Does He Or She Have What It Takes?

This is the first article in my new blog. I’ll use the blog to share my thoughts on the critical issues of the day. I’d be happy to have you comment on those views. An honest, respectful, dialog on the issues we care about is good for the soul.

As we head into the 2016 presidential election, it’s critical that we think deeply about the experience, qualities and views needed for the next president of the United States. Then we should measure each candidate against those criteria. Here are my views on the subject.

1. We need a candidate to have experience running a large entity.

Experience as Governor of a state, or in running a large corporation, will allow us to judge whether or not a candidate has the skills needed to run the US government.

For example, Carly Fiorina, a Republican candidate for President, ran technology company Hewlett Packard for six years before being fired by the company’s Board. During her stay with the company, the company’s stock lost half its value and she had fired thousands of the company’s employees. Should we support a candidate with that record?

By contrast, Governor Jerry Brown (not a presidential candidate) gets high marks from California residents. According to a recent LA Times poll, 64% of respondents approve Brown’s performance as governor. He must be doing something right. A candidate like that, might be worth supporting.

2. We need candidates who are capable of creating the right “corporate culture”. Especially, a culture which says “sloppy work will not be tolerated.” I voted twice for President Obama twice, but, sadly he did not make this clear to federal workers. If he had done so, we probably not have seen the following:

– The sloppy computer design of the Obama Care software that made it so hard for people to sign up for health insurance.

– The spectacle of US Secret Service personnel using our tax dollars to hire prostitutes when they should have been guarding the president.

– An intruder, with a knife, making it all the way into the White House before being stopped. He had crawled over the White House fence and run across the lawn, before entering the building.

When candidates have experience as governors, or corporate executives, we can evaluate their experience and consider whether or not thy can establish a good corporate culture.

3. We need candidates with lots of legislative experience.

Experience in a state legislature or Congress makes it possible to assess the legislative skills of the candidate. Is the candidate skillful in getting key legislation enacted? Presidents often need to persuade Congress to enact legislation that meets the President’s goals. President Obama’s ability to get Congress to allow the Iran nuclear agreement to go though will depend on his skill in persuading House and Senate members to support it.

President Lyndon Johnson had legislative skills in spades. He honed these skills during the 17 years he served in Congress. When he became President he faced a Congress controlled by southern Democrats who firmly opposed civil rights legislation designed to secure the rights of Black Americans. Even so, he persuaded Congress to enact several important civil rights laws.

4. We need candidates with foreign policy experience or knowledge.

As must be obvious, the next President will have to deal with many, complex, challenges in foreign policy. If our next President makes a mess in handling these challenges, our nation could be in serious danger. When candidates have such experience, we can review how they did in handling foreign policy issues.

Who has had such experience? They include ambassadors, Secretaries of State and members of the foreign relations committees of the US Senate and US House of Representatives. Political science professors, who specialize in international relations, would have lots of information that might help them deal with this nation’s international challenges.

Probably no candidates will have all of the above. But the more of them a candidate has, the better we can judge whether he or she has the skills we need in our next President.

More In My Next Blog


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