Ideal candidates are genius at politics (they know how to get elected) and policy (they can make the world better once they are elected) and are focused more on what they can do than what flaws they now have or have had in the past.
So who am I looking for in 2020? My ideal candidate would
- Promote disruption in the form of entrepreneurship and social invention and help to mitigate the trauma of disruption in the form of social safety nets. Entrepreneurship should be taught and set up as expectation for a segment of the population in the same way that college education now is and governments and communities should do what they can to make it easier for entrepreneurs to be successful and less painful for individuals impacted by their success.
- Move to change laws so that employees are better able to use corporations as tools for creating wealth, to work towards the popularization of entrepreneurship as a way to transform work.
- Invest record amounts in research in every field.
- Create research funding for major agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency Housing and Urban Development, Department of Energy, Department of Education, Department of Transportation and Justice Department that rivals the research funding for the Department of Defense.
- Create a new cabinet position: the Secretary of Happiness (and the pursuit thereof).
- Will support an independent Fed and Keynesian policy
- Keep us highly engaged in international organizations like NATO, the UN, WTO and even lead initiatives to create new institutions to deal with the myriad realities that spill across borders
- Move towards subsidizing university education the same way we do high school education, leaving students without debt.
- Be a strong advocate for immigration
- Move towards more comprehensive job training and retraining programs that make groups other than knowledge workers more productive.
- Help promote connection. Not only at the individual level as a route to richer communities (and lower suicide rates) but at an institutional level as a route to making corporations, schools, NGOs, and government agencies more robust.
- Work towards universal healthcare by whatever means is politically practical (see social safety nets).
- Take climate change seriously,
- Police poor neighborhoods and financial institutions with equal vigor and respect.
- Not be a fan of universal basic income.
- Think it is normal rather than evil for a country to have billionaires and poor people.
- Think it makes sense to tax inheritance more than returns on capital more than income (rather than the reverse as it is now).
- Think that it makes sense to increase the marginal tax rate but never to higher than 50%.
- Ask a little more of everyone in the top 50% and ask everyone in the top 70% to pay taxes to contribute to the quality of our common good.
- Believe that life will be better in 100 years and is choose to act in a way that enhances life in a century rather than ignores it.
- Experiments their way into the future
- And perhaps most importantly, knows that mistakes are inevitable and given that chooses to err on the side of kindness when uncertain about a policy or judgement. People critical of this candidate would alternate between criticizing them for being so wonkish (loving policy and numbers) and being soft-hearted.
I don't expect any one candidate who checks all these boxes to emerge, so I will vote for the candidate who comes closest to this. Perhaps.
There is even one scenario in which I might be persuaded to vote for a candidate who checks only a few of the items on this list. That would be to vote for a candidate who promises me that Donald Trump will die in jail. We have an entire generation who could watch Donald Trump and believe that it is a good idea to lie, cheat, and to approach every encounter as a win-lose engagement. Parents need to be able to tell their sons, "Sure you can choose to be selfish and combative your whole life, ignoring every law and social norm. You can be just like Trump. And you might die in jail." If we have millions of people believing that Trump's parasitic behavior is a good strategy, our country will become like every other dysfunctional country where bribery and corruption are the norms and people with good hearts and a sense of fair play are considered dupes. Failure to implement my policy ideas would pale in comparison to the damage wrought by Trump becoming a norm for behavior.