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Here’s How to Manage Our Politicians

With the right oversight, they can serve the people well.

by
Vik Rubenfeld

Bio

March 30, 2011 - 12:00 am

It’s well-known that employees acting on their own, without management, will get out of control. They will lose sight of the common goal and act as individuals rather than as a united group.

Our elected officials are our employees, and the reason they are out of control to some degree, as a group, may be in part that we the people have never made any serious effort to manage them. We left management of the politicians to the mainstream media, but it turns out that the mainstream media has no wish to carry out that function. Could it be possible that there may be a way for voters to organize so as to manage elected officials using established principles of good management — “What gets measured gets done,” “Catch them doing something right,” etc.?

The purpose of this article is to propose a framework for discussing how such an organization might be constituted.

GOALS

Effective management begins with the setting of goals. The single most important part of developing such an organization is the specification of the goals of the people. The goals must be long-term and evergreen. This would differentiate the organization from groups that focus on specific legislation.

Potential goals include:

National Security

  • Safety of U.S. citizens at home and abroad

Financial Health of Federal and State Governments:

  • Increasing GDP
  • Decreasing deficit
  • Decreasing debt

Financial Health of the People

  • Increasing average and median income
  • Reducing unemployment

Medical Health

  • Increasing life expectancy
  • Reducing incidence of major diseases
  • Decreasing cost of health care

Upholding the Constitution

  • Per Founders’ intent rather than as a “living document”

Upholding Personal Freedom

  • Reducing taxes
  • Reducing legal regulations and restrictions

Upholding Judeo-Christian Culture

  • Supporting appreciation of the Judeo-Christian Bible

Supporting Capitalism

  • Reducing legal regulations and restrictions on U.S. businesses
  • Increasing financial success of U.S. businesses

Education

  • Reducing cost to taxpayers
  • Increasing test scores
  • Decreasing dropout rates

Smaller Government

  • Reducing number of government employees
  • Reducing state and federal spending

It may be taken as a given that there would be liberal as well as conservative organizations of the kind described in this article. The goals shown here are draft goals for a proposed conservative organization.

APPROPRIATE MANAGEMENT PRINCIPLES AND THEIR APPLICATION

Suitable management principles, and methods to apply them, include:

Principle: What gets measured gets done.

Application: The organization would develop scores for each elected official on each of the goals. Via its website, email list, and social networking pages, the organization would encourage the public to make campaign contributions to these elected officials.

Principle: Catch them doing something right.

Application: The organization would regularly feature on its website the latest accomplishments of elected officials towards the furtherance of the goals. An annual award, including a cash gift to the charity of the receiver’s choice, would be given to the official or officials who have done the most towards the furtherance of the goals. Again, the organization would encourage the public to make campaign contributions to top-scoring elected officials.

Principle: Reward failure. “Someone who never fails probably isn’t pushing the envelope.” (From “30 Management Principles of the US Marines.”)

Application: Work towards the goals which is innovative, even though unsuccessful, would be discovered by the organization and praised on the organization’s public website.

Principle: Glorify the lower levels of the organization. “The higher the manager, the harder he or she should work at making it clear that the rank and file are the heroes.” (Again from “30 Management Principles of the US Marines.”)

Application: Staff members of elected officials would be regularly singled out for praise on the organization’s public website.

BI-PARTISANSHIP

Many of the goals, e.g., for national security, financial health of the government and of individuals, etc., are supported by a majority of Americans of both parties. Elected officials should be recognized and rewarded for efforts on behalf of the goals regardless of party affiliation.

MANAGEMENT

It is of course essential that such an organization be superbly managed within its own workforce. All the principles applied to elected officials must also be applied within the organization itself. Similar goals would be applied to the organization itself. Similar methods of appreciation and reward would be used in the organization’s internal website and compensation packages.

FUNDING

Because it is accepted as a given that there would be both conservative and liberal organizations of the kind described in this article, funding can be done in the same way as for any political action group or think tank.

ACCOUNTABILITY

In order to insure that the organization reflects the will of the people, a national opinion poll would be conducted regularly, asking members of the public who identify themselves as conservatives, and who rate themselves as very familiar with the organization, to rate their degree of satisfaction with the organization. If ratings fall below 75% Somewhat or Very Satisfied for three continuous quarters, top management of the organization would be changed.

CONCLUSION

The creation of an organization to provide proper management, direction, and recognition for work well done is a responsibility that we the people have towards our elected officials, who are our employees.

Our politicians are in the difficult position of being poorly managed. No one lays out for them the specific goals they are expected to achieve. They are continuously criticized, continuously in danger of losing their jobs, but systems to provide them with direction and recognition for work well done are absent.

Creation of an organization of the kind described in this article would not only be a paradigm shift in the relationship of the people to their elected officials; it would also close the loop on that relationship in a way that is sorely needed.

Vik Rubenfeld is a 20-year veteran of the polling and market research industry and founder of Rubenfeld Research Associates.
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