Congressional Candidate Can Call Himself An Astronaut On The Ballot

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When applying for a new job, there are few more impressive accomplishments you could list on your resume than “astronaut.” Sure, brain surgeon is damned impressive. Navy SEAL, unquestionably awesome. But astronaut is the only one that tells people, “I’ve been to space, dude.” So it’s understandable that former NASA engineer Jose Hernandez wanted to list “astronaut” as his profession on the ballot in his race for U.S. Congress in California. And now, despite the efforts of his opponents on the other side of the aisle, he’ll be able to do just that.

According to the L.A. Times, Hernandez wants to list his occupation as “astronaut/scientist/engineer.” Given that Hernandez flew on the space shuttle Discovery’s STS-128 mission in 2009, you’d think that claim would be pretty clear cut. If it walks like an astronaut, talks like an astronaut, and gets launched into the final frontier on a pillar of flame like an astronaut… Not so, claimed Republicans, who argued that Hernandez shouldn’t be allowed to call himself an astronaut since he left NASA in 2011 to work at a technology company.

Okay, that logic would make sense in most cases. It would be silly to list my profession as “chicken cook” when I haven’t worked at Boston Market since I was 16 years old. And if “chicken cook” would somehow make me look more impressive to potential employers, I should absolutely be called out for trying to use it. However, I think there are certain jobs that earn you the right to identify as them for life. Served in the military, especially during wartime? You bet soldier, you can call yourself a Marine (or whatever) straight up until the Grim Reaper takes you. Worked as any sort of first responder — police, fire, ambulance? Fly that flag high. Basically, if you’ve put your life on the line for others, or for a noble cause greater than yourself, you can damn well lay claim to that title from now until doomsday, as far as I’m concerned. And that bloody well includes “astronaut.”

The judge who decided this case apparently agrees with me. Judge Lloyd Connelly rejected the notion that Hernandez’s interim job disqualifies him from identifying as an astronaut. Connelly said that Hernandez earned the right to call himself an astronaut for “more than the time spent riding a rocket.” Now Hernandez is free to proudly cite his astronaut badassery as he runs for California’s 10th Congressional District. And if I were him? I’d totally have some “astronaut” business cards made up, too.


  1. Chris Paris says:

    Ridiculous. Romney and Bush both call/called themselves “CEO”s and no one blinked. Bill Frist regularly reminded folks he was a surgeon. Reagan and Schwarzeneggar didn’t back down from calling themselves actors. Although I do notice that Santorum and Gingrich haven’t reminded folks of their most recent occupation … lobbyists.

  2. Meh, I don’t know much about the politics going on out there, but this is a foolish move on the republicans part…. However many people there were, that didn’t know he would put “astronaut” on his resume, now know it because of all this “uproar”. Though if this guy harps on and on about himself being an astronaut or nasa engineer. Republicans can fire back and say “How does being an astronaut make you a good politician?” If anything, I would be proud to call myself an astronaut my whole life, but it wouldn’t be in a “here is another tv commercial about it, and btw, here is my coffee cup that has a picture of my astronaut days on the side”.