What does it take to be a competent performer in government enterprise as an elected leader and officeholder? In the instance of the President of the United States, it takes a super bureaucratic executive. If you want to be shocked and humbled by the enormity of scope and scale of the President’s job, just consider the organization chart.
“The full version with all of the departments and all 3 million federal employees would probably cover the floor of Cowboys Stadium in a 12-point font. Of course within a nano-second, it would be obsolete.”
Getting a handle on the President’s job takes some doing, but it is within the realm of management. One must question what it takes to effectively manage the U.S. government. It is fair to suggest that we may have insufficient bandwidth in terms of numbers of qualified elected representatives and incumbents in various offices.
When I wrote Chapter 2 to “How to select and elect a U.S. President", I began with an analysis of responsibilities: “Chapter 2: Analysis of the duties and responsibilities of the president of the United States.”
To determine the desired qualifications and characteristics of U. S. presidential candidates, voters need to analyze and understand the duties and responsibilities of the office as described by the United States Constitution as that is the definitive source providing for executive power.
2.1 United States Constitution
The Preamble of the Constitution provides a context for defining the process of optimizing government enterprise performance that is the primary responsibility of the President. The Constitution does not use my words in saying this, though I provide a reasonable and accurate interpretation, I think. “We the People” must breathe life into the Constitution and to adapt application to contemporary needs. The American system of government makes this a living and continuously improving process.
Systems Analyst View
- Natural Resources
Optimize Return on National Resources (That is the ultimate job of the President that is shared by his cabinet department heads and flows through the chain of managerial command throughout government.)
Three Branches: 1.) Executive, 2.) Legislative, and 3.) Judicial
- Government Departments and Agencies
- Contractors (private sector)
- Domestic tranquility provided
- Common defense provided
- General welfare provided
- Liberty secured
Now, of course, you might say that is a very high level description and needs more definition. That is exactly right, though this is our starting position in the Constitution.
What the “outputs” mean is different for every generation and is recalibrated with every administration and modified by presidential (executive leadership), legislative, and judicial actions which “We the People” control through our voting for Presidents, Representatives, and Senators. Outputs are outcomes and results that aggregate from each department and agency to the top of each administration.
Output definitions and their respective performance metrics are 1) inherited from past administrations often with a 10-year backlog, and 2) initiated by the incoming President. What is the capacity of government and a new administration to address the backlog and to accommodate additions, change, and improvement? That is one of the most important questions voters should pose before presidential candidates because it will provide an opportunity for candidates to demonstrate their depth of thought and understanding about the job and the situation.
How does the government transform inputs into high yield outputs as defined here? That is the principal question? Given the high complexity in scope and scale of our national needs, laws and regulations assure a certain baseline performance that is intended to be addressed within the nation’s financial means. Variable is the economy and variable are global circumstances, but the bottom line is that performance must be optimized within the bounds of our national capacity to govern. There are limits on our capacity and they are flexible to an extent.
The primary “control” on the American system is the Constitution. Each administration working in concert with Congress impose specific constraints that are expressed in plans, laws, regulations, budgets, schedules, and performance metrics.
Controls & Constraints:
- Laws & regulations
- Plans & programs
- Budgets, funding & schedules
- Performance metrics
Optimize Return On National Resources: note that “national resources” includes: 1) natural resources such as land, water, and minerals for instance, 2) capital as in funds raised to manage government and to fulfill legislated obligations, and 3) citizens as in “We the People” and our corporations as corporations are treated as citizens. These items are considered as inputs into the process. The process activity is “optimization.” Optimization means producing the highest performance possible from what there is to work with.
Enabling mechanisms include people and technology denoted by arrows coming into the activity box from the bottom.
“Controls and Constraints” are the arrows coming into the top of the box.
The “outputs,” outcomes and results are the arrows exiting the activity.
You may wonder where corporations, merchants, and farmers fit into this picture. What about capitalism?
First, each of these entities is people or collections of people established as legal entities that perform by a system of contingent claim contracts. Therefore, from a president’s viewpoint and government viewpoint, these are constituents and assets of the nation.
The entire system is governed by legal constraints and mechanisms and therefore it makes sense that presidential candidates are either 1) trained in the law or 2) have considerable experience working through legal mechanisms in complex relationships with multiple organizations.
In a capitalist economy such as ours and in the greater global economic system, people working in the private sector produce products and services for global consumption and from which business entities earn a return that contributes to the Gross Domestic Product. “‘Gross domestic product’ (GDP) refers to the market value of all goods and services produced within a country in a given period. It is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living.”
Therefore, GDP must be considered as a performance metric for the President of the United States. When GDP is positive and growing, that is a healthy index for American government enterprise performance.
Executive power is embodied in the president by the Constitution such that 1) the incumbent decides which laws and restrictions are best for citizens; 2) the incumbent drafts a budget for each year, 3) when required the incumbent acts as the Commander-in-Chief and the Chief Diplomat in addressing wars and crises. While this simple description is factual, it is far from actionable as it is too vague.
Without digressing too far from the Constitution, citizen voters should be aware that Presidents use certain tools to communicate to their staff departments such as memoranda and executive orders.
“An ‘executive order’ in the United States is an order issued by the President, the head of the executive branch of the federal government. Executive Orders are generally orders to staff of the executive branch and not to citizens. Article I, Section 1 of the US Constitution specifically reserves all federal legislative authority to Congress, not the president. In other countries, executive edicts can serve a legislative function. Such edicts may be known as decrees, or orders-in-council.”
Executive Orders from recent presidents
- Obama 182 (so far)
- GW Bush 268
- Clinton 363
- G. Bush 165
- Reagan 380
- Carter 319
- Ford 168
- Nixon 345
- Johnson 323
- Kennedy 213
- Eisenhower 481
- Truman 893
- FD Roosevelt 3,466
From the Executive Orders Disposition Tables Index at the National Archives
Observe that in portions of the U. S. Constitution quoted below that the language refers to the President as “he,” and today of course this sexist treatment is unacceptable and the law should say “the incumbent.”
“Article II - The Executive Branch Section 1 - The President
The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice-President chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
(The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not lay an Inhabitant of the same State with them. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately choose by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner choose the President. But in choosing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; a quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two-thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall choose from them by Ballot the Vice-President.) (This clause in parentheses was superseded by the 12th Amendment.)
The Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.
No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
(In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.) (This clause in parentheses has been modified by the 20th and 25th Amendments.)
The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.
Before he enters on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Section 2 - Civilian Power over Military, Cabinet, Pardon Power, Appointments
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.
Section 3 - State of the Union, Convening Congress
He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.
Section 4 - Disqualification
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
“Amendment 12 - Choosing the President, Vice-President. Ratified 6/15/1804
The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;
The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;
The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President.
The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.”
Amendment 20 - Presidential, Congressional Terms. Ratified 1/23/1933
1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.
2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.
3. If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.
4. The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.
5. Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the ratification of this article.
6. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission.”
“Amendment 22 - Presidential Term Limits. Ratified 2/27/1951.
1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President, when this Article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.
2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.”
“Amendment 25 - Presidential Disability and Succession. Ratified 2/10/1967.
1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.
2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.
3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.
4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.”
This concludes the quotation of the U. S. Construction and subject amendments pertaining to the President.
2.2 Selecting a Vice President
One of the most significant responsibilities of a candidate for President in concert with their respective political party is the selection of a running mate, a vice presidential candidate. Therefore, the advice in this book is equally applicable to the presidential candidates in their selecting running mates.
If I gave to you a list of former vice presidents, I bet that you would not recognize many of them. Yet, when calamity strikes and America loses a President, the Vice President steps in to fill those shoes. Presidential candidates and voters must be very deliberate in considering vice presidents. (See Appendix B: Vice Presidents of the United States)
Threats to U. S. Presidents
9% of American Presidents have been assassinated, and 30% have been a target of assassination or assassinated. Being president is hazardous. Given the fact that the population has increased and guns in America are prolific, the probability that a president could be assassinated has increased.
- Abraham Lincoln
- James A. Garfield
- William McKinley
- John F. Kennedy
- Andrew Jackson
- Abraham Lincoln
- Theodore Roosevelt
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
- Harry S. Truman
- John F. Kennedy
- Richard Nixon
- Gerald Ford
- Ronald Reagan
- George H. W. Bush
- Bill Clinton
- George W. Bush
- Barack Obama
One may wonder why past presidents picked their running mates because in many instances the vice president has been an “opposite.” Maybe their views and values are aligned, but their backgrounds and abilities may be very different. Sometimes, their views and values are misaligned, though circumstances and political decisions resulted in compromise to produce a winning ticket.
Compare Franklin Delano Roosevelt with Harry S. Truman for instance. Roosevelt was from the privileged aristocracy and an intellect while Truman was from a humble background and lacked education and worldly experience. Yet, when thrust into the office by the death of the President, Truman arose to the responsibility. Was he the best possible candidate for the job? Was his performance acceptable in meeting the challenges of the time? Why did Roosevelt select Truman as his running mate? Such circumstances should give voters pause for consideration.
From a different view, maybe this is an example of how forgiving the American system is, and how strong it is in supporting a president. Maybe the collective “We the People” just get it right, for a moment.
Then again, consider the possibility that “We the People” are so unprepared for the task of selecting our leaders that we are reckless and accidental in our approach. In words that Harry Truman would appreciate, we are damned lucky.
The first woman vice presidential candidate was Geraldine Ferraro.
“Ferraro grew up in New York City and became a teacher and lawyer. She joined the Queens County District Attorney's Office in 1974, where she headed the new Special Victims Bureau that dealt with sex crimes, child abuse, and domestic violence. She was elected to Congress in 1978, where she rose rapidly in the party hierarchy while focusing on legislation to bring equity for women in the areas of wages, pensions, and retirement plans. In 1984, former Vice President and presidential candidate Walter Mondale selected Ferraro to be his running mate in the upcoming election. In doing so she became the only Italian American to be a major-party national nominee in addition to being the first woman.”