Difference between revisions of "Talk:Essay:Politicians Who Had a Real Career"

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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". --[[User:PhilS33|PhilS33]] 09:17, 9 August 2011 (EDT)
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". --[[User:PhilS33|PhilS33]] 09:17, 9 August 2011 (EDT)
:Superb insight!--[[User:Aschlafly|Andy Schlafly]] 09:45, 9 August 2011 (EDT)

Revision as of 08:45, 9 August 2011

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)

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 the 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)


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)

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)
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)


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)