By Jhoana Flores
The election of President Donald Trump in 2016 raised alarm over whether he is qualified for the position because he was a businessman with no political background. However, other elected officials also have no political experience.
New Jersey Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, a Democrat who represents the state’s 16th legislative district, said at a press conference that he once believed that he was not qualified for a political position because he is a scientist who works at the Princeton University Plasma Physics Lab. But as a second-term assemblyman, he is advocating for more diversity of background in politics.
Zwicker said his scientific background helps him in his job in the legislature. As for Trump’s lack of experience, he said he prefers that candidates for the highest office in the land have more of a political background.
Still, he doesn’t advocate limiting the field. “Anyone who wants to run for president should run for president,” he said.
The issue of qualifications for public office can be complicated. What makes someone qualified? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, for instance, also had no political experience and worked as a waitress before becoming a congresswoman.
Should political experience be a qualification? Should that qualification only apply to those running for president? If yes, why should different political positions be weighted differently, since local politicians also impact our communities?
In Zwicker’s case, his voters don’t seem to mind his lack of political practice, as he’s won two elections. Now he’s campaigning for a third term after four years in the legislature, but he’s still learning on the job.
“I am not qualified,” Zwicker said with a smile. “I’m making it up as I go…I’m doing my best.”