A political cartoon published this week by the New Yorker seems to be playing well with those who oppose the rise of populism in American politics, but the editorial’s message misses the mark.

The cartoon shows a man standing in the aisle of a passenger airliner, one hand raised angrily.

“These smug pilots have lost touch with regular passengers like us. Who thinks I should fly the plane?” the caption reads.

Look, dissecting cartoons is the sort of thing that makes a person reconsider his life choices, but this editorial really begs for some comment.

First, the obvious criticism is that the cartoon wrongly compares a profession defined by measurable achievements and certifications to a fuzzy discipline in which supposed experts and outright rookies often work side-by-side, and there is rarely any discernible difference between the two.

Pilots spend years earning their spot in the cockpit. Political “elites” can be anyone, so long as they have the right connections, and many haven’t earned anything in the sense that they’ve put in time and effort and have a proven track record of success.

Also, on the note of failure: There’s no room for error when flying a plane. One miscalculation, and it’s usually the pilot’s last. Now compare that to how often consultants and career politicos move on from one failed campaign to the next. In aviation, there can only be success. In politics, success and failure often coexist, and the latter is sometimes even rewarded.

So — yeah.

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If a passenger volunteered to wrest control from a pilot whose flying had left behind a trail of failure and destruction, it’s understandable that the other flyers would give his offer a long, hard look.

Lastly, if we’re going to go down the road of ribbing populism versus the “elites,” then let’s stick with that theme and apply it to the 2016 campaign.

Of the two candidates who ran this year, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has actually been in the pilot’s seat. How has that worked out in Russia? Or Syria? Or Egypt? Or Libya? Part of President-elect Trump’s appeal was that he was able to say he’d never been in the pilot’s seat before. What do you have to lose?

There are arguments to be made in favor of experience, especially when it comes to the White House, and there are certainly arguments to made against populism. This cartoon didn’t make them.

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