The Dangers of DIY

One of the blessings of the internet is the easy availability of instructions for all sorts of 
 do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, from fixing a dripping faucet to canning pickles or replacing a camshaft position sensor, whatever the heck that is. With affordable software and equipment, many of us have taken to designing our own gift cards, practicing sophisticated photography techniques and self-publishing our creations. There are even TV networks devoted to the DIY passion. Build your own furniture, rebuild your kitchen, bake your own wedding cake.

I for one love dabbling in new endeavors. I -- who have never written anything imaginative before -- decided to write a novel and I just may write my own will too. When someone I love has a medical diagnosis, just watch me search the internet and read everything I can about it, second guessing the doctors.

Doctors are one group whose professionalism is no longer respected in our culture. Everyone is a pop
medical expert, studying the latest superfoods and diet advice, then loading up on supplements from the natural food store. I should pity the doctors, who have intensively studied human anatomy and physiology as well as chemistry and who have to keep current with research in their fields. But I don't. I don't because in my field -- education -- everyone also assumes their own ideas are superior to our training and experience. 

You may have studied for many years to be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a graphic artist or any other profession. But don't expect Americans to defer to your training or your experience. We're suspect. We think you're in collusion with each other or with big businesses tied to your practice perhaps. We think you're the enemy. Until we need you.

This is the best I can make of the current fascination with outsiders in politics. We treat the presidency (and all other government offices) as though there were no skills, no knowledge and no experience required. Those of us with the least education mistrust anyone with too much of it. Give us the guy who doesn't understand how it works, might well flunk a geography test, and has no history of accomplishments in the field. 

Professional politician. That's no compliment, in spite of the importance of the job or the fact that navigating political realities and abiding by the intricate rules of the institutions are essential to getting anything done. 

I don't mind that one of my senators has been in the Senate long enough to make prudent decisions -- perhaps not as radical as I would like -- about what can get done. I don't mind that my new governor had so much experience as a successful legislator and secretary of state that she was able to whisk through several progressive changes to Oregon law in her first months. I'm happy to see new legislators from every walk of life -- farmers, teachers, nurses, engineers -- bring their important perspectives to governing. But I don't want a rookie governor. 

I also don't want a rookie doctor, a rookie teacher, a rookie lawyer, or a rookie president. No, thank you.