A message from the future president of the United States
James M. Berklan
Last week in this space, I solved our nation's problems, and long-term care's, all in one fell swoop.
Since then, there have been more embarrassing debates among bickering candidates for president, making my nomination of admired long-term care executive Larry Minnix look all the more genius.
Luckily for us, the grateful candidate-in-waiting wrote me soon after last week's piece appeared. It only made his selection stronger. Just take a look at his platform, which he says he could announce from his new front porch in Atlanta. His wife, Kathleen, would order banners and send “Hold the date!” notices soon, he says.
With healthy doses of service, common sense and the creation of clever new programs, here's the winning formula from Minnix, the recently retired president and CEO of LeadingAge.
In his own words, his platform would:
• Repeal and replace OBRA '87! It is out of date, punitive to good people and misleading to the public.
• Create a "Young and Old Alike!" new initiative that requires high school grads and new Social Security recipients (who are able) to team up to volunteer for one year in nursing homes, VA centers, Meals On Wheels, crisis centers, tutoring programs to render public service together before they draw scholarships or public pensions. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) would be in charge — just like Sargent Shriver when he started the Peace Corps.
• Create "Finish the Race." Any college student who achieves the first two years of college or specialty school with good grades can finish the last two years on the taxpayer — IF the student gives two years of public service (volunteer or military).
• Revive The CLASS Act! We need a way to plan for long-term care.
• Replace HUD with "The Department of Mama's House," which would be charged with finding the money to ensure every low-income senior — especially women — has a good place to call home!
• Implement "Up with Downs," a program where every community has a job and social life for everyone with a developmental disability.
• Initiate "Wednesday Night Supper" on the White House lawn every week for leaders of all faiths. The WH would provide the fried chicken, biscuits, red-eye gravy, tater salad and sweet tea. Everybody would bring his or her own covered dish of heritage. The object would be to create peace in the Middle East based on the well-known, tried-and-true theory that food is love.
The theme song would be "Shall We Gather at the River" and we'd end with a bonfire on the south lawn where we'd join hands and sing "Kumbaya" 'til the shootin' stops.
• Institute the "Great Wall" project. Every city, town and community has a great wall where everyone can express their hopes and dreams. A scribe would record these every week and make Congress and state Legislatures read them out loud before each of their sessions to inform their work.
• Mandate members of Congress participate in the "REAL WORLD" program as part of their orientation: Spend one week in a service organization like the "Young and Old Alike" program above, with a one-week refresher annually. Their staffs must join them, along with any administration official in and the Health and Human Services or education bureaucracy.
• Include a PR campaign that denounces any "Stump Trump" or "Pillory Hillary" or "Bruze Cruz" activities … Life is too short and our problems are too big for such nonsense.
• Create a new Department of Congressional Head Knocking authorized to kick butt and call names of members of Congress who would rather fight than help.
• I'd invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit my 90-year-old cousin Bubba in Kennesaw, GA, to have lunch at Daddy's Country Kitchen on "all-you-can-eat-chicken and dumplins and peach cobbler day" so Bubba can set Vlad straight on a few things. Vlad would call Bubba thereafter for frequent advice. The world would be a safer place ...
... and, finally, since the current candidates are interested in the size of each others' hands, how much perspiring each other does, and what each other does with their money, my wife will hold a news conference where she will offer the following disclosures:
" My husband Larry's hands are big enough to do the job. He can tell stories — he calls them parables — I don't know how he gets away with them. I have always thought him to be a sanctified snake oil salesman. We would welcome a volunteer each week to balance our checkbook and report it in all the papers. And, since we have been married for more than 46 years, I can attest that he sweats less than any fat guy I've ever danced with!"
As Larry notes, there is a campaign slogan (or two or three or …) in there someplace. If you think of any, please include them in the comments below.
And then get ready to jump on the bandwagon — something says it's going to get crowded.
James M. Berklan is McKnight's Editor. Follow him @JimBerklan.