Cleve Francis
cardiologist, musician

Cleve Francis

Cardiologist; President, Mount Vernon Cardiology Associates, Alexandria, Va.; musician.

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The proper blend

Q: What's a politician to do? Voters rejected the incumbents in this week's primaries in Pennsylvania and Kentucky (and Arkansas Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln faces a runoff), shirking experience for new faces. What is so attractive about upstarts? In your experience, are you more likely to achieve success as a wise insider or a brash outsider?

Every current politician was at one time an upstart. It is over time that these upstarts become part of the same establishment that they got elected to change. They become the incumbents and a target for the upstarts, especially if things are not going well. Over time, the cycle merely repeats itself.

It is not a good or a bad thing, but merely a fact of life. The only thing permanent is change itself. When things are going well, an incumbent can convince his or her constituents that there is no need to change and that leaving them in power means that they have greater clout and can make things better for the country and the folks who elected them.

When things are not going well, the incumbent gets the blame and depending on just how upset the folks back home become, removal becomes imminent. The folks back home are not always right, but they hold the last card in this debate. Many times, some of the politicians do lose touch with the will of the folks who elected them. It's a tight dance for a politician to exercise his or her conscience and still satisfy the "folks back home."

As for the upstarts, they have a great chance to be heard. Many find that things are not always as simple as it appeared from the outside. If they are really successful and they are repeatedly sent back to Congress, they become the incumbent -- then guess what!

But just like a professional baseball team needs both veterans and rookies in order to succeed, the Congress also needs the proper blend of seasoned veterans and bright, imaginative and creative upstarts to make things balanced. Many times it is the counseling and the assistance of the veterans who help the rookies get established. An imbalance of one or the other will make it very difficult for the Congress to succeed.

By Cleve Francis  |  May 24, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Experience vs. hunger Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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