Proposed Qualifications for the President of the United States
To: Ronna McDaniel, Chairwoman of the Republican National Committee
To: Tom Perez, Chair of the Democratic National Committee
From: Steven A. Zecola
February 20, 2019
Dear Ms. McDaniel and Mr. Perez:
Your current processes for selecting a Presidential nominee put more emphasis on oratory skills and personal appeal than substantive capabilities and a proven track record of success. This emphasis is the opposite of that taken in the private sector.
Additionally, other countries set certain minimum standards on a variety of qualitative factors before letting the electorate pick amongst the qualified candidates.
Accordingly, I am proposing that you adopt a minimum set of qualifications for the candidates to meet before they can participate in your Presidential debates.
An Assortment of Requirements for Presidential Candidates Around the World
The following list provides the various requirements used to qualify candidates for the Office of Presidency in countries around the world. In no particular order, the candidate must:
- Be able to read and write
- be of a sound mind
- be sagacious, righteous, and honest
- be solvent and non-profligate
- have no previous convictions
- not have worked against the integrity of the country or opposed its ideology
- not hold an executive job in government (i.e., designed to maintain separation of the legislative and executive branches)
- not be in active Military Services
- not be a secretary or under-secretary of state, attorney general, or governor of a state at least 6 months prior to the election
- be nominated by qualified elected officials
In short, these requirements attempt to establish baseline standards for a potential candidate’s incentives, wisdom and character.
What Are the Responsibilities of the U.S. President?
The President of the United States has enormous responsibilities covering a variety of matters which are greater in scope and importance than that for other countries, as summarized below.
The president is in charge of the U.S. Armed Forces. The actions of the entire chain of military command take their direction and orders from the President.
2. Chief Executive Officer
The president lays out the vision for the future of America and how it can be fulfilled through legislation and/or other means of government intervention (or the removal thereof).
3. Chief Operating Officer
The president is responsible for the output of millions of government workers in the Executive Branch. He or she decides how the laws of the United States are to be enforced and chooses officials to run the multitude of functions of the Executive Branch.
4. Chief Diplomat
The president decides what policy positions American diplomats and ambassadors will take with foreign governments and often shepherds those views through dialog and meetings with foreign heads of state.
5. Steward of the Economy
In this role, the president is concerned with the general prosperity of the economy, including distribution of wealth, unemployment, prices, taxes, and competitive issues.
6. Spokesperson for the Nation
This role requires a president to be an inspiring example for the American people and to console the nation in times of grief.
What Attributes Would be Most Helpful in Fulfilling the Responsibilities of the Presidency?
To improve the chances of a successful term(s) in office, the President should score highly on the following skills:
- Matrix management
The President should also be well-prepared to make sound judgments with a deep knowledge of political science, economics and history.
Proposed Approach for Qualifying Candidates for the U.S. Presidency
As described above, the Presidency faces a massive challenge that requires a comprehensive set of skills and knowledge. With such a war chest of credentials, the President’s judgment on critical issues is likely to be well-supported and well-reasoned.
Therefore, in order to compete for the Presidency through the RNC or DNC public debate processes, this paper proposes that candidates must first pass either an experience test or a competency test.
The experience test would be straight-forward. The candidates would have had to had served at least two years in a state office, at least two years in a federal legislative office (House or Senate) and at least two years as a Governor. In addition, the candidate would have had to provide documentation that he/she participated in bi-partisan passage of a meaningful bill at the state or federal level.
Alternatively, a candidate could qualify by demonstrating competency in leadership, management, matrix management, and diplomacy as well as passing college-level exams in political science, economics and history.
Leadership certification would require a successful stint of setting the course of a large organization via strategic management principles for a minimum of two years.
Management certification would require a successful execution of two sequential annual plans of a large organization of at least 1000 people and six direct reports.
Matrix management certification would require meaningful participation and successful completion of a project across disparate organizations operating without an integrated chain of command.
Diplomatic certification would require leadership or meaningful participation in the successful completion of an overseas project.
Separately, there are a number of available venues for college-level exams. A popular series is provided under the name College Level Examination Program (CLEP) with exams in political science, economics and U.S. and worldwide history.
Summary and Conclusion
The Presidency has become a much more complex and impactful job since the Constitution was written. The number of candidates vying for the job through the debate-driven process adopted by the DNC and RNC also seems to be increasing.
The challenge presented by your current selection processes is that great oratory skills and/or voter appeal doesn’t necessarily result in a President with the requisite skills and knowledge to be successful.
Therefore, this paper provides an outline for the RNC and DNC to follow in qualifying candidates before they can participate in the presidential debates. Such an approach will result in a nominee who is well-grounded in the relevant substance of the job, has great oratory skills to convey the administration’s objectives and priorities in a way that feels right for everybody, has a proven track record of success in like situations and is personally appealing to the public.
The public deserves no less from their President.
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