The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.



) -- Washington is dysfunctional because it's teeming with unqualified political leaders. It's not the voters' fault. Without job specifications that voters can cross-check, politicians are being selected based on some type of appeal. Maybe it's stated positions, records, party, alma mater or something else appealing.

If instead voters evaluated hard skills (knowledge skills) and soft skills (behavioral skills), they would elect leaders who can fix the economy and keep it healthy. Here's a quick list of what to look for in next year's presidential elections.

Hard Skills


Political leaders need to know:

The costs and benefits of taxes. If a candidate thinks that taxes are the solution to government excess, wonder if they also think that scotch is a cure for alcoholism.

The costs and benefits of regulations. If a candidate talks about regulations to solve a problem, be suspicious. They may be punishing the nation for a few bad apples, or trying to legislate a personal point of view.

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How the public and private sectors complement one another to maximize wealth creation. Candidates that talk about punishing business are as dangerous as employees sabotaging their employers.

The importance of the private and public sectors sticking to their respective knitting. When candidates talk about government solutions to private sector problems, think Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The limits of the


and monetary policy. If a candidate thinks the Fed has all the answers they are literally passing the buck.


How credits and debits are created and the implications of debits exceeding credits. The simple rule is forget the big spender candidates, they only know how to operate in the red.

International Trade/Relations.

If a candidate is rallying against international trade as a job stealer, they have probably bought a Brooklyn Bridge or two.

They also need to know a few essentials of American history including, the roles played by democracy, capitalism, the military and American culture in the nation's success.

Knowledge of political, economic and social systems around the world is key. If a candidate thinks the EU is the United States of Europe, place an X through their name. If a candidate thinks democratic elections are a panacea to poverty and repression, they probably also believe in the tooth fairy.


Comprehends how security threats changed after the Cold War and that U.S. military firepower is nearly as great as the rest of the world's combined.

Soft Skills

Collaborative and Motivational.

Divisive bridge-burners are out. The buck stops here. No finger pointers. Forget anyone who doesn't inspire hope or puts you to sleep.

Strategic Thinker.

Strategic thinkers who know that strategies are plans that do not lose -- not short term or long term. My way or the highway, robbing Peter to pay Paul types, and others who seek short-term gains at the expense of long-term pain should find another profession.

They also think before speaking and don't get frazzled off script. No talking heads.

Out are candidates with initiatives du jour, solutions for every constituency and anyone that forgets it's the economy stupid.

Acst With Integrity

Forget candidates that read cliff notes or talk from both sides of their mouth. Seek candidates who talk about getting more from less. Forget candidates who talk about creating work. There are already too many people involved in analyzing ditches.

Role models 7x24, 365 days a year. Eliminate candidates that think behaviors after 5 pm don't count.

Eliminate candidates aligned with special interests. Their decision process is corrupt.


Candidates must be pre-equipped with hard and soft skills... and tested. Washington is no place for rookies.

No doubt it's a demanding list, but so is running the country. The nation needs very smart, midnight-oil burning qualified people. If candidates meet these qualifications the nation can't lose. This is because they will not mess with American democracy, capitalism and individualism. These are the foundations that have enabled this nation -- with all its dysfunction in Washington -- to still be a force to reckon with. Imagine what it could be like with qualified leaders in Washington.