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Have Americans ever elected a political rookie as president?

All five political rookies who came before Trump had something he does not: experience working with the highest levels of government
U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower gestures June 26,1959 as he points out features of the St. Lawrence Seaway to England’s Queen Elizabeth II . The two heads of state were sailing along the seaway aboard the royal yacht Britannia, following ceremonies marking the official opening of the vital waterway. (AP Photo)

Five times before in U.S. history, the presidential desk chair was warmed by somebody who had never held elected office. All the others had won elections as U.S. senators, House representatives, state governors, and vice-presidents. But there’s a key distinction between these five ex-presidents and Donald Trump.

Dwight Eisenhower (elected 1952) was a five-star general.

Herbert Hoover (elected 1928) was a secretary of commerce to two presidents.

William Howard Taft (elected 1908) was Teddy Roosevelt’s secretary of war.

Ulysses S. Grant (elected 1868) was a commanding general for the Union side in the Civil War.

Zachary Taylor (elected 1848) was a general in the American-Mexican war.

This means that while there is precedent for a U.S. president who has never been elected to anything before, at least these five other men had high-level experience dealing with presidents and cabinet secretaries and federal government masters.

The closest Trump can come to any of that is negotiations with the General Services Administration for a deal to turn a former U.S. post office into a Trump hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, or dealings with local and state officials for zoning ordinances and casino licences.

A few other world leaders emerged without a day in a lesser political office. Silvio Berlusconi was elevated from media mogul to Italian prime minister in 1994. Last year, Guatemala rolled the dice and elected comedian Jimmy Morales as president. He cheekily offered Trump “cheap labour” in April to build his southern border wall.