Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Elections

Who is the Most Qualified Presidential Candidate Ever?

Many Hillary Clinton supporters respond to accusations from Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump that Clinton is “not qualified” by counter-asserting that she is the “most qualified candidate ever”. Now, these people are often using “qualified” to refer to very different things–Sanders said Clinton was not qualified because she takes money from Super PACs and Trump says she’s not qualified because of her judgment, but when Clinton supporters use the term “qualified” they aren’t denying that she took Super PAC money or even necessarily arguing that she has good judgment. The claim that Clinton is most qualified is made as if it were a statement of obvious fact–it reads not like a nuanced argument about judgment but more like a fact claim about experience. Clinton is said to be “most qualified” because she has the most and the best experience of anyone, and the people saying this do so with a confidence that indicates they don’t think it’s close. This strikes me as a pretty bold historical claim, so I decided to investigate to see where Clinton ranks for experience and to see whether experience has a significant effect on the way historians think about a president’s performance.

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The Election is Distracting Us From the Issues

If you look at any major American news website right now, the lead story (and in some cases nearly all the stories) will be about the 2016 election. This has been true for about a year, and we still have another 6 months or so until November. Initially it feels as if this election coverage is going somewhere useful–candidates choose to run on different issues, and that gets us talking about those issues and about the various policy proposals to deal with them. But as time goes on and the field narrows, the candidates stop throwing out new ideas and start going after each other in a prolonged trench war that is more about character attacks than it is about the issues. But this doesn’t bother readers–readers remain far happier to click on election-related content than on any other sort of content. Even reduced purely to soap opera, election politics beats nearly every other kind of politics. Media outlets have caught on to this–because you get more hits and clicks covering the election than you do covering anything else, the media is forced to supply you with an unending stream of political stories, many of which are repetitive and don’t contribute much of value to any sort of public debate, lest they lose market share to competitors.

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