Widespread public disgust with petty bickering and corruption in Washington has led to popular preference for an “outsider candidate” for president, not a professional politician.
Americans long for another Lincoln—someone who’s wise and idealistic—and untainted by political machinations. The only problem is that the real Lincoln was a proud professional pol: he first ran for the legislature at age 23, and spent his entire adult life seeking or holding public office.
Our greatest presidents all earned deep experience in practical politics: Washington won election to the Virginia House of Burgesses at age 26, Jackson got elected to Congress at 29, Theodore Roosevelt entered the New York legislature at 23, his cousin Franklin became a State Senator at 28. Even Reagan devoted 25 uninterrupted years to the practice of politics with masterful sophistication.
History shows that to achieve success at the highest level, it helps immensely to have sharpened your skills and deepened your perspective with campaigns for lesser offices.