The job of President of the United States is one of the most unique executive roles in America. Not only does it come with more power than any other position in the country, but it is one of the few chief executive positions in which a person can land the job without proving they have the requisite skills or knowledge to do the job.
When Barack Obama was on the campaign trail, many critics feared that he lacked the experience necessary to handle the complexities of being president. Now that his first year is office is behind him, even his admirers are beginning to admit that he was not fully prepared. Unfortunately, the same could be said for almost all of the candidates who ran during the last election cycle. A few of them had executive leadership ability but none of them possessed even the basic knowledge that is needed on the first day in the Oval Office.
Obviously, on-the-job training is the only way to really learn how to become an effective president. But it would be useful if they possessed a basic working knowledge before taking the oath of office. What is needed is a plan for helping future candidates acquire the skill-set needed to be the leader of the free worldin other words, a prep school for aspiring presidents. Here’s a modest proposal for such a course and an explanation for how it would work:
Candidates for the course would signal their intention to run for the highest office in the land by applying to head of their political party. Once the candidate was accepted, the DNC, RNC, or third party organization, would fully fund the cost of the schooling and pay the “student” a salary equivalent to a second-term Congressional representative. Candidates would be provided with full health and dental benefits as well two weeks vacation per year.
The 101-week curriculum would begin the week before Inauguration Day and end just in time for the student to organize their campaign for the coming primary season.
The course would include the following seven sections:
Section I Foundation
Course location: Great Books Program at St. Johns College
A 180 academic day program of reading and discussing with others the great books of the Western tradition. The readings, based on the curriculum of St. Johns College, would be organized into five segments: Literature, Politics and Society, Philosophy and Theology, Mathematics and Natural Science, and History. (For example, the ” Politics and Society Seminar” includes: Plutarch: Lives: Lycurgus and Solo, Plato: Republic, Aristotle: Politics, Machiavelli: The Prince , Locke: Second Treatise of Civil Government , Rousseau: On the Origin and Foundations of Inequality , Marx: 1844 Manuscripts , Tocqueville: Democracy in America.)
Time: 36 weeks
Section II Strategic
Course location: U.S. Army War College/Naval War College
The Army War College and the Naval War College prepare students to assume strategic leadership responsibilities and help them better grasp the fundamental essence of war. The academic year would consist of approximately 180 academic days, split equally between the two institutions.
Time: 36 Weeks
Section III Diplomacy
Course: State Department (Foreign Service Exam/A-100 Class)
Foreign Service Officers are the “front-line professionals representing the Department of State at all U.S. embassies, consulates, and other diplomatic missions.” Since the president is the front of that front-line of professionals, shouldn’t they be held to the same standard?
I propose that the prep school include a two week class to prepare them for the rigorous oral and written Foreign Service Exam. Assuming the candidates pass, they’d immediately attend an abbreviated five week version of the A-100 class , the orientation training class for incoming Foreign Service Officers on the US Department of State, information on embassy operation and foreign affairs, intelligence collection and dissemination, and the roles different categories of personnel perform in the conduct of diplomacy.
Time: 7 weeks
Section IV Economics
Course: George Mason University
The curriculum would also include a 12-week crash course in macroeconomics taught by the members of the economics department at George Mason University (Bryan Caplan, Tyler Cowen, Robin Hanson, Walter Williams, et al.). The course would include, if needed, a refresher/remedial course on statistics.
Time: 12 weeks
Section V Management
Course location: Crash-course at McKinsey & Company
The global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company has produced more CEOs than any other company, and is referred to by Fortune magazine as “the best CEO launch pad.” Prep school students would attend a three-week crash course on business, management, and the “McKinsey Way.”
Time: 3 weeks
Section VI Internship
Students would attend an six-week internship based on their previous experience. For example, state governors would serve in the office of a U.S. Senator to learn about legislative tasks, while legislators would shadow a state governor to learn about the role of the executive.
Time 6 weeks
Section VII Communication
Course Location: Dale Carnegie training center
Each student would take a one week Dale Carnegie Course on Effective Communications & Human Relations in order to “learn to strengthen interpersonal relationships, manage stress and handle fast-changing workplace conditions.” Additionally, they would, “be better equipped to perform as a persuasive communicator, problem-solver and focused leader.”
Time: 1 week
Upon completion of this program, the students would be provided with a certificate of completion a list of donors to begin their year-long session of fundraising.
What courses would you include in a prep schools for potential presidents?