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Column: The Political Experience Fallacy

This story was written by Joseph Bui, Daily Californian

When John McCain released a campaign ad implying that Barack Obama was nothing more than Paris Hilton with pants commentators across the country made it official: political silly season had begun! Once again, it looks like I'm the only one who sees the light. Because that declaration? Dead wrong.

If you're all worked up at this point, convinced that I must be pretty full of myself to defend the Republican attack machine, simma' down. I am full of myself, but let's make this clear: I'm not defending the GOP. It would take a suspension of disbelief to ignore their glaring hypocrisy. If your goal is to show that your opponent is this policy lightweight, winning because his supporters double as groupies, it's flat-out stupid to focus on turning him into a caricature instead of going after him where it should count: public policy.

What I mean is the notion that there's an official start to political silly season is ... well ... silly. Politics is inherently silly, whack and mind-alterting. Just this year, millions of voters of all party affiliations have lost the ability to think on their own ... at least until November.

And I'm not just talking about the diehards like that guy in Berkeley who drives around with a life-size cut-out of Saint Obama on the roof of his car; the hockey moms who have suddenly picked up a dumb yet endearing accent while proudly identifying themselves as pit bulls; or the creepiest example, the LaRouche Revolutionaries on college campuses across the country who don't seem to get that they've been brainwashed by a completely insane, anti-Semitic cult leader.

Losing the ability to think independently during election season is something that impacts the everyday voter, from the college student who just wears an Obama-Biden pin on her T-shirt to the working class "Joe Sixpack" who both vice presidential candidates tried so desperately to sound like during the debate last week.

Case in point: Almost immediately after Obama wrapped up the nomination, so many McCain supporters became adamant that Obama's thin resume would spell Armageddon disaster. The problems of this world aren't going to be solved by soaring speeches from that warm and fuzzy change guy. We live in a world with real-life boogeymen, from nuclear-weapon carrying dictators like North Korea's Kim Jong-il to freedom-hating terrorists like Osama Bin Laden. Their argument in short: the U.S. presidency is too big a job to be an internship.

But what blows my mind is how these same voters seem to think the job description for vice president, said to be a heartbeat away from the top gig in the world, can be. Despite also having only two years of "meaningful" experience, and practically zip when it comes to foreign policy (unless of course you're inclined to believe that being able to see Russia from your house is relevant), the same voters who had previously clung to the experience card have now fallen head over heels for the "Washington Outsider" who they call "The Saracuda."

Not that I'm letting my party affiliation ironically blind me from seeing that the Dems aren't just as guilty of "selective reasoning." Thanks to a primary that had already pitted experience versus change, experience became this dirty word among the Church of Obama, associated with the ugly corruption of D.C. and the status quo-well, at least until the running mate selections. Obama fans called the Biden pick smart because the very first quality they now claimed to look for in a candidate was readiness to lead. And McCain? He made this completely dangerous choice in the resume-challenged Palin and "just" because he wanted to win how dare he!

It drives me completely off the wall to hear anyone absolutely idolize or demonize any of the presidential cndidates. Cause really, just by virtue of being able to succeed in the mudfest that is U.S. politics, neither candidate can be this holier-than-thou figure that their supporters often see them as.

So to the millions who I've now demonized as partisan phonies, let me say this: I get that supporting a politician can be an incredibly personal and passionate thing. And I'm not going to stand on my soap box and say that you owe anyone you perceive as the political enemy an objective viewpoint. I just want to keep it real. If you hate a candidate, fine. Claiming that it's because of his or her experience? Bull.

If this election has taught us one thing, it's that when you're pitting two candidates with drastically different platforms, voters aren't actually comparing resumes.

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