Note: A guest post today from Chris Carlson my long-time friend, former partner and student of Idaho and national politics. Chris, mostly retired now, is writing a weekly column for the St. Maries Gazette-Record and enjoying the good life in north Idaho. Today, Chris – never shy and retiring – offers thoughts about how to make better use of all the “former” governors in the country. Chris…the floor is yours. Thanks…
A RADICAL PROPOSAL
By Chris Carlson
According to the National Governor’s Association there are 250 living former governors across the United States. That’s an average of five per state. Idaho¸ Montana, and Oregon are right at that average and the state of Washington is slightly above that with six living former governors.
Stop and ponder for a minute what a reservoir of talent, experience, ability, insight, perspective and decision-making that pool of individuals represents. Then sit back and realize that it’s a largely untapped pool. These are people who have had to make tough choices because most states mandate truly balanced budgets (no off the books gimmicks either), people who are used to making decisions and implementing policies.
It should come as no surprise then that most often America turns to governors and former governors when it selects its presidents. In the last 100 years only three presidents have been elected directly from the Senate—-Warren G. Harding, John F. Kennedy, and Barack H. Obama. Sitting or former governors elected president include Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
After reflecting on what an absolutely inhumane circus the path to the presidency has become, I’ve hit upon a radical solution that taps into that unused pool of talent and ability represented by former governors.
Let’s amend the Constitution and establish a College of Governors (former) and much as the College of Cardinals elects a new Pope, this College of Governors would meet every four years to select the President! The two term limit would still apply. But think of the money that would be saved, and what better body would there be than a group of former governors (been there, done that kind of folks) to weigh who is best qualified to carry the awesome responsibilities of the Presidency?
Here’s a roster of former governors in the four northwest states. As I read the list I thought to myself I could easily delegate my presidential ballot to this group and feel, like the All State commercial says, we’d be in good hands. Here’s the list, and as you read it, think about my radical proposal:
Idaho—(5) Cecil D. Andrus, John V. Evans, Phil Batt, Dirk Kempthorne, and Jim Risch.
Montana—(5) Tim Babcock, Ted Schwinden, Stan Stephens, Marc Racicot, and Judy Martz,
Oregon—(5) Mark Hatfield, Vic Atiyeh, Neil Goldschmidt, Barbara Roberts and John Kitzhaber. Dr. Kitzhaber is running again for his old job, and if elected he would drop from the College of Governors.
Washington—(6) Al Rosellini, Daniel J. Evans, John Spellman, Booth Gardner, Mike Lowry and Gary Locke.
The only criteria for belonging to this college would be status as a former Governor (not even necessarily elected). If you’ve been sworn in as a State’s chief executive, you’re in. Neither would there be an age limit. Al Rosellini is now 100 years old and still sharp as a tack.
Nor, just as with the College of Cardinals, would the College of Governors have to select from one of their own. The only mandate would be to select the person in their estimation best qualified to carry out the duties of the Office of the Presidency. Simple majority of those eligible would be sufficient for the white smoke to emerge from the Capital, and the Dean of the College to announce: “We have a new President!”
It really isn’t such a radical idea is it?