The Fallacy of Electing an Outsider

In 2014 the Georgia GOP Senate primary drew 5 contenders and after a runoff, David Perdue emerged as the nominee and eventual victor over Democrat Michelle Nunn. Much of Senator Perdue’s appeal in the primary, runoff and general elections was his earlier business experience and his “outsider” status. The promise of running government as a business, being “outside” the establishment and ultimately getting things done was intoxicating then. And it continues to intoxicate in the elections of 2016.

It is commonly accepted as the solution to our broken legislative and executive branches but is there any empirical evidence that an outsider performs any better than an experienced legislator?

While I like Senator Perdue and voted for him in the general election, the concept that a successful businessperson and an outsider actually gets things done withers upon examination. According to the website, the 114th Congress (2015-16) has dealt with 203 actionable items in the form of resolutions, bills and amendments thus far. Senator Perdue has sponsored 8 amendments with no action, 6 pieces of legislation none of which have even had an initial committee hearing and one resolution (supporting National Assistant Principals Week) which passed unanimously.

I realize it has only been 16 months but we are drawing near to the summer recess, elections and a lame duck session with little promise of any more meaningful legislation. I know is it a small sample – one freshman Senator out a 100. I admit that the Senate works more like a private debating society than an actual working legislative body. But it seems that an outsider is no more effective than Thad Cochran who has served in the Senate for 43+ years.

And you know the real scary part of this scenario? When the 115th Congress convenes in 8 short months, it is highly likely given current trends that “outsider” Senator David Perdue will transition to “establishment” Senator David Perdue.



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