Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Death of Experience

By: Angel Del Valle

I moved back to Mexico a year ago and not coincidentally Donald Trump has been in office for the same amount of time. I currently teach English at a language institute, yet my degree and a lot of my work experience was not in teaching. I kind of fell into it. During my college years in the United States I tutored Spanish and English. I enjoyed it so much that I did it for 10 years, well after graduating. I double majored in Sociology and Religious studies and worked as a case manager first in a domestic violence shelter and later in a behavioral health agency. After getting burnt out I ended up for a pharmacy’s call center and was introduced to the world of corporate America.

In my five and a half years in said environment I went from working the phones to working the scheduling desk and finally as a part-time trainer for one company and from doing data entry to being a full-time trainer for another. When I moved to Mexico and decided to teach I was required to take a teacher’s training certification course, but aside from that I was confident in my abilities to do the job.

You see, while I didn’t major in Education and minor in Child Psychology my work experience was a perfect fit. Working in social work prepared me for difficult and stressful situations as some students have rough home lives. Tutoring Spanish and English taught me how to explain material in more than one way. Being a corporate trainer helped me translate that from a one-on-one scenario to a classroom of up to 25 individuals and doing stand-up comedy, while not a must, definitely helped with the comfort level of public speaking.

Teaching isn’t tutoring nor is it training. I had to feel comfortable in the similarities and adjust and embrace the differences. One doesn’t necessarily have to go to school or have specialized training in what they end up doing, but similar experience goes a long way.

Donald Trump was elected mainly on that platform, that he isn’t a career politician and that running a country was no different than running a business. There is nothing wrong with the first premise, plenty of countries elect people to office who are not career politicians, a good example is Canada, but the U.S has a history of doing it too. In recent memory they elected Jesse Ventura, a wrestler and actor, to governor of Minnesota, Arnold Schwarzenegger, an actor, was elected to governor of California and of course, the most famous case, Ronald Reagan, also an actor, to president.

I’ll admit I don’t know about Ventura or Schwarzenegger, but Ronald Reagan is the best parallel to Trump’s case. Reagan was not a career politician, but he had political and governing experience prior to becoming president. He was vice-president and later president of the Screen Actors Guild during the 50’s, a tumultuous time for the country, but for Hollywood as well. Anyone who saw Trumbo with Bryan Cranston is now familiar with the Hollywood Blacklist, the Taft-Harty Act and the House Un-American Committee. That’s a lot of politics for “superficial” Hollywood. He later worked with the Goldwater campaign and finally ran, and won, for governor of California in 1967.

According to biographer Dinesh D’Souza in his book, Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader, it was Reagan’s time in SAG that really primed him for a political career and his time as governor of California that polished him to run for President. Governing isn’t easy and it comes with difficult decisions. According to D’Souza one of Reagan’s biggest regrets as governor was legalizing abortion, but he did it, regardless of his personal feelings and beliefs on the matter. Thus, even though many jokes were made on late night shows and even movies like Back to the Future about an actor being elected President, Reagan at the very least had an idea of what politics were and what it took to govern. The same cannot be said of Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is known as a real estate mogul, avid golfer and reality TV star. We can state with all certainty that, like Reagan, he is not a career politician. However, he is known as and he has personally milked his image as a “businessman.” He erroneously thought that due to his (questionable) ability to run a business he could run the country in a similar way. The reason he is gravely mistaken is because government is not a business. Businesses need to make a profit and governments usually run at a loss. Also his attitude, language and overall crassness lets us know he has never been in a position where polish matters, what you say and do matter and what you say and do affect millions. Experience matters.

I may not be a career teacher, but my experience has definitely helped in what is my first year on the job. Reagan was not a career politician, but the American people did elect someone with political experience when they voted for him. When people voted for Donald Trump they voted for the equivalent of the high school dropout who expects to make $60,000 a year with an 8th grade education. Not only is he not a career politician, he’s a clown.

Angel Del Valle is from Mexico City, Mexico. He spent 16 years in the United States in which he graduated from Tucson High Magnet School and earned a B.A in Sociology and Religious Studies at the University of Arizona. He currently teaches English in Guadalajara, Mexico. 

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