As presidential election season gets into full swing, here is a spectrum for your consideration. When Harry Truman left the White House, he retired to Missouri and supervised the creation of his modest presidential library. He then worked daily as an unpaid docent of the library. He turned down all job offers, because he thought it unseemly for an ex-President to have a cushy job in the private sector. When Bill Clinton left, he got big book advances for both him and Hillary and they set up shop in NYC and DC. They set up a foundation that may have done some good, but seemed mostly designed to cover their lavish living expenses and provide a place of employment for their entourage-in-waiting for the Hillary presidency. They went on the speaking circuit — Bill at $500,000 a pop; Hillary at $250,000. Just another egregious example of unequal pay. I suggest that we might want to strive for the Truman model.
Let’s do a thought experiment. Say you sit on the board of a very large organization and it is time to select a new Chief Executive. How would you assess the resumes of possible candidates for the position? You would look for somebody who had successful experience running a large organization. You would look for somebody with the intellectual heft necessary to develop good strategic plans that addressed major areas of concern and had an informed view of future contingencies. You would look for somebody with the courage to pursue those strategic plans in the face of impediments. You would want somebody who could attract and motivate talented department heads. You would most especially look for somebody who, after being guaranteed compensation commensurate with the position, placed the goals of the organization ahead of personal advancement.
As a voter, you are, in effect, a board member voting on selection of a Chief Executive of the United States. A conscientious board member sets aside personal feelings and puts the needs of the organization first. Who is the best person for the job? That should be the only relevant consideration.
Given that filter, it makes assessing the declared and soon to declare candidates much easier.
The most qualified candidate, Michael Bloomberg, opted not to run. His track record of creating a world class company and two terms as mayor of one of the world’s most important cities, tops anything else on offer. He apparently decided that an independent bid could not succeed and that an old white male could not win the nomination of the Democratic party. That is a sad commentary on our political scene.
Howard Schultz is exploring a run as an independent. He has no political experience, but he did create a world class company and he made a number of excellent strategic decisions in that process.
Two Republicans, John Kasich and Larry Hogan, are contemplating a run against Trump in the primaries. John was a formidable and powerful member of the House and a very successful governor of a major state. Larry was mayor of one of the toughest to manage cities in the country and is a successful Republican governor in a deep blue state. Those two resumes are worth consideration.
John Hickenlooper was a reasonably successful small businessperson and a successful (if somewhat quirky) governor of a small state. His track record wouldn’t get to the top of my stack, but it would make the finals.
Cory Booker was mayor of Newark. Granted that is a very tough job. Granted that he attracted a lot of foundation and rich person money that was thrown at the problems. To my knowledge, not much was accomplished. At least, he proved capable of running a political entity.
Out of left field, we have Pete Buttigieg (boot-edge-edge). His organizational experience is a bit thin. South Bend is not a major metropolis. However, he brings some other stuff to the table. He appears to be whip smart and he is the only candidate in the stack with military experience.
If you think that the only significant problem the nation faces is global warming, you could choose Jay Inslee. He seems to be a one issue candidate. His tenure as governor is, in my view, undistinguished.
Julian Castor was mayor of San Antonio. I don’t know how well he handled that job. He ran HUD for President Obama. Having done some business with HUD, I wouldn’t vote for anybody who worked there.
There is a good chance that some of these folks would be a big step up from the present situation and would have a chance to make some progress in dealing with a goodly number of serious problems we face. The other candidates have no relevant experience. Their resumes should go in the waste basket.