Soon after Bill Clinton was elected in 1992, he convened an economic summit in his home town of Little Rock, AR. He saw the biggest challenge that he would face upon assuming the presidency would be to jump-start the economy.
If Hillary Clinton is elected this November 8, and if there is no gratuitous challenge to the results from one Donald Trump, then she too will likely work to make good use of the transition period, the time between Election Day and the inauguration on January 20, 2017.
Candidates are generally cautious in talking about the transition prior to the election, but we know that they all do. Similarly, journalists, pundits, bloggers as well as lobbyists and potential job seekers engage in the parlor game well before the election even takes place.
Here are three suggestions for items of study that could be very beneficial to a President-elect Clinton during the transition.
- Counseling about her propensity for secretiveness and non-transparency
- Advice from President Obama on how he minimized corruption in his administration for eight years.
- Discussion with futurists about how technological and social changes in the economy may lessen the demand for jobs performed by humans and what can be done to begin transition to a “fourth-wave” economy.
Suggestion number one may seem jarring. Let me clarify that I mean counseling in the generic sense, seeking and receiving advice. While it may be that Clinton could benefit greatly from professional counseling on her defenses (as most of the rest of us might at some points in our life), it would not be politically helpful for her to enter therapy at this time. But what would be acceptable and very helpful would be for her to seek out friends and others who have expressed concern about her repeated instances of “getting behind the curve” because she is slow to disclose. In many ways, this could be less risky than assumed because thirty years of evidence has shown that despite numerous extensive investigations, she has never been found guilty of any major transgression.
But despite a career record of honesty that far exceeds most politicians, it cannot be denied that millions of Americans do not see her as trustworthy. Yes, part of this can be attributed to the “vast right-wing conspiracy,” but she has repeatedly provided them with fodder to continuously advance this meme. Hillary Clinton needs to sit down for some conversation from which she might want to get up and leave, but it would do her well to engage. It is not necessary for her to understand any or all of the psychological reasons why she “clams up” and does not disclose. What is necessary is for her to have close advisors who can tell her when a lack of disclosure portends poorly for her and how to actually disclose in a timely and willing fashion. It does not have to be that different from a parent reminding an adolescent who has been a little carefree with money to make sure that he or she gets correct change after a cash transaction. In the case of Ms. Clinton, she must go through a checklist of presidential items where without change she might opt for less transparent than is necessary. The follow-up would be for her to seriously consider alternative actions that would allow her to stay in front of the curve.
President Obama could probably give her good advice in this regard and also tips on keeping her administration as “clean” as possible. No other president in modern history has been as scandal free as Barack Obama. There are a few tricks to his trade, such as not hiring former lobbyists onto the White House staff (a promise generally well-kept). Hillary Clinton would do well to look for fresh faces. As a way of better connecting with those who currently support Trump, she might want to go a little lighter on politicians and even academics. A labor secretary who is union-bred would be very helpful as would a transportation secretary who has not been a mogul. She would do well to follow advice from Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders on consumer and fair practices issue. A clear break with “business as usual” would be very helpful to her.
Finally, Clinton would do well to consult with futurists on how society is changing. Her husband rode the “Third Wave” (the initial digital age) that Alvin Toffler wrote about in 1970 in Future Shock. In many ways, it is remarkable that unemployment in the United States is only 5% in light of the out-sourcing, automation and computerization we have experienced since the 1990s. But we are now seeing on the horizon a new wave of inventions and practices that will potentially eliminate jobs in an unprecedented fashion. Will driverless cars mean the end of truck, bus and cab drivers? Will computers be able to do new forms of analysis and interpretation such as reading X-rays? Is the teaching profession further endangered by computerized learning? Will the metal fabrication of tomorrow be so automated that we will hardly remember what steelworkers were?
The bigger question is: What will human beings do when there are fewer and fewer jobs? How will we “earn our keep?” In one sense we will all be richer because more goods and services will be available. But what if that happens without us earning money? Do we need to re-define jobs and do we need to think of income as opposed to salaries or wages?
These are difficult questions, but addressing them becomes more urgent every day. It would behoove Clinton, if she becomes president, to look well beyond the twenty-four-hour news cycle or even the trade deals of today and look at the trade winds of how humankind is changing as we move further into the twenty-first century.
There will be little time to wax philosophical about these three issues once Clinton takes office. She needs to quickly redefine what it means to be the “best and the brightest” and how she can most effectively be part of that.