My daughter told me an amusing story. A group of medieval monks were arguing about the number of teeth in a horse's mouth, trying to remember what number Aristotle had claimed they had. A young monk said, "Well, we all rode here on horses. Why don't we just go out to the stable, open the mouth of a horse, and count the teeth?" His idea was dismissed as nonsensical.
In today's political world, we rarely go out to the stable to actually take inventory of what is needed. Instead, it is fashionable to debate about what the writers' of the constitution actually meant by this or that point. Readers of this blog will know that I frequently refer to the need for social invention as a partner to technological invention. I'd like to ask the reader to step away from the constitution and walk out to the stable with me as I make the case for a change to our current politics.
Intel is increasingly relying on "two-in-a-box" executive positions. Instead of putting a single person in charge of their communications division, they'll put two. The markets, the technology, and the direction of the business are so complex that it makes sense to share authority over it. Why not consider this model for the US Presidency. The complexity facing the holder of that position is certainly no less than that facing the two-person teams running an Intel division.
Imagine that we have, say, Joe Biden and John Edwards, sharing the presidency. Biden could couple his foreign policy smarts and experience with Edwards domestic agenda and youth. Or, depending on your brand of coffee, you might prefer to see McCain and Chuck Hagel, or for the really bold, Clinton and Huckabee (who may come from different parties but who both come from Arkansas). I, for one, quite like the idea of two people sharing duties, one able to largely focus on foreign policy affairs and the other focused on domestic issues.
I know, I know. Supposedly presidents have cabinets to help complement their expertise. But it is a very different thing to give advice and be responsible for implementing that advice. Partnership has a great tradition in this country. Think of Hewlett & Packard or Laurel & Hardy. Isn't it time that we stepped out into the stable and took stock of what we really expect of a president before concluding that it is a one-person job?