The American Government has become very complex since the creation of the United States. Our society is now increasingly linked to international relations and faces an array of domestic problems. The presidency is critical in dealing with these vital areas. However, every four or eight years, we establish a new governing presidential administration. These new administrations must get acquainted with existing and potential future public issues. They must establish new political contacts with existing domestic and foreign leaders. They typically review the former administration's policies. One way to ensure orderly transition of the presidency has been to have the outgoing administration meet with the incoming administration But often this only occurs on the transition day.
As a result this consumes resources and large amounts of time *1 (Kuch, Christopher B.). Pressing national issues typically result in gathering the same data as the previous administration and proceeding thru the political process again.
This article suggests a method to reduce the burden on future presidential administrations and provide continuity on public policies that cannot be resolved in one administration. The focus is to utilize former presidents who will serve on a standing committee to give ongoing advice to future administrations. They might also represent the nation as diplomats in foreign affairs at the request of the setting president. These capacities is not meant to replace or create new cabinet level positions, but rather supplement existing leaders.
Untapped Knowledge and Expertise
At the time of this article, we have four former living presidents. While they have earned their right to enjoy retirement life, some continue to be politically active. Each has a wealth of experience leading the United States. They have many foreign political contacts. Also, many private sector contacts. Finally, each has special expertise on a variety of social issues.
Most desire to continue to be involved in national politics and contribute to our country. All former presidents are financially successful and are not looking for a job. The former presidents would serve on a voluntary basis. Perhaps we can encourage them to interact with each other several times a year and discuss, conduct research, and come to an consensus or present different suggestions for the development of public policies. This could initially be on a non-paid basis, but I am sure we can find funding somewhere within the federal budget for their compensation, say minimum wage. They could then propose national policies to the current setting president in a confidential matter.
Structure and Meetings
Every four months the former presidents should meet at their presidential libraries on a rotating basis. This might foster good will between the two main political parties. They could offer to meet the public and sign books before their council meeting. After which they can be in contact with each other via email or phone. The setting president should meet with the council, at the White House, once a year. Communication can flow between the council and setting president as necessary.
They should discuss social problems that the setting president has directed them to research and make suggestions concerning public policies. The general focus of the research may be released to the media. However, individual positions should remain confidential and not be released to the media. The actual policy suggestions created by the council, along with individual dissent, should only be released to the media by the setting president.
Possible topics to be considered might be how to increase production and exportation of American goods, ensuring affordable health care, developing alternative cost-efficient environmentally safe fuels, resolving social security concerns, establishing new and reinforcing current foreign allies, reducing crime and providing stronger national security. In addition, special topics that the council might choose to address. For instance, possible admittance of Puerto Rico into the Union as a state, involuntary homelessness, Immigration and the southern border, or encouraging Cuba to become a full democracy. *2
The presidents can utilize their contacts and previous research that they have conducted. They individually can focus on special aspects of the general topic matching their strengths and individual enthusiasm to these aspects. They should attempt to discover all sides of the issue and attempt to come to a consensus about possible resolutions.
The key to their proposals and advice to the setting president must be by-partisan. They must be workable and they must solve issues and not create new problems. There must be a spirit of greater public good over individual or political party recognition.
Each president has certain skills and abilities that they have been blessed with. Individually, they have ideas that might not have been politically correct or possible during their administrations. Each is respected in one area or another by the public. They have a foundation, already established, to address public issues that occur over long periods of time. One of the things they lacked during their administrations can be overcome by no longer spending energy on reelection campaigns. They are free to explore contradictory suggestions and not be politically ridiculed.
The thrust of these meetings is confidentiality. Every setting president must conduct confidential meetings and retain solicited information not privy to the general public. Many suggestions are discarded because of non feasible implementation of policies. They must be able to seek input on controversial topics. They must way the greater public good against individual freedoms. At the same time, they inherently must maintain their core principles.
This proposal must have an agreement to not disclose specific details about policy recommendations from the council to the setting president to the media. The council must not become a political weapon used against the setting president during elections. They must strive to be non-partisan, cordial, and focus on the goal—find feasible solutions to public problems. To ensure open debate on policies within the council and to the setting president, the specific details and individual suggestions should remain non-public for twenty years.
Only the setting president should be the one to release details about the council activities and suggestions to the general public. He/she may give recognition of individual former presidents as long as it does become favoring one president over another one.
Death of a President
Upon the death or incapacitation of a former president, their former vice president should become an alternative representative on the council. Upon their death or incapacitation, their former senior secretary of state can assume the council position. This should ensure a continued representation on the council.
While some might say this is a bold proposal—asking former rivals to come together and work as a team towards a common goal. This is not and should not become a debate about who or what is better similar to Ford versus Chevy, Pepsi versus Coke, and Republican versus Democrat. It is a proposal to utilize an existing experienced body of leaders at no cost to the tax payer. ?t is an attempt at showing the world how a representative democracy can function by using modern technology (Internet) and tapping into existing human resources (former U.S. Presidents).
As the number of public issues continue to grow and demands for a leaner more efficient executive branch are placed upon them, lets put our former presidents back to work. Perhaps, in the future, serving in the White House will not be limited to four or eight years, but become a lifetime voluntary endeavor. A classic modern example of how former presidents can work together and help the country in times of need is the relationship between both Bush presidents and Mr. Clinton. Theirs should be a model for cooperation between congress and the Whitehouse, which has been lacking in the past seven years.
- "Presidential Transition Agreement: Assisting the New Administration" by Kuch, Christopher B. (USA Patriotism, February 20, 2016)
- “Encouraging Cuba to Become a Democracy.” A letter sent to President Barrack H. Obama, August 2010.
By Christopher B. Kuch, PhD
About Author: Dr. Kuch holds a PhD, MA, and MS in criminal justice. He has written about a variety of police issues. He is a four year Vietnam Era Navy Veteran and served as a deputy sheriff in Ohio for seven years. He lives in Istanbul, Turkey and is on the adjunct faculty at Galatasaray University.
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