The best and the brightest should lead. This revolutionary idea was put forth by Plato in his groundbreaking book, The Republic. This book has been praised for over two thousand years as a masterpiece of political philosophy yet in two thousand years this concept has yet to be put into practice. Our leaders are still picked based on popularity rather than skills or qualifications. There are not even any minimum standards of education or experience needed for this position. If you are over thirty-five and a citizen of this country than you can be president. Plato outlined a vigorous program of education and personal development in order to train those who would aspire to what he termed the "Guardian Class". Their job would be to serve the people with very little benefit to themselves. His idea was to make leadership the most undesirable job in the society due to the rigorous requirements that would need to be met and the minimal rewards outside of personal satisfaction. Only those with a true desire to do good for society would want it because it would be impossible for leaders or their friends or families to profit from being in a leadership role.
The way we pick our leaders today is scarcely more effective than Kings and Queens adopting their roles through birthright. It is a beauty pageant. It's like watching an episode of American Idol. Look at the top ten movies in the country, the top ten shows on television, and the top ten albums in the country and tell me if you want the same people that made Jessica Simpson, The Osbournes, and Anna Nicole Smith famous selecting our leadership without some sort of guidelines?
But how would we go about weeding the best and the brightest from the masses of modern America? Would we just go through Mensa's roster, pick the person with the highest IQ and force him into the presidency? In all honesty I do believe that IQ should be a top priority in our choice of a leader but intelligence does not always equal competence. I speak from experience when I say that there are many highly intelligent people who are lazy, dishonest and amoral. The IQ of the average con-man is not far from that of the membership of Mensa. IQ should be one of the criterion but far from the end all be all. There should be educational requirements. A leadership curriculum comprising of political science, sociology, history, economics, law, psychology, and philosophy, would be a mandate. There should also be mandatory humanitarian internships of at least four years. These internships should be diverse and encapsulate a wide demographic of the American people. I would go so far as to say that these internships should be based on population statistics. For instance, since a large majority of the American population are poor whites a candidate should have to spend certain percentage of his time in poor white communities doing some type of social work. This is just a guess but I would assume that the next largest group would be middle-class whites therefore a percentage of this four year community service internship should be spent getting to know the concerns of this community. Then lower income Latino Americans, then Black Americans, then Asian Americans and so on and so forth. Someone more clever than I would even be charged with dividing this time up so that it would be proportionate to the population percentage. The greater the population the more time should be spent getting acquainted with that segment of the population. There would have to be a minimum population percentage necessary to mandate a candidates time in order for he or she to be able to complete these internships in four years. Such as a minimum of ten percent of the American population. This would not prevent candidates from doing "extra-credit" and spending time in smaller segments of the population as well. They just would not be mandated to do so. That would hopefully prevent it from getting too out of hand.
There should also be a minimum job experience requirement. This is practiced for the most part but it is not law. No where does it state that you have to have been governor for four years or have served in Senate, or Congress, or some type of Executive office to be considered for the Presidency. This needs to be added. They ask for your resume when you apply for a job at banana Republic and they're just selling khakis and cardigans. Don't you think we should require our president to have some actual leadership experience, and not just with running a corporation, but in actually serving a constituency and making policy?
Now where would the democratic process enter into all of this? I think that the presidential vote should be broken into three phases. The first would be an almost blind vote in which those who wish to be considered for candidacy must submit their resumes to first confirm that they have met the minimum standards of IQ, education, community service, and leadership experience, and those who qualify would have their resumes sent out to every registered voter in America for consideration.Then there would be a vote based solely on their qualifications. This would just be a vote to see who makes it onto the ballot. This would proceed any campaigning. In fact, there should be a stipulation that anyone caught campaigning during this phase would be immediately disqualified. This first vote should be based solely on merit and not popularity or charisma. This would be the first stage of the vote. This is where all that extra-credit would come in. Those with the most experience, the highest IQs, the most education, and who have done the most good in the various communities would likely hold an edge over those who just barely met the minimum requirements.
Once the candidates have been selected each of them should be given a campaign fund of equal amounts. This money should come from our tax dollars and no outside sources, allowing for all candidates to operate on an equal playing field. If we can spend billions of dollars on military equipment we never use we can spend a few million on selecting competent leadership. None of the candidate's own money could be used in the campaign and no private donations could be accepted. No corporate lobbyists would be allowed to drop millions of dollars into a candidates fund indepting him forever to that corporation. I can't believe we allow this shit to go on now. It is a direct line to corruption. There would also be a standard of ethics that would prevent mudslinging and muckraking. A candidate's record would be fair game but his personal life would be off limits.
Now, after all of this has taken place and we have selected our candidate for the office of the presidency, presumably someone with perhaps a Doctorate in Sociology and Political Science coupled with a Masters in Economics, someone with an IQ in the top 2%, someone who has maybe served as the Mayor of a major city for four years and State Governor for another four to eight years. someone who has demonstrated his moral character by volunteering at women's shelters in East LA, homeless shelters in New York, orphanages in Utah, AIDS wards in Oakland, and Community Centers in Ohio, he would have one year from his inauguration to take action on his campaign promises or risk impeachment for fraud against the American people. His State of The Union Address would include a progress report on where he is at on fulfilling his promises. The last step would be the President's salary. This is the one area in which I disagree with Plato. We live in a capiltalist country and money is the great motivator. A President's salary should be based on his performance just like the head of any major corporation. He should be incentivised for lowering the national debt, crime, unemployment, improving foreign policy, etc. The better he does at his job the more money he has the potential to make. Reward and recognition has long been accepted as the driving forces in the American workplace. We need to adopt this theory in government as well.
The best and the brightest should lead. Even if you don't agree with my ideas on how to determine the best and the brightest I trust you will agree that we deserve only the best in our leadership and that our current system of selection is not geared towards identifying and selecting those individuals. There may be something that you might add to the selection process I've outlined. There may be parts that you would omit. Still, I hope that you would agree that some sort of minimum standards are necessary. Our country is currently being run by a "C" student. How do you like the results so far?