Would you elect a twenty-four-year-old with scant work experience to the United States House of Representatives?
Weston Wamp sure hopes so. The son of former eight term Tennessee Rep. Zach Wamp, he is running for his father’s old seat this fall. Wamp, Sr. lost his seat when he did not run for reelection to the House in 2010, opting instead to run a far right GOP gubernatorial primary campaign, and was buried by moderate Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam. Wamp, Jr. has yet to lay out a detailed platform, other than cutting public sector pensions and corporate tax rates, but seems eager to claim victory.
In order to accomplish this, though, he has to take on incumbent Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, a mainstream Republican who has become unpopular with many of his constituents because he is indeed a mainstream Republican. Wamp, Jr. has had an impressive six figure fundraising haul so far, and Fleischmann is shying away from organized debates. Interestingly enough, young Wamp is portraying himself as a bipartisan kind of guy while campaigning far to Fleischmann’s right. Like so many other young politicos, Wamp, Jr. wants to go to Washington, DC and totally shake it up for all the guys and gals back home.
I am not sure if young Wamp honestly believes this can be done, or if anyone is naive enough to join in on that idea. Coming from a family of now-retired politically active individuals, I have known since childhood that such candidates are usually among the first to become tainted by the system, or were from the very start and simply lie to hide this. Since his father is a former congressman, I would assume that the latter is the case.
Twentysomething men and women should undoubtedly run for public office if they feel that they can do a decent job. However, city council, county commission, and municipal board slots are undoubtedly the best starting gates. They provide an unparalleled opportunity to grow professionally and learn hands on about public policy. After holding any of these offices or acquiring experience as a successful businessperson, bigger things like federal or state level offices are good ideas. Standing at point A, though, and jumping to point Z is just not feasible.
From what I can tell, Weston Wamp is not really interested in being a revolutionary kind of representative. Seeking a position for which he is so obviously unqualified reeks of his only wanting to carry on Zach’s business interests. This would not be bad if the Wamps were industrialists, but assuming the role of U.S. representative is far more complicated than any corporate occupation short of managing a company on the Fortune 500 list.
Electing Wamp, Jr. would be nothing less than a nod toward the creation of an American political dynasty lacking the glamor of the Kennedys or pizazz of the Memphis-based Fords. Do enough Tennessee Republicans really want such a thing? Hopefully not.