Presidential policy formation and The FREEDOM Process™

RANCHO SANTA FE, Ca., March 12, 2012 – Party candidates for the Office of President of the United States habitually offer a moving target when it comes to policy statements.  They ebb and flow with the tides of public opinion that are represented by polling results.  Party candidates also appear to lack a process that tests the breadth and depth of their proposed solutions.

America deserves better.

Allow me to present an alternative:  a clear foundation upon which all policy decisions must be based; and a method for examining solutions I call The FREEDOM Process ™.

The foundation for Presidential policy decisions should be fairly obvious.  Article II requires the following Oath of Office:  “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Anyone seeking to represent the People as President of the United States should understand the gravitas of those words and be fully committed to the responsibilities associated therewith.

The Oath of Office is particularly important because it establishes the basis upon which a President’s decisions must be made (i.e., the Constitution).  Correspondingly, it demands that the President respect the differences in authority that exist between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches of our Government as well as the Liberty that is reserved to the People and the powers that are reserved to States (under the Ninth and Tenth Amendments).

Article II defines the powers of the Executive Branch.  They are fairly limited.  The most compelling responsibility of the President is to serve as the civilian Commander in Chief of the military.  The President may also grant reprieves and pardons for certain federal offenses.  Additionally, the President has the power to enter into treaties and to nominate Cabinet members, Ambassadors, Justices, and other public Ministers and Consuls with the advice and consent of the Senate.  Similarly, there are other comparatively minor powers of appointment that do not require the consent of the Senate.

However, the President’s unstated power resides within his or her ability to influence the direction of Congress and the Federal Judiciary.  It’s called leadership, and it must be executed without political bias.  Instead, it must be based upon a firm and consistent application of the parameters that govern the Office and require the President to serve all of the People rather than just those of a particular political persuasion.

It is important to note that leadership has nothing to do with any misstatement of authority.  I mention this because some of the greatest misrepresentations of our time have started with the words, “When I am elected President, I will … repeal, enact, overturn, etc.”

If you hear Presidential candidates use those words, they are either intentionally distorting their power to secure your vote, or they are fundamentally unaware of the limits of their Constitutional authority.  Neither of those alternatives bodes well for our Country.

In my 25+ years of experience in corporate turnarounds, there was one common thread that is applicable to our country as well.  Each of the companies had gone through the exercise of creating their Vision, Mission, and Values Statements.  They had cast them in bronze and hung them up on the wall only to be dusted once a month by the maintenance crew.  Then, their management teams began to do what was expedient in the short term without regard to whether it was congruent with their Vision, Mission, and Values Statements.  Their management teams made decisions that were in their own best interests (relative to bonuses, etc.) rather than what was in the best interests of their companies, and as a result, their companies began to fail.

That is exactly where we are with regard to our country.

In the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence, we have the greatest political Vision, Mission, and Values Statements in the history of mankind.  Unfortunately, those who represent their Parties rather than the People have chosen to ignore the content of those documents in favor of what is politically expedient in the short term (i.e., what maintains or expands their Party’s power; what attracts donors; what will get them re-elected; etc.).  We cannot afford to allow this to continue.

I take the Office of President very seriously.  I owe you the truth.  I will not overstate what I can do.  What I will pledge to do is to “… faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”  I will consistently apply the Mission, Vision and Values of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence to every policy decision I make as President.  That is how we will bring consistency back to the United States Government and to the policies we present to the People and to the world.

The FREEDOM Process

Political policies have become more reflective of tactical sound bites than well-reasoned strategies.  They generally lack breadth and depth.  Everything is presented as a Yes/No, In/Out, or For/Against decision.  That is all you have come to expect because that is all the Parties are willing to offer.

The Parties manufacture these restrictive beliefs because they need to differentiate their positions.  It has become a game in which the most well-crafted, emotional and intentional misrepresentation wins the day.  If they can create fear or anger in your mind, their Party “wins” your dollars and your votes which, unfortunately, are their focal points.

To combat this, I created a process by which you can test a candidate’s knowledge.  It’s called The FREEDOM Process™.   It also resolves complex issues into their key components, which is a critical element in a turnaround environment.

In The FREEDOM Process™, “FREEDOM” is an acronym in which:

F stands for Foreign Policy, including but not limited to foreign aid, international trade, diplomatic relations, treaties, interaction with the U.N., N.A.T.O., etc.

R stands for Resource Policy, including but not limited to energy, environmental issues, natural resources, other assets, etc.

E stands for Economic Policy, including but not limited to jobs, economic expansion, debt management, the money supply, etc.

E stands for Education Policy, including but not limited to primary, secondary, trade, and higher education content and assistance, etc.

D stands for Defense Policy, including but not limited to proactive and reactive defense capabilities against foreign and domestic threats, base alignment, foreign occupation, etc.

O stands for Operations Policy, including but not limited to operating efficiencies, regulatory issues, immigration, human resource issues, etc.

M stands for Medical Policy including but not limited to health care costs, Medicare, Medicaid, quality of life issues (including Social Security), etc.

Without belaboring the point, every policy decision impacts one or more additional policy areas.  If a candidate cannot “connect the dots,” it is because he or she doesn’t have a fundamental enough understanding of the issue to do so.

Our country would be better served by core policy statements that offered clear direction rather than self-serving sound bites that are crafted to “spin” public sentiment.  The problem for Party candidates lies within the fact that this would not allow them to vacillate on issues for their own self-interests.  It would also require a demonstration of true leadership skills.

The FREEDOM Process™ is a litmus test of a candidate’s breadth and depth of knowledge.  It provides an amazingly quick way to ferret out whether candidates have only been prepared on speaking points by their staff or whether they have a fundamental knowledge of every core subject and the ability to discern how each decision can be leveraged to the advantage of the American people.

It is not about who has the best sound bites, and it’s not about who has the best “spin.”  It’s about who has the best solutions.

To allow you to become more familiar with The FREEDOM Process™, I will use it in future articles to present solutions to our Nation’s most pressing issues.  The disarray of our current foreign policy, along with the volatility in Afghanistan precipitated by the recent accidental burning of the Qurans as well as the shooting incident involving 16 civilians, makes that a logical starting point.  As a result, my next article will discuss our foreign policy as it pertains to Afghanistan and how an application of The FREEDOM Process™ can bring clarity and logic to it.

Until then, I hope you will “cast your vote” to apply the First Amendment as it was intended.  Please “support” me on Americans Elect.  It will send a message that every Presidential candidate deserves the right to be heard rather than just those who can afford to spend tens of millions of dollars to buy media coverage.


T.J. O’Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States and the first nominee of the Whig Party in over 150 years.

This article first appeared in T.J. O’Hara’s recurring column, A President for the People, in the Communities section of The Washington Times.