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Six Sigma for Politicians

June 25, 2011

There are two legal requirements to be President – you must be at least thirty-five years old on the day of election and you must be a natural-born citizen.  I disagree with both of them.  They’re arbitrary, unnecessary and do nothing to ensure we have good candidates running for office.  This does NOT, however, mean that I oppose ALL POSSIBLE requirements for the presidency.  There are two I can think of off-hand that I would love to see implemented – executive experience and a fundamental knowledge base.

The first requirement is easy to explain and implement.  In order to be the head of the executive branch of the most powerful government in the world, you should have executive experience.  This can come in any of a variety of forms – if you were a Governor of a state, a head of a large corporation, a senior military leader or even a mayor of a major city, you have executive experience.  Ideally, you should have at least five years, but really, I’m looking for quality more than quantity.  I want to know that you have been in charge of something big before and I want to look at your past performance and see how you actually run things.  In short, I want SOMETHING on your résumé that suggests you can actually handle the position and don’t need four years of on the job training to get up to speed.

The second requirement is a little more problematic.  I want my president to have a core foundation of knowledge that is absolutely required for the job.  This core would consist of a basic understanding of the following subjects at a minimum:

  • The principles of the U.S. Constitution
  • National Policy
  • Concepts of effective Military Deployment
  • Economics
  • International Affairs
  • The theories and principles of the role of government in society.

I’m not even asking for a particular political slant to these subjects, just that any candidate for the presidency can show that he has a competent level of familiarity and understanding of them.  But that’s the problem.  Currently we don’t have an objective measure of the candidates’ knowledge in these areas making it hard to judge.

That’s where my idea comes in.

to meet this need, we should have some form of certification by an independent agency willing to assure us that the candidates do, in fact, have this knowledge.  Basically, it would be like Six Sigma – where they can test the politicians and then, based on that, certify that they possess at least a certain level of mastery of the subjects.  This could be useful even at more local levels.  We could require that our mayor have at least a green belt to qualify for the position.  We could tailor the qualifications for particular positions – requiring a black belt in international affairs for governing New York or at least a brown belt in economics for running California.  If nothing else, at least then, when a particular advisor tries to explain something to one of our leaders, he will have a good chance of actually understanding what he is saying.


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