The U.S. Presidency is the most difficult job in the world (besides being a mother, #shamlesspandering).
The U.S. President is the head of our government and the head of our state. More specifically, he directs our federal government’s executive branch where he’s responsible for implementing and enforcing the laws written by the legislative branch and, to that end, appoints his Cabinet and the head of various federal agencies. Our president is also the world’s most powerful political figure as the leader of the nation with the largest economy by nominal GDP (China’s projected to surpass the US by 2032) and as the Commander-in-Chief of the world’s largest military.
With this much responsibility wouldn’t it, therefore, be wise if a president-elect and his team/Cabinet went into a 4-week US Presidency Basic Training Bootcamp?
After all, the military requires basic training for its new recruits so shouldn’t the Commander-in-Chief lead by example?
Army Basic Training is 10 weeks. A typical day generally follows this schedule…
Presidency Basic Training could generally follow this schedule…
Presidency Basic Training would serve three key objectives:
Create a greater sense of trust & camaraderie within the team/Cabinet.
Camaraderie is the essence of what binds military units together, providing a cohesiveness among the individual members, which allows the unit to function effectively as a collective entity. — Lt. Col. Tom Vance, 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron commander
Get every official Ready on Day 1 by knowing everything about their department, responsibilities, leadership, emergency situations, etc. Catastrophe can happen at any moment. 9/11 happened less than 8 months into the Bush presidency, Obama assumed office in the midst of a great recession, and Biden assumed office in the midst of a great recession and a global pandemic. A president cannot afford to learn on the job.
Establish a clear 100 Day Action Plan, which is usually the best time for a new president to enact their agenda.
Presidency Basic Training shouldn’t be a constitutional requirement, but I think since the first presidential administration who embraces this program would likely be more successful as a consequence then it’d naturally become a recurring precedent, especially due to its novelty, which would draw favorable media attention for the president-elects’ that boot-up and negative media attention for those who try to bail out.
If a Presidency Bootcamp became precedent there’d also be a lot of side benefits…
It’d make the president-elect feel more connected to America’s past as he’d be going through a similar challenging month-long ritual as many of his predecessors, which may just make him a bit more reverent toward America’s traditions and constitution, which is appealing to me as a conservative.
Another side benefit is it would elevate a culture of discipline. Americans would see their president-elect putting himself through an exhaustive training program, which would demonstrate that the president is taking the job seriously by making some real personal sacrifices (living in the White House isn’t so much a personal sacrifice).
The camp would have a strict no recording policy as a way to create a more intimate/focused environment, but nonetheless, information may get out that humanizes the president-elect. It would also help redefine the meaning of “presidential” into something more meaningful. Currently, appearing presidential has a lot to do with seeming above the public instead of beside or even below it as should be expected out of our “public servants.” If photos leaked of a 70-something president-elect struggling to crawl through the mud then perhaps the damage to his “image” would inspire him to approach his power a bit more humbly.
If stories don’t leak during the camp then they’ll eventually leak over time from its participants writing autobiographies. This would add to the richness of American history by getting a better window into how our leaders handled adversity in Bootcamp. In schools across America, teachers could explain what the experience was/is like based on reports, books, and movies.
Over time as more and more administrations complete basic training then the program will be tweaked and the camp’s history enriched to the point where it’d become an extremely effective training school (for a president to then “fail” would mean his predecessors would deserve some of the blame for having not made the camp effective enough, which former presidents’ sense of responsibility for their successor’s training may lead to a bit more bipartisanship).
The central criticism of a somewhat secretive Presidency Basic Training, especially if it became a longstanding tradition, is that it could lead to more conspiracy theories, which could lead a president-elect to abandon the concept as a way to buck “the establishment,” but the reality is that the structure/location/team/staff/duration would be entirely up to each respective president-elect so it’d be hard to paint a conspiracy theory around a camp that besides the concept of a camp could be (although unrecommended) completely original from what his predecessors’ went through. It’d be like trying to tie a thread between one President’s Cabinet to the next even though each is largely independent of the last.
Like many novel political ideas that sound great on paper, this concept should be tested on a smaller scale first by having a governor or mayor go through their own version of an Executive Bootcamp. And then if my hypothesis is correct that this concept would be hugely beneficial to an administration’s success then I think similar to “constitutional republicanism” it’d not only spread from a state to the nation but from the nation to the globe. Get some!
Drop and give us 20, Mr. President.
P.S. Thanks for reading! Please let me know if you have any additional ideas for the training program’s syllabus/structure or any thoughts/concerns you may have with it!