Creation of a diversified body politic will benefit the American public

Whenever we see a politician delivering an important speech to the public, it usually consists of one of the following topics: economics, the standard of living, social problems or international relations. The speech may blossom with moving rhetoric, but frequently it lacks  poignant insight in several of the aforementioned fields. This is due to a lack of well-rounded politicians within our government, with a broader educational experience that represents the multiple aspects of the society it governs.

We need politicians with a variety of backgrounds not only to better remedy disproportionate representation within Congress, but more importantly to ensure that our government knows what exactly it is governing. This would foster enlightened governance over a systematic manipulation of the system itself by government officials focused on furthering their political career rather than effectively advancing or reforming our society.

Several sources, including the Princeton Review, confirm the glaringly obvious fact that a significant majority of our government consists of former lawyers—around 75 percent overall. Aside from a graduate degree in law and occasionally medicine, the most common undergraduate degrees within Congress are history, political science, and economics, followed by business, English and pre-med.

Knowledge of these fields are important and helpful when functioning as a politician within the government, and when coming up with strategies to increase one’s influence within the system. But what about the society and the individuals outside of the political arena—the ones being governed?

The majority of politicians should have backgrounds in sociology or anthropology to understand interactions between societies and reasonably handle international and domestic relations. Also, they should be versed in psychology to understand individual human wants, needs, fears, beliefs and the reasoning behind them to better interact with the public in an honest and effective manner.

Finally, they should know about biology and ecology to understand the source of the resulting behavior and its effects between systems.

Compare the government and the society to the world of science. It is often possible to control factors within a science lab experiment, and possibly draw conclusions from the results. But in the field, natural interactions add incredible complexity that must be taken into account when applying lab conclusions and making predictions about the real world.

The same goes for the government. Knowledge of how to work the political system will only take one as far as the political system. But the conclusions drawn within this system cannot sufficiently account for the complexity of society, with its countless and various exchanges, multilateral systems and cultural differences, however small. In every situation, context must be taken into account.

The real world is so complex that it must be incredibly difficult to pin down solutions to society’s problems without creating more. For example, the cutting of Planned Parenthood funds is seen as a blatantly ignorant move by millions of women as well as health professionals who have experience with Planned Parenthood’s services and its positive effect on society. If politicians knew more about women’s health issues, they would govern differently.

The public itself must also be aware of this education gap. The vast majority of elected politicians have limited degrees, but it is the public that elects them. When Ralph Nader diverted from his field of history and political science and attempted to educate the public about ecology and significant environmental issues, as well as campaigning for attention to these issues as he ran for president, he met his match in the twinkly-eyed face of George W. Bush, who used his knowledge of business and deal-making rhetoric to sway the public to his end.

Nader was not trusted because he deviated from the norm, despite that he deviated in a more humanistic direction. Al Gore must have been aware of this public phenomenon in his 2000 campaign: he did not fervently express his views on environmental and human rights issues until after he was no longer a candidate for the presidency.

Therefore, it is important that citizens be aware both of their needs as human beings and the rhetoric that attempts to manipulate them. Politicians who do not have sufficient knowledge of the world’s non-political systems, but do have the skills to lead and thrive in the political system, should absolutely be a part of it.

Well-roundedness is one of the basic tenets of enlightenment. Aspiring politicians should consider this when determining their path to the political arena, and they should consider the background knowledge that would be truly helpful in achieving their preferred effect on the world to the greatest extent.