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posted on 20 September 2016

American Presidency: Let’s Redefine It, Now (Version 3)!

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Both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama are proven disasters not only for America (e.g. the crushing national debt), but also for the world (e.g. ISIS)!

What about the next President: Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton? They look even worse, because both of them already have an unfavorable rating of more than 50%!

Why is that? "It's the political system, stupid!" As a starter, let's redefine the American Presidency for the 21st century and beyond!

1. Introduction

Leadership matters! The American Presidency matters!

In a globalized world like ours having enough nuclear weapons to blow up the Earth several times over, the American Presidency matters not only to America, but also to the world!

Unfortunately, over the past five decades, at least, there have been too few good American Presidents, but far too many bad ones (Top 10 American Misconceptions about 10 Recent American Presidents).

While great American Presidents have often been the products of both persona and timing, it's becoming increasingly obvious that "it's the American Presidency, stupid!"

2. American Presidency: an overview

America was built as a republic, heavily copied from the Roman Republic (America: What Did Our Founding Fathers Do, Actually?). One of the copied items is the 3-branch structure of the government to share power, as shown below.

Until recently, this structure has worked very well for America, although our political history is full of stories of power struggles among the three branches, especially between the Legislative and Executive branches. Generally speaking, a strong President has resulted in a weaker Congress, while a weak President has resulted in a more powerful Congress.

For discussion, let's divide our political history, with regard to the American Presidency, into two periods as follows:

  1. 1789 - 1945.
  2. 1946 - Present.

Let's examine them one by one, respectively.

2.1 1789 - 1945

The image below tells it all: the four most memorial American Presidents!

After the two famous Founding Fathers (i.e. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson), America had two great Presidents: Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. Specifically,

  1. Abraham Lincoln: He frequently marginalized Congress, using the war (i.e. American Civil War) as an excuse. For example, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation in the form of an executive order, without Congressional approval!
  2. Theodore Roosevelt: The 26th President largely ruled by executive orders (List of United States federal executive orders), issuing 1,081 of them, which is almost as many as all his 25 predecessors did, combined (1,262)!

Overall, great Presidents were few and far between!

2.2 1946 - present

After WWII, America became a virtual economic monopoly, as its chief competitors either were destroyed via the war (e.g. Germany and Japan) or continued/adopted a fundamentally flawed system called communism after the war (e.g. the USSR and China). In other words, America was on cruise control. It was such a smooth ride on the back of our superb capitalism that America could afford anything and everything, including many mediocre American Presidents. Specifically, here are my two arguments:

  1. From 1950 to 1999, the American Presidency mattered little. Anybody reasonably intelligent could have been the President without making a big difference.
  2. Since 2000, the American Presidency has mattered a lot more. Both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama are proven disasters, making even Jimmy Carter, previously widely regarded the worst, look much better by comparison!

What happened in 2000? The world had changed so much after the Cold War ended in 1991 that 2000 turned out to be a tipping point, with BRICS, led by China, becoming formidable competitors to the West! For example, China has not only the size to fully compete with America, but also a totally different political system, which is, in my opinion, slightly better than America's. For more, read: Towards an Ideal Form of Government.

America, on the other hand, has failed to adapt adequately. Two examples:

  1. America's foreign and economic policies have not adequately changed after 1991.
  2. America's political system has stagnated for the past 200 years!

As a result, by 2000, America had not only more economic competitors than it had in the 1980s, but also more political enemies (e.g. Islamic extremists) than ever. No American Presidents, from 1950 to 1999, faced such dual challenges, especially on the economic front. Two examples:

  1. Job losses due to economic downturns had been temporary before, but more and more permanent after 2000, thanks to automation and globalization. Oh, do not be fooled by the recent low unemployment rate - The labor participation rate is at the 1978 low (Labor Market Participation Rate Continues to Slump)!
  2. Years of excessive spending (e.g. public-sector unions, Social Security, and Medicare & Medicaid) have finally caught up with us. Our national debt is more than $19 trillion now, growing rapidly!

Consequently, the incompetence of the American political system in general, and the American Presidency specifically, has become much more apparent and ominous. Subsequently, today, America has not only even more economic competitors and political enemies than in 2000, but also much stronger duals than in 2000!

It’s time to reform our political system, as I have suggested, starting with a stronger American Presidency, designed to produce many good Presidents!

3. American Presidency: it's a joke!

Currently, the American Presidency is a joke! Anybody can be the American President - just be a U.S.-born citizen and older than 35 - No experience required! Read: So you want to run for president? Just sign here. It asks "far fewer questions than a McDonald's job application"!

For more, read: American Presidency: Is It a Joke (III)?

4. American Presidency: calling for a stronger one!

We need a stronger American President like Putin!

We need a stronger American Presidency like China's! For more, read: Chinese Presidency: An Earned Kingship for 10 Years.

5. American Presidency: what is a stronger one?

We need to introduce some elements of (China's) autocracy into our democracy, which means running our country like a gigantic company, with a structure as follows:

  1. The President runs the daily show.
  2. The board of directors (or Senate) oversees the direction.
  3. The shareholders (or House of Representatives) intercede only to prevent or correct grave mistakes.

To ensure a stronger American Presidency, we must raise the statutory requirements for the President. Specifically, three major changes:

  1. American Presidency: Why is One-Term a Must (Version 3)?
  2. American Presidency: Starting at Age 55-65! The recent concern about Hillary Clinton’s health has further strengthened this argument.
  3. Having served as a state governor for one full-term, at least.

For more, read: Solution for America (Version 3).

Even with these major changes, the American Presidency is still inherently inferior to the Chinese Presidency. Two examples:

  1. A Chinese President typically has served not only as a state governor but also as the Vice President, with a substantial amount of experiences, both domestic and international, under his belt before ascending to the top job in China. Can an American President possibly be prepared for the top job in America like that? No, not even close!
  2. A Chinese President has 10 years (i.e. two five-year terms) to run the show without worrying about re-election. Can an American President match that? With a new one-term limit, the American President should serve for six years, making the job more competitive with the Chinese Presidency!

Bottom line: The changes I have proposed would be a good start to improving the competency of the American Presidency, thus improving America's overall chance for success!

6. How to make it happen?

We need Constitutional changes to the American Presidency! We did it before. For example, with the Twenty-Second Amendment, we have limited the American Presidency to two terms. But that's not good enough anymore! We should further limit it to one term. For more, read: American Presidency: Why is One-Term a Must (Version 3)?

America is desperately in need of a great peaceful transformational leader like China's Deng Xiaoping. Now, between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Trump excels for one reason: he has the potential of becoming Deng-like (Donald Trump vs. Deng Xiaoping). On the other hand, with President Hillary Clinton, expect more of the same, only worse!

Although Trump is totally un-tested in public service, Deng was far worse than Trump: Deng was a bloody communist before becoming arguably the greatest peaceful transformational leader in human history!

7. Closing

America, do not remain complacent and do not give up (It's time to Abandon the Pursuit for Great Leaders). Reform our political system as I have suggested (Solution for America (Version 3)), or become an also-ran, second to China!

Yes, this election will prove to be the most consequential in our history. No, most of us like neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton. But still you must pick the lesser of two evils. For me, it is the obnoxious, twice-divorced, and egomaniac Trump!

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