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Memo to the President: Take a "Listening Tour" of Federal Agencies

Laurence Jarvik

Posted on January 30, 2019 16:14

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Following the end of the government shutdown, President Trump needs to take a "Listening Tour" of federal agencies to remind government employees he's in charge while giving them a chance to vent face-to-face. It would signal a change of tone in leadership, while disarming the "Resistance" and encouraging good government.

Former staffer Cliff Sims' tell-all book about his time in the Trump Administration, Team of Vipers, may have been intended to damage the President, but his observation that "you just kind of can't help but like the guy when you spend time with him" suggests a strategy for Presidential damage control after the 35-day government shutdown:

President Trump needs to take a "Listening Tour" of federal agency headquarters in Washington, as soon as possible, in order to show federal employees that he's still The Boss--especially after Congress passed a 2.6% raise.

The President has already visited headquarters at the Pentagon, CIA, State Department, HHS and FEMA (there may be others, but the press office hasn't provided a list yet). That leaves Agriculture, Commerce, DHS, Education, Energy, Interior, Labor, Justice, HUD, Transportation, Treasury, and the VA on the agenda.

A tour could show President Trump is open to hearing concerns of federal workers, and aware of the missions of his departments. He would not scold, lecture, or threaten--only listen and answer questions.

These meetings could be broadcast, much like The Apprentice, as entertaining TV, without saying: "You're fired!"

They surely would be watched closely by field offices and contractors, as well as interested members of the American public. 

I'd suggest the following format: 10 minutes of introductions, 10 minutes of remarks from the President, 30 minutes of Q & A, 10 minutes of informal conversation.

Cabinet Secretaries could decide who to invite; any staffers who boycotted or walked out would face civil service disciplinary proceedings. Any vocal or violent protesters would be removed, and immediately fired for insubordination (or transferred to Alaska if that isn't possible). 

If the President were seen speaking to an empty auditorium, that would indicate that the agency needed reorganization or abolition, due to a display of staff indifference.

My guess is that at least some employees would welcome the opportunity to talk with President Trump, maybe to ask about pay, benefits or working conditions.

Given recent success of Presidential listening sessions with the Border Patrol, President Trump might actually get valuable feedback about the workings of each agency.

Such sessions would convince federal employees that President Trump isn't an ogre, but a flesh-and-blood human being trying to do his best for the American people. And intelligent comments from federal employees might convince President Trump that he can work with government agencies to get things done, rather than just Tweet about his frustrations.

Unfortunately, due to the "Resistance," federal agencies don't currently provide a genuinely nonpartisan civil service. When the vast majority of federal employees are Democrats who undermine the President for political advantage, they enable a de facto spoils system outside Constitutional checks and balances...which undermines public confidence in American institutions.

President Trump might identify competent civil servants during his "Listening Tour," then promote them to restore confidence in the Federal government.

Such a tour would let President Trump show he's not against government, he's just for good government.

Laurence Jarvik

Posted on January 30, 2019 16:14

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