Open letter to those considering a run for president

Thoughts from longtime Democratic campaign hand Julie Stauch, who hasn't settled on a 2020 candidate yet. Senator Elizabeth Warren will make her first trip to Iowa as a possible presidential contender this weekend, and others in the field will visit many times. -promoted by Laura Belin

Dear Senators, Governors, U.S. Representatives, Mayors, Authors, Celebrities, and anyone else seriously considering a run for the job of President of the United States,

First, let me thank you for considering a run. It is a daunting task and just looking at running seriously takes courage. Thank you.

The purpose of this open letter is to share with you my observations from ground level in Iowa, to let you know what I am seeking in a presidential candidate, and to pose some questions I hope you will each consider including in your communications.

My experience as a leader in the workplace hiring, retaining, sometimes firing and often promoting employees has taught me that it’s important to look beyond the job description to the organization where the potential employee could be working. What is the climate right now? What is most needed overall? How will this person fit into the mix of people who will work together to solve the most pressing challenges? What are unwritten parts of the job?

These questions are important for me to answer to make sure I impart some of this information to the persons interviewing. And most importantly, to help me decide how to frame my questions for those interviewing, to give me useful perspective on whom to hire. This approach is more valid in the current climate of our government as we seek to fill elected offices.

Where are we, as citizens of the United States, right now? Think of our country as the little red ball on the old paddle ball toy. Every day the country is being held by a child with a short attention span, who has little to no motor coordination. We’re being bounced, tossed, thrown in random directions, and sometimes we sit idle. As a result, we have a stock market rising and falling like the EKG machine in hospital emergency room. We have trade agreements that are on one day, off the next. We have a federal government shutdown. We each do our best to cope, but the circumstances are far beyond the control of any individual citizen.

At the same time, we are more divided than ever before. If trust were a human being, its poll numbers would near zero. Distrust is so palpable, it’s almost as if it is in the water we all consume. How do we form partnerships that increase our chances of success and survival in this climate? Whom can we trust? Why should we trust them? How do we find what unites and connects us, so we can trust again?

Where do we need to be as a country? As wacky as things are, tremendous opportunity is available to us in this chaos. So many of our problems are opportunities that can be fixed and made to work even better than before. With all the deconstruction to our democracy occurring in recent years, there is a tremendous chance to construct a new and better democracy. One that is true to the tenets of our Constitution, but defined by the circumstances of our times, not the 1700s.

What am I seeking in our next President? I am seeking an innovator. A proven innovator. One who not only has ideas on how to make our democracy stronger and more effective, but also experience making change on a larger scale. We need a person who has led innovation and achieved results. We need an innovator who understands what it takes to drive innovation through the democratic process and is willing to do the work to drive it in collaboration with those serving in Congress.

This innovative administrator will also focus and hone the purpose of the offices within the administrative branch, leading the federal employees to act, innovate, and embrace changes that are needed. Top to bottom. Because without the bottom on board, the work won’t get done and the top will not succeed at making the needed change.

We need this innovative leader and administrator to use the power of the Oval Office to work with state leaders inside and outside of U.S. boundaries. Ours is a global world and what happens in one part affects another part. We've seen this in Iowa due to the tariffs imposed by the current administration. We need this innovative leader to be aware of the complexity of our world and have the self-confidence to listen at local levels, supporting that work as is appropriate from the power of the Office of the President of the United States of America. Don’t tweet at us, talk with us. All of us.

Tell Us About Your Experience. Given all the people who are considering a run for President in 2020, I hope you’ll consider answering the following questions as you communicate about your vision for the future of our country and the president's role. I hope you’ll take the time to answer all the questions and answer in the order written here. No matter what order you decide to follow, please answer question four last.

1. Tell me about a problem you worked to solve. Why did you decide to take this on? How did you identify the problem? Often there are symptoms that seem like the problem, but are actually results of an unseen and unrealized problem. What was the real problem at the source of what you set out to solve? What was hard about this work? What was it about the work that kept you focused, even when it was hard? What would you do differently next time?

2. What has been the biggest, most complex problem you’ve worked to solve? Where are you in progress toward the goal? What else needs to be done? Why is this solution important to you?

3. How many people did you have to bring on board to help solve a problem? How did you find those people? What qualities were you seeking in the people you invited in or selected? Why do those qualities matter to you?

4. Why do you want to be president of the United States?

Thank you for considering to serve in this most important office. I look forward to reading and hearing what you each have to say. Good luck!

Best Regards,
Julie Stauch
West Des Moines, Iowa

  • Makes sense to me...

    ...and I think these are very good questions.

    If I could add one more, it would be about information, maybe something roughly like this. When you are learning about a situation or problem, how do you decide where and how to get information and how do you assess whether the information and the information sources are reliable? What kinds of situations and problems have you learned a lot about in the past? What are the broad areas of knowledge that you believe you will need to learn much more about in the future if you run?

    • Great idea, PrairieFan!

      Excellent suggestion as it helps to sort out how does this person learn and grow. Thanks for the suggestion.

      • You're very welcome

        I don't know if there's any question that could effectively determine whether candidates are willing and able to accept and try to deal with realities and facts (and science) that they really, really don't like. If there were, that would be another useful question.

  • Variation

    I do not disagree with the post, but instead of an innovator, I want a visionary. I do not want someone who is going to tell me what the problem is and how to solve it. I am tired of hearing of problems, not that they are to be ignored. Instead, I want someone who can lead and inspire, someone who can say the equivalent of landing a person on the moon in 10 years. Then get the people in place who can figure out how to make that happen, including solving the problems. I do not want the words hope and change. I want the reality of those words' meanings.

    My own assessment of a candidate came with Ronald Reagan's presidency. The issues that are in play during a campaign and on election day will be surpassed by different issues over 4 or 8 years. By knowing what the office holder's priority is, I have been able to understand how that person probably will react to a future issue. From keeping communists out of Central America to keeping Central Americans out the United States the main value will influence decisions on everything else.

    • Outlier

      I think we're saying some of the same things. From my experience one cannot be a successful innovator without being a successful leader, especially at a large scale like government. But proving leadership is harder than proving innovative accomplishments.

      I agree that we cannot know all the issues that might be in play in the upcoming years. We have to trust that this person who is nominated will be engaged with the people of the country, as is appropriate and scalable, and that they will remember the people in the recommendations and actions they take. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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