Presidential Standards of Professionalism
Without doubt the most important factor in America’s history of success has been our adherence to the fundamental principle of governance, the Rule of Law. This belief in order and accountability, and that no person is above the law, has provided a framework for honorable competition as well as collaboration. Imagine a society without the Rule of Law. The existence of Warlords or Pirates provides good evidence of a society without rules. Somalia perhaps? Chechnya? Afghanistan?
Another not often discussed factor in the great success of America has been our high standards of professionalism. Across every industry and for most demanding positions—except executive positions within government—we demand certain standards of performance and professionalism that make sure we provide quality, safety, and value. Think about it; doctors, nurses, lawyers, military, civil servants, engineers, real-estate inspectors, brokers of all kinds, teachers, merchant mariners, and pilots; the list for licensure exams is endless. Society requires rigorous exams for almost every job except the most important job in the land, our Commander-in-Chief and President! Does this really make any sense?
Why have we relinquished our demand for high standards for the most important job in the country? Why have we perverted our elections to contain elements equivalent to high-school popularity contests and celebrity gossip events; moreover, for a job with a four-year term, where correcting an error requires poor behavior sufficient to support impeachment? The Parliamentary system is superior in the face of poor performance and allows for a vote of no confidence in the government at any time, but that is for another discussion.
The United States is the most successful and powerful nation in the history of civilization, and our President is universally called the leader of the free world, yet we have no formal requirements to prove a baseline of confidence and credibility to become President. If aliens visit us with a thousand-year-lead in technology, would we really feel comfortable having mama bears, pizza barons, religious zealots, and undergraduate failures with radio shows representing us? “No” you say? Then we should never be comfortable having them lead and represent us now, as they may torture people, start unjust wars; or greatly damage our environment, economy, reputation, and credibility; or worse!
Our election process would be more effective if we required all potential Presidential candidates to pass an exam before announcing their candidacy. The President’s job is extremely demanding with a broad area of executive responsibility, and requires a fundamental knowledge and understanding of history, law, science, economics, geography, foreign policy, intelligence, energy, and dozens of agencies just to name a few. Of course, the Cabinet and under-secretaries ensure deep expertise in all functional areas of government; however, should we really be wasting media time (and therefore almost everyone else’s) with unqualified candidates? Considering the scope of responsibility, a Presidential exam should easily exceed the rigor of our more well-known traditional exams for medicine, law, engineering and the like.
For a clear example of my primary point, when I drive my car across a bridge, I feel relaxed knowing that the designer of the bridge has satisfied the requirements for sound engineering. I have the same feeling when I ride in an airplane, elevator or vehicle—I trust the engineers.
Like everything in life, the devil is in the details, so we would have to settle a number of issues including, but not limited to:
- Who would administer the test?
- Who would supply and support the content?
- Should passing scores be made public for candidates entering the race?
- Should test takers be disclosed?
- Can anyone take the exam even if they do not plan to run? If so, passing the Presidential exam would surely become a goal for many in society.
Our current Presidential Election process is completely broken in other ways as well — which I plan to elaborate on in other posts—but to focus on the candidates themselves, and what it should take to become a candidate, we must demand a minimum standard of skill, knowledge, and performance to make sure America is represented well to the rest of the World.
Mark G Capolupo