to this day. AlycaZ 21:34, 13 August 2011 (EDT)

Thanks for the interesting analysis. John Major apparently had some significance, but part of this is speculative ("If Thatcher had continued until she lost ...") and several of the policies probably would have continued with or without Major (e.g., keeping the pound out of the Euro). So I doubt that Major's marginal significance rises to the level of the other listed politicians.--Andy Schlafly 23:40, 13 August 2011 (EDT)
Andy, please read and pay attention to what other British editors have written. Thatcher would undoubtedly have lost an election in 1992, giving us Neil Kinnock for Prime Minister (aargh!!), John Smith as Chancellor who would have increased taxes and no-one with the guts to take Britain out of the ERM. (Remember that even now, Bliar, who was the rising star in 1992, is even now saying that Britain should have joined and should now join the Euro - what an idiot.) KhalidM 10:43, 14 August 2011 (EDT)
I appreciate your insights and have learned from them. That said, John Major was a "status quo" type of politician who quickly departed from political discourse as soon as he was voted out of office. There is not much lasting influence there.--Andy Schlafly 17:22, 14 August 2011 (EDT)

Mustafa Kemal

I regards to Mustafa Kemal I personally think that his longstanding service record in the Turkish forces and his driving force in the Young Turks movement makes him a certain candidate for a politician who had a real career. No peanut farming or so-called organizing for him. A proud member of his country's armed forces. --TaylorH 23:47, 10 August 2011 (EDT)

You may be right. Honestly, I don't know enough about Kemal's career to say. Was his military career distinguished?--Andy Schlafly 23:57, 10 August 2011 (EDT)

I am aware that he won twenty four medals throughout his career. Primarily awarded for distinguished service during the First World War. As well as one awarded during the war of independence. His military command record is a mixed bag i believe. Though by all accounts he seems to have been a good commander and a dutiful soldier. --TaylorH 00:03, 11 August 2011 (EDT)

 : Also I for his significance in history it should be his role in creating modern Turkey and making ties with the West. Its a nation that until recently had resisted the allure of Islamic extremism. --TaylorH 00:06, 11 August 2011 (EDT)
Thanks for the history - please add him to the top list with your explanations. Please note, however, that I'm reluctant to open the door to every politician who served in the military. That would be a very long list indeed.--Andy Schlafly 00:20, 11 August 2011 (EDT)
I have added him to the top list with explanation and note that he created a democratic Turkish state. Would abolishing the monarchy also qualify? --TaylorH 00:27, 11 August 2011 (EDT)
Kemalist Turkey wasn't a democratic nation. Kemalist Turkey was a single-party state that didn't tolerate anyone a embracing non-Turkish identity (Armenians, Greeks, and Kurds) or wishing to practice their religion and traditions without government interference. Thousands of Armenians and Greeks were killed or deported. Kemalist Turkey also embraced a sort of nationalistic socialism and statism. Kemalist Turkey also had close ties with the Soviets prior to WW2. I'm a fan of the Turkish people and their rich culture, but I'm not a fan of their government's history. --Michaeldsuarez 17:14, 14 August 2011 (EDT)


I've done some revision of the essay in line with discussion on this Talk Page. My changes aren't very dramatic. E.g. I've left Jim Bunning in the top list even though he's practically unknown outside the USA, I've reluctantly left Chamberlain in the second list because I accept that his major achievements in domestic policy are eclipsed by his ambiguous and often misunderstood record in foreign policy, and I've left Heydrich in the third list because even though he fits the criteria of a significant career before politics and major "achievements" (of a kind) in politics, he was utterly awful and revolting. KhalidM 15:58, 12 August 2011 (EDT)

Michele Bachmann

For the benefit of non-Americans to whom she's totally unknown, please could someone (Andy Schlafly?) explain what Michele Bachmann has achieved in politics that places her on a par with Churchill, Reagan or Ataturk? KhalidM 18:05, 13 August 2011 (EDT)

This is a list of "Politicians Who Had a Real Career." Michele Bachmann certainly had a real career, and she's influential in the current presidential election cycle as well as Congress. It's interesting that news outside the U.S. seem to be ignoring her. Typically the lamestream media will either ignore a real conservative or try to demonize that person. In the U.S., the media are doing the latter.--Andy Schlafly 18:37, 13 August 2011 (EDT)
You've put her in the list of "significant politicians". Please tell us what's so significant about her. (Obama was influential in the previous presidential election cycle!) I don't think media outside the USA are ignoring her; in the UK, they tend not to pay much attention to inexperienced politicians who are wannabe Presidents. Obama didn't get much attention here until around February 2008. KhalidM 18:54, 13 August 2011 (EDT)
This list is not about titles, or who won or lost a particular election. It's about influence. Obama is simply trying to be reelected. That's not influence. Bachmann, in contrast, is framing the debate and moving the entire process to the more conservative side, as illustrated as recently as Thursday night when she essentially eliminated media-favorite Tim Pawlenty from contention with her response to his criticism.--Andy Schlafly 19:00, 13 August 2011 (EDT)
Also, Michelle Bachmann is one of the leading figures of the Tea Party. You wouldn't argue that the tea party isn't influential, would you? Well Bachmann has been one of the main reasons why it has stayed at the front of the political scene.--MorrisF 19:28, 13 August 2011 (EDT)
OK, understood. If influence in shaping the debate is the main factor in determining influence, I would move at least the following from List 2 to List 1:

Bush (shaped debate on how to deal with international terrorism) Chamberlain (how can economic growth contribute to achieving peace or preparing for war) Eisenhower (how to deal with communist expansionism) Healey (how to achieve long-term economic stability by control of the money supply) Kemp (how to drive prosperity by cutting taxes) Lévesque (how far should distinct language groups have autonomy) Major (how to achieve peace in a situation of civil strife by consensus) Macmillan (how to decolonise empire) Rice (as Bush Jr) Salmond (how far should small, economically successful nations have independence) Trudeau (how far should independent constitutions be seen as a sign of national maturity). All these names were people of considerable experience of life and work outside politics and brought fresh ideas to framing debates of the highest importance (which is your criterion for putting Bachmann in List 1). I'll leave this posting here for a couple of hours before moving them all to List 1 in case of any reasoned objections. KhalidM 10:37, 14 August 2011 (EDT)

I do object to equating the minor influence of the persons you list with the major influence of those in the first category. Virtually none of the people you list is cited today by many speakers or writers for having any political influence. Contrast that with Reagan, who is still frequently mentioned for his influence.--Andy Schlafly 12:42, 14 August 2011 (EDT)
Andy, Reagan isn't the issue. The issue is why the likes of Michele Bachmann, Jim Bunning, Jimmie Davis, Rand Paul and Ron Paul are in the top list. They simply don't stand comparison with Reagan, Walesa, Ataturk, Wellington or many of the names I mentioned above. Or is your list of 'Significant conservative [i.e. conservative in the sense used in the USA] politicians'? Rather than politicians in general. KhalidM 14:44, 14 August 2011 (EDT)
You still seem to be missing the point. All of the people you are labeling as insignificant (with the exception of maybe Jim Bunning and Jimmie Davis) are currently shaping the face of politics today. Ron Paul has made the idea of small government conservativism, which was considered out of the question a few years ago, one of the most popular causes today. Bachmann and Rand Paul are leading the tea party movement, which is arguably the most powerful shaping force in American politics today. I notice you didn't answer my question above; you wouldn't call the tea party non influential, would you?--MorrisF 16:25, 14 August 2011 (EDT)
I have no idea if the Tea Party is or will be influential. Better to wait until after the next General Election before you decide, perhaps? And in the long term, better to wait 10 years? John Major's standing has been steading revised upwards in the 14 years since he left office. KhalidM 16:37, 14 August 2011 (EDT)
I really hope you're joking. Did you pay attention to the 2010 midterm elections? The debt ceiling debate? The tea party has already profoundly shaped American politics, and this is incredibly likely to continue as American's grow more and more frustrated with Obama's policies.--MorrisF 16:58, 14 August 2011 (EDT)
So shall we wait and see whether the Tea Party (and Michele Bachmann) is a long-term influence or a short-term blip? I'm really amazed by how much Americans want their senior national politicians to have no significant experience of learning how to negotiate in Washington in order to get their policies accepted, and by how quickly momentum builds up behind such complete unknowns - like Obama and now Bachmann. KhalidM 17:12, 14 August 2011 (EDT)
Alright, clearly we're not getting anywhere here. I personally believe the Tea Party has already proven itself to be incredibly influential, and the quickness of that is probably largely due to its grassroots nature. But I think we need some input from other editors here clearly.--MorrisF 17:23, 14 August 2011 (EDT)
Politics is about the future, not the past, and Bachmann is hardly a "complete unknown[]." Bachmann's views and voting record have been well-known for years.--Andy Schlafly 17:22, 14 August 2011 (EDT)
Four of them. MrMorganH 20:46, 14 August 2011 (EDT)
I'll buy you a pint of the Schlafly family's finest if President Bachmann doesn't find it as difficult to negotiate with stroppy Democrats as Obama does with stroppy Republicans. KhalidM 18:08, 14 August 2011 (EDT)
I appreciate your wit! But the reality is that a principled conservative can get good laws passed by Democratic Congresses better than RINOs can, as Reagan illustrated. Moreover, Bachmann's coattails could bring in a conservative Congress. We'll see. But regardless, Bachmann's influence is substantial already.--Andy Schlafly 20:45, 14 August 2011 (EDT)


Given the radicalism of Obamacare, surely someone must have exerted considerable political influence to get it passed. If not Obama, then who? --MarioD 19:52, 13 August 2011 (EDT)

The liberal media. Jcw 19:56, 13 August 2011 (EDT)
"Obamacare" -- a named that some liberals complain about -- was surely not Obama's idea, and he certainly did not draft it. There are other liberals in government and the media.--Andy Schlafly 20:23, 13 August 2011 (EDT)

Why is Michelle Bachmann the only one who has her jobs listed in a footnote as opposed to in the body of the article?

Is there something special about Bachmann's legal career that warrants it being relegated to a footnote? She WAS a practicing lawyer, right? MrMorganH 15:49, 14 August 2011 (EDT)

I'm sure, like most people, Bachmann has worked in several various jobs over a period of several decades. Those other jobs are not the "career" that earns her the top category.--Andy Schlafly 17:45, 14 August 2011 (EDT)
She was a tax attorney for the IRS for 5 years. I think that is considered a career and not some "various job". Also Michele Bachmann prides herself as being a former tax attorney when she's interviewed. So it needs to be stated and not footnoted (ie shuffled to the backbench), I don't think it will delineate from her years of being a mother to many foster children. -- Austenbosten 00:04, 24 August 2011 (EDT)
No, a mere 5-year job is not a "real career." Homeschooling 5 kids and helping raise 23 foster children is far more substantial.--Andy Schlafly 00:10, 24 August 2011 (EDT)
On the 5-year note, Bachmann has only been a Congresswoman for 4 1/2 years. President Bush (Snr.) was President for 4 years. Sarah Palin was Governor for 2 1/2 years. So length of time isn't the only thing that indicates whether something is a real career. Also, how is raising foster children classed as a career? Of course it is impactful, and substantial. However, I can't think of a case where doing something that doesn't earn money would be classed as a career. (I am NOT saying what she has done is worthless, just questioning whether it falls within the definition of career, because to have a career, you firstly have to be employed.) - JamesCA 07:50, 24 August 2011 (EDT)
Could her being a business owner of Bachmann & Associates be classified as a career, since well she and her husband own it. I'm not trying to spark any heated argument, but I feel that putting her professional accomplishments as a footnote delineates her from the other entries, also if 5 years does not constitute as a "real career" then Ronald Reagan's one-year Presidency of the SAG, should be deleted. Also if someone could post a guideline for what constitutes as a "real career" that would be very helpful. -- Austenbosten 23:40, 24 August 2011 (EDT)
The footnote for Bachmann could probably be best deleted. The careers in the top category are something influential or remarkable, not merely holding a job somewhere.--Andy Schlafly 00:44, 25 August 2011 (EDT)

Suggestion for no-consensus category

Perhaps it would be a good idea to add a list which includes those who we have not reached a consensus about? With a note as to whether the disagreement is with regards to influence, or whether they had a real career, (or both). Suggestions for the list that I've noticed so far: Barack Obama (influence), Michele Bachmann (influence and career). And then remove these from the other lists until/if a consensus is reached. I have noticed the 'needs more discussion' section, but the no-consensus section would be only for those where a (lengthy) discussion is ongoing, and it seems unlikely that a consensus will be reached in the near future. (In contrast to Nelson Mandela, which there appears to be a consensus that he had no real other career, and only after a short discussion.) - JamesCA, August 15 2011

Thanks for the suggestion, but objective truth is not defined by consensus. Bachmann's influence and career can hardly be doubted, and just because some may not like giving her full credit that would not justify demoting her.--Andy Schlafly 20:42, 14 August 2011 (EDT)

Jimmie Davis

...appears in two lists. Someone who has heard of him should decide whether or not he was (is?) significant. KhalidM 16:31, 15 August 2011 (EDT)

Great point. He should be removed from the top list. I'll do so now.--Andy Schlafly 17:31, 15 August 2011 (EDT)


Andy, Maggie Thatcher's career before politics was more substantial than you suggest. She worked for 6 years as an industrial chemist in the food industry, developing emulsifiers for ice cream (think of that each time you dip into the freezer section of the supermarket - she had a pretty big influence in the food industry, let alone politics!) She then worked for 6 years as a barrister before becoming an MP in the 1959 general election. I'm going to restore her to the top list. If you don't agree, please give a reasoned argument. You can hardly suggest she wasn't significant! KhalidM 18:23, 15 August 2011 (EDT)

More is required than that; others on the list had far more significant careers.--Andy Schlafly 20:12, 15 August 2011 (EDT)
You'd better delete Churchill from the top list then. He was a cavalry officer for only 6 years before retiring from the army and entering politics. His career as an writer only began properly long after he began his career in politics; by the time he wrote his first well-known books, My Early Life and Marlborough, he had already been Home Secretary, First Lord of the Admiralty, Minister of War and Chancellor of the Exchequer (note to yankees: that's like being in charge of homeland security, the navy, the army and the treasury). KhalidM 16:57, 16 August 2011 (EDT)

M.A. Jinnah

"Jinnah's influence needs more explanation"???!!! Please read what I wrote: "Successful lawyer; later one of the three main leaders of the Indian independence movement, with Gandhi and Nehru, and founder of Pakistan." What can I say? Regarding his career, he was a successful lawyer for 31 years before becoming a member of the legislature. He has been universally recognised in his lifetime and ever since as the leading muslim in the movement for Indian independence (something that affects a fifth of the world's population!) The founding of Pakistan, in which he was the driving force, has had incalculable consequences for the history of the world post-WW2. Well, I'll leave this a little to see if anyone can provide a counter-argument but I certainly can't think of a reason for not putting him in the top list. KhalidM 18:40, 15 August 2011 (EDT)

I don't reject it, but more explanation is needed in the entry. I'm not aware that his contribution to the independence of India was on par with Gandhi or politicians in England.--Andy Schlafly 20:12, 15 August 2011 (EDT)
I've added more explanation without making the explanation excessively long. I should point out (again) that the contributions of some of the American politicians in the top list are less-than-obvious to someone from outside the USA. KhalidM 17:06, 16 August 2011 (EDT)
Citation to Jinnah's career in law added as requested by Andy. KhalidM 18:53, 17 August 2011 (EDT)


SeanS: no-one responded to what I said about Churchill's career before politics (see under Thatcher, above). I'll leave it a bit (it's bedtime here) and have a look at what others say tomorrow. KhalidM 18:56, 16 August 2011 (EDT)

No-one has responded to my comment above for 24 hours so I've moved Churchill (again) to the list of people whose careers before politics need further consideration. If Thatcher's career before politics wasn't substantial enough to merit being in the top list, Churchill's certainly wasn't. KhalidM 18:50, 17 August 2011 (EDT)

Jimmy Carter

I'd be inclined to put President Carter into the "significant career" box. Older folks tell me he was a flop as a President but he's been a big achiever in his post-Presidential career, especially promoting democracy in countries which were previously dictatorships - something which conservatives can surely applaud, even if we don't approve of a lot of things he did as President. What do other CPers think? StaceyT 17:16, 6 January 2013 (EST)