So I was reading about the building of the trans-continental railroad (and Napoleon) and wondering to myself why so many of our politicians seem utterly lacking in leadership skills like actual competence or ability to get things done.
Napoleon rose to the top of the French Military (as far as I know,) by winning battles. Railroad tycoons got to be railroad tycoons by building railroads. Steve Jobs got to be famous by … innovating in product design? Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb and understood the necessity of building a universal power grid so he could sell them to everyone.
George Washington was a leader, not a politician. He got into office because everyone involved decided, based on the job he’d done leading the army during the Revolutionary War, that he’d be a good national leader in peacetime.
But systems have unexpected consequences–you get what you select for, not what you intend to select for. The founders wanted voters to simply come to a rational agreement about who would be the country’s best leader. Since then, we have accrued dozens of layers of complications–political parties and primary votes; super pacs and campaign ads. I have no doubt the founders would have despised it all.
In our case, the electoral system now selects for people who are good at winning elections.