From the New Yorker this morning is a email crafted by Dorothy Wickenden inviting readers to listen to a podcast featuring some of the 14 Republican presidential candidates. She observes that Republicans are describing the contenders as the best crop since Ronald Reagan. First off, this analyst is not one of the Reagan fans. The one thing that stands out about him was his wisdom and ability to assemble a competent executive staff. He also did that while being governor of California. As for ideology, that’s a different consideration than from qualifications. Reagan skated by academic achievement and got a pass for being a governor of a large state. That should have been unacceptable then and it surely is now.
American voters should demand superior credentials that include:
- Academic achievement — superior education and training from America’s top-rated universities in relevant fields of study.
- Lifetime accomplishments — having invented new products and new business units that generated significant job opportunities for a large working population.
- Executive management achievement — having served as CEO and operating executive of a large-scale enterprise with preference for commercial enterprise and than government enterprise
- Knowledge about the law and American government system — Since all members of the federal and states governments must deal in creating and maintaining laws, it is reasonable to give exceptional consideration for candidates who possess knowledge and skill in the legal profession.
- Knowledge about foreign policy — Having managed a global enterprise and having participated on international trade and commerce is most beneficial as is having served in the U.S. armed services.
- Knowledge about the automated regulatory environment — Since modern government is highly automated, it makes sense to expect government representatives to be information literate with a command of information technology.
- Knowledge about sustainable economics — Nothing is more important than for the U.S. government to collaborate with private enterprise to produce a sustainable economy that creates upward mobile opportunity with a good life for all citizens.
American voters are playing catchup in their quest for superior leadership in government. Here are reasons why: (list)
- America voters are too random and undisciplined about the process for selecting and electing government leaders from top to bottom and from bottom up.
- American political parties have become too oblique and out of touch with their constituencies and their needs.
- The criteria for American statesmanship has deteriorated having been undermined by changes in the political process that have undermined the notion of equality.
You can read the New Yorker’s story here: New Yorker
When looking at the list of GOP “contenders,” they might be described as a barrel of rotting and rotten apples. If you ground them all together and cooked them down, you might end up with applesauce. Would it be good applesauce? Would it be too sour, too sweet, lacking something? Think of the applesauce as being the flavor and quality of the political party represented by the amalgamation of rotting apples.
If the same metaphor were applied to Democrats, at present there is one or two fresh apples, and a couple of big old rotting apples. Given the number of apples in the Democrat batch, there may not be enough sauce to feed the crowd.
Consider the annotated list.
1. America voters are too random and undisciplined about the process for selecting and electing government leaders from top to bottom and from bottom up.
“How the President of the United States is Elected
Start with the Constitution. The basic process of selecting the President of the United States is spelled out in the U.S. Constitution, and it has been modified by the 12th, 22nd, and 23rd amendments. Many additional steps have been added over the years, by custom and by state law — the process has changed quite a bit over time.
Who Can Run? The President and Vice-President are elected every four years. They must be at least 35 years of age, they must be native-born citizens of the United States, and they must have been residents of the U.S. for at least 14 years. (Also, a person cannot be elected to a third term as President.)
How Do the Political Parties Choose Their Candidates? That’s up to the political parties. Most political parties hold conventions, which are large meetings attended by “delegates.” Some delegates are selected by state “primary” elections, some are selected by state caucuses (very much like primaries, except with public voting instead of secret ballots), and some are chosen for their prominence in the party. A majority of delegate votes is needed to win the party’s nomination. In most cases, the delegates let their chosen presidential candidate select a vice-presidential candidate.
Candidates for President and Vice-President Run Together. In the general election, each candidate for President runs together with a candidate for Vice-President on a “ticket.” Voters select one ticket to vote for; they can’t choose a presidential candidate from one ticket and a vice-presidential candidate from another ticket.”
2. American political parties have become too oblique and out of touch with their constituencies and their needs.
“It’s difficult to look across these many demographic changes and not believe that the Republican Party as currently constituted is in need of serious and substantial changes in approach. These changes could include the following:
Move to the center on social issues.
The culture wars may have worked for a while, but shifting demographics make them a loser for the party today and going forward. A more moderate approach would help with Millennials, where the party must close a yawning gap, and with white college graduates, who still lean Republican but just barely. The party also needs to make a breakthrough with Hispanics, and that won’t happen unless it shifts its image toward social tolerance, especially on immigration.
Pay attention to whites with some college education and to young white working-class voters in general.
The GOP’s hold on the white working class is not secure, and if that slips, the party doesn’t have much to build on to form a successful new coalition. That probably also means offering these voters something more than culture war nostrums and antitax jeremiads.
Another demographic target should be white college graduates, especially those with a four-year degree only.
The party has to stop the bleeding in America’s large metropolitan areas, especially in dynamic, growing suburbs. Keeping and extending GOP support among this demographic is key to taking back the suburbs. White college graduates increasingly see the party as too extreme and out of touch.
In the long run the GOP has to have serious solutions of its own that go beyond cutting taxes.
These solutions should use government to address problems but in ways that reflect conservative values and principles. Anti-government populism is something the party is clearly comfortable with— witness its evolving line of attack on the Obama administration. But it’s likely not enough to just denounce the other side and what they have done or propose to do in populist terms.
In short, the “party of no” has a limited shelf life.”
3. The criteria for American statesmanship has deteriorated having been undermined by changes in the political process that have undermined the notion of equality.
A statesman is a skilled, experienced, and respected political leader.
What are the skills, knowledge and experience American voters should be looking for from presidential contenders?
At the White House Executive Office: Vice President, Office of Management and Budget, Environmental Quality, Science and Technology, Trade Representative, Drug Control Policy. (Alphabetically)
Health and Human Services
Housing and Urban Development
(In order of succession to the Presidency)
Vice President of the United States
Department of State
Department of the Treasury
Department of Defense
Department of Justice
Department of the Interior
Department of Agriculture
Department of Commerce
Department of Labor
Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Department of Transportation
Department of Energy
Department of Education
Department of Veterans Affairs
Department of Homeland Security
The following positions have the status of Cabinet-rank:
White House Chief of Staff
Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Management & Budget
United States Trade Representative
United States Ambassador to the United Nations
Council of Economic Advisers
The term, “President’s Management Agenda,” was introduced by President George Herbert Walker Bush in 2001. The notion that a sitting President has a contemporary agenda reflecting the current set of needs is a practical idea. Today, President’s use the White House website as a place to present the organization of their approach to managing President’s responsiblities such as shown below from the Obama White House:
Energy & Environment
Seniors & Social Security
The fact is that the nation faces pervasive challenges and needs that persist from one administration to the next. However, there are dynamic swings in immediate priorities that are largely influenced by the economy and threats to national security. Observe that “Jobs” is not explicitly present in the current list.