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Episode 245: Presidential Playbook 2020: 16 Nonpartisan Solutions to Save America, with John Burke

by Scott Jones
October 13th 2020
My guest is John Burke. His newest book is Presidential Playbook 2020: 16 Nonpartisan Solutions to Save America. ( More
Welcome to give and take. It's a podcast where yours truly. Scott Jones talks with artists, activists, authors, theologians, philosophers, scholars, political pundits and a host of others about their world, their work and the lens to which they experienced life. I engage my guests in a conversation that's free flowing, entertaining, unexpected, occasionally bizarre, oftentimes enlightening and informative and, above all else, deeply human. Thanks for listening to this episode of Give and Take. My guest is John Burke. John began working in the Warehouse of Trek Bicycle, founded by his father in 1984 and has held a variety of positions before becoming president of the company in 1997. Under John's leadership, Trek has become a global business on one of the world's most popular bicycle brands. John also has considered running for president, and in anticipation

of that possibility, wrote a book, Presidential Playbook. 2020 16 Nonpartisan Solutions to Save America. It's a fantastic book, and we had a great conversation about it, really apropo for election season. I hope you enjoy the conversation is much as I did. I give you John Burke. John. Welcome to the podcast, Scott. Thanks for having me. Oh, it's a pleasure. You have written a book called Playbook 20 Presidential Playbook 2020 16. Nonpartisan Solutions to Save America. Now here's the thing. I think a lot of people, or at least a slither of people in the country at some point have daydreamed about becoming president or thought they could become president. You and people outside of the political process, people that air, you know, in in private life for university professors, you actually wrote a book that laid out your whole agenda and decided not to run. Is that Ah, heartbreaking thing when you look at this thing and you're like, Oh, my gosh, what if this was my contract

with America? I mean, is it I mean, because it's a fantastic book as a reader, but I'm wondering, as the author, you're thinking I had this goal in mind of this kind of Howard Schultz or sort of independent kind of business, pragmatic presidency. And is it a bummer that you you didn't run, You know, um, I'll tell you, the way I look at it is my son graduated from college. I don't know, maybe 10 years ago, and I went to the graduation. And David McCullough, the great American historian, was the speaker, and he looked out over the graduates at the end. And he said at some point, do something for your country and I thought about that on my ride home and I thought, What could I do for my country? And I have some really opinions that our government and our leaders air falling short of the legacy that we've been given and that we're not handing a better country off to our Children. And so I figured I'd write a book and I wrote a book in 20 came out in 2016. It was called 12 Simple Solutions to Save America, and

the election of 2016 came and it went. And I thought, Here we go again. No. One with a plan to run the country. It's just political theater, and what this country really needs is progress on the biggest issues of the day. So I said, Listen, I'm going to write a book, and if nobody competent, if nobody competent, runs for the presidency and has a plan, I'll do it. It's not my first choice. I love running the bike company, but If nobody else is gonna have a plan for our country, then I'll do it. And so I wrote the book as if I was going to run for president, and I kept that option open. And if I was going to run, I would give people my book and I would say This is my plan And I think that's one of the biggest problems that we have as a country is we have all these people running for president. Nobody ever has a plan, So I was going to fix that. Aren't you banking a lot, though, on the initiative of the American voter to actually show up and pay attention? I mean to give somebody a book. I mean, people spend all day distilling policy

ideas and political strategies into tweets and slogans. E. I mean, were you looking for the nerd bicycle riding vote or what? Like how many people would think would read the book? Well, you know, here's the thing is that that's what everybody told me. They said people don't care about the issues. Nobody's gonna read it. Nobody cares. And I thought, I'm an optimist. I actually p I actually think people do care. I think people care about the health care system, and I think people do care about the environment. And I think people do care about our foreign policy because it affects them every single day. But I don't think any presidential candidate has treated the voters like adults. I think they all treat him like kids and that za circus. And maybe if somebody stood up and said Time out If we want to be a great nation, we actually have to discuss these challenges that we have and we need tohave a simple, clear plan. And people wonder why There's so much

friction in this country, and I really believe that the majority of it is because people don't know what they're talking about. They don't know the fax, and so we devolved into this tribal warfare when neither side really knows what they're talking about. It's really sad. As I was reading the book, I called several friends on, and I said, This is a really exciting book, like, I want to tell you about it because I thought, I love your policy prescriptions and I think you they're not. They're simple, but not shallow. Uh, But you you claim early in the book that you're running as an independent and you talk about the problem with the two party system. And you know how. The 2019 Gallup poll shows that 20% 26% of Americans identified themselves as Republicans, 29% Democrats and 43% is independent. But newer polling has found out that really, that 43% are kind of fall independence. Like they say, they're independent. But generally they're pretty predictable voters in one party or the other, right? And so So there's a

lot of people say they're independent, But if you look at their voting record, they're generally independent, that vote Republican or independent, that vote Democrat. So I mean that. I mean, that's one of the things that is I was reading, and I want to get into more of the specific policy prescriptions because they're fascinating and really well articulated and thought through. But one of my things is I was being is Is this just, um, uh, quixotic? I mean, just don Kyoto tipping at windmills, thinking that that an independent like is for as much entrenchment as the two party system has right, which even on getting on ballots and things like that, Like, I mean, how does an independent mount a serious challenge in contemporary America? Well, I think I think all the points you bring up our fair in their their correct. The only challenge I would have to that is I don't think we have had an independent candidate or any candidate run for the presidency in recent memory with an actual plan. And that was my hope is that I would go out and I would run with an actual plan

. And I wasn't going to say that I was gonna win. I would say if I won, I could do the job. I'm certain of that. But I wasn't certain that I could win. I knew it would be an uphill fight, But if I lost and there was a high probability that I would lose, I believe that I would have educated Ah, lot of Americans along the way, and the country would have been better off for it. So do you think, like, just even? I mean, I look at Bernie Sanders right? Like Bernie Sanders guy. That has changed the American political conversation with Just even like with things like Medicare for all that was not something, you know, that I mean, Obama just a new election, saying that wasn't running on that. I mean, most Democrats wouldn't have run on that. And now it became a live issue. So I mean, is what you're saying is that if you could mount a campaign even if you didn't win, But we got enough attention, enough electricity. If you get some lightning in a bottle that you know, MSNBC and Fox, we're gonna have to deal with your issues. And the voters are gonna have to get exposed them. And maybe

you could move the debate in a more substantive direction. I think that's part of it is that that would happen. And I really believe that, you know, you talk about Bernie Sanders Medicare for all you know, when you ask Bernie Sanders how you're gonna pay for it, he didn't have a really good answer on that. And when you take a look at my plan for America, it's not one issue. It's 16. And when you take a look at the solutions, all the solutions are simple practical solutions. The difference with my solutions is there's a lot of sacrifice involved. And if you take a look at building a great company or building a great sports team, we're building a great nonprofit. They all require hard work and sacrifice, and what our political leaders have told the citizens is vote for me because you won't have to do anything and there will be no sacrifice involved. In fact, I will cut your taxes and I will expect nothing of you. And together we're gonna build a great country nonsense. That's not the way it works. It's

the way it works is that if you want to build something great, you need to take on challenges. And typically, if the challenges involved, it requires hard work, sacrifice and effort. And I think that's what we've gotten away from in this country, and I think the beauty of my book is it's not one issue. There's 16 and they're not all leaning to the left or leaning to the right. There's some issues where where people would say Oh, your way to the left and there's some issues that people would say your way to the right, but I would challenge anyone on any one of those 16 issues. Yeah, I think. What s so? I mean, I could just pick out again If you ran. I would I would come join your campaign because I love the book. But eso one of things I think that struck me as really compelling. As you say, The greatest nuclear threat today is not the Russians but terrorists. Right? And I thought this for years that it's the Russians are gonna nuke us. We're not going to nuke them. We're not going to new China. China is not gonna nuke us. What's gonna happen is a dirty bomb goes off in

a nuclear suitcase bomb in New York or L A. And then we lose our democracy. Right? Because if people choose between security and liberty, they always choose security. And we just become a sort of. That to me is the non state actors are the big threats. And you talk about things like reducing the nuclear stockpile from, like, 4000 to 300. And you talk about really aggressive anti proliferation. Yeah, policies, which I mean again. I've just never heard anything like this in a presidential debate where somebody says Hey, let's let's decrease our nuclear stockpile and increase the kind of certain kind of war on terror not a kind of just blind, You know, we're gonna drop drone bombs everywhere, but more like like, let's get a handle on on proliferation of nuclear material because that's the real threat, right? It's not the silos in Russia or China. It's It's the non state actors, right? Well, im e, I think, First of all, I think it's a huge issue is the amount of nuclear weapons that are all over the world. And, you know, there's somebody

who wrote a theory, and the theory said is that all weapons get used. You know, the Wright brothers thought that the airplane was gonna put an end to wars because nobody would ever use airplanes for for war or the guy who came up with Thesis UB Machine gun thought it would make war obsolete because nobody would be as inhumane to use that against another person. And so weapons in the end always end up getting used. And if you don't think so, you're you're nuts. And so I take a look at nuclear weapons in our country over the next 10 years were planning on spending 494 billion dollars to upgrade our nuclear arsenal. Now, if I put that to a vote, I don't think he'd get many people who would sign up for that. And so I say, You know what the one of the greatest threats we have is a terrorist gets a hold of nuclear weapons or there's an accident. There have been numerous nuclear accidents over the years, and I detail it in the book. And if you don't think that there could be a nuclear accident, you probably didn't think there would be a global pandemic that could bring the economy of the United

States to its knees. And these are the kind of issues that we don't talk about in presidential campaigns. Do you have the same anxiety about nuclear power plants as you do about weapons? No, I have a greater anxiety about nuclear weapons way greater anxiety because I had a guest on the podcast a couple years ago. He was It was a liberal guy that was a man of the left international affairs expert and was passion about climate change and going into the research he was anti nuclear power. And at the end of the research, he was pro nuclear power because he looked at, like France and Sweden, like Sweden, basically a zero carbon footprint. And they do it with nuclear and renewables. Right? And and nuclear energy is a lot safer these days, then used to be, I mean, so you're also a guy that is passionate about climate change. I mean, you kind of you. And this is the issue of issues, right? Because if we don't have a plan, it doesn't matter. One of the issues that matter, Matt's like Okay, okay, let's talk about climate change. Just just for for a minute

. And I take away climate change. And to me, the the statistic that just jumps out is in the last 120 years, the temperature on our planet, the only planet we have is up two degrees. And if you're in Wisconsin, you're like I wish it was five. Joke. Two degrees doesn't sound like a lot if your temperature is 98.6. If I put your temperature up to 100 100.6. How do you feel? You're sick. Our planet is two degrees warmer and it's sick. And if you take a look at the trend line right now, you have scientists saying 100 years from now it could increase another six degrees. The human race is done at plus six degrees. I mean, I remember Admiral Mullen, who is the chair of the Joint Chiefs for well under Obama. In a congressional hearing, they asked him what's the biggest threat to national security? And he said, Climate change. And he says, Because like you know, you'll have ice caps melting, you'll have more severe weather, you'll have more refugees, you have more terrorists floating

in with refugees, just like the chaos that that's being caused from increased climate fluctuation and change and warming of the earth. He's like, That's our biggest national security threat It is. And let me explain this to you this way. If you take a look at Cove in 19, there's a great analogy of if you take a boiling pot of water and you put a frog in the boiling pot of water. The frog immediately identifies that he could die and he jumps out, and that's where society is today with covert 19 they see it as a boiling pot of water, and so we're all trying to do something about it immediately. If you take a look at climate change, it's like the boiling pot of water that starts out of room temperature. You put the frog in and you crank it up one degree a minute, and the frog assimilates to the to the temperature. He gets used to the temperature and he just sits in there and he boils to death. He doesn't move, and that's what's happening to us. We keep cranking the temperature up and okay, there's forest fires in California, and there were 3 500 year floods in Houston and a five

year span, and Australia was on fire for three months last year. And there's all this stuff happening, and we're just keep ticking it up one degree at a time, and we don't have leadership in this country who's saying Time out. We've got a problem and we go on. We talk to the people. There are solutions to this that every single challenge this country has. There is a solution that is right there, and it involves sacrifice, hard work, and when you put that in. You can build an amazing country. We could be at one point in time. We were the leaders of the free world, not just based on military might but based on the competency of our government and based on the will of our citizens. And it's my belief that because of a lack of leadership, we have lost that, and we need to get that back for our own good and for the good of the rest of the world. You have all needs a leader. You have a really good

I'm pretty impressed with your health care plan. So basically, you did what a lot of people talked about in your plan. In a very simple way. I mean, basically, people have talked about a public option where we kind of have a kind of you called Medicare to point out. We're basically you have a choice. Is a citizen between keeping private insurance or or going on Medicare to point out and you have two tracks. If you're relatively healthy and both are inexpensive, I mean I mean, if you're unhealthy, you're still saving money over the over your average private insurance company. But you have a, uh the thing about the plan that I appreciate is it's a pretty simple and elegant plan as opposed to you know, you point you point out in the book that I think there's three different medical coding classifications for getting bit by a parrot under Obama care. I mean, eso you're kind of you're offering what most liberals have been asking for, uh, like a competitive option

of public option. And yet you're not booting pump private insurance out of the market and you're letting a kind of dynamic competition go on and and you have almost a dynamic kind of public policy experiment. Your proposal? Yeah. And you know, one of the things that I think is amazing is people say, Oh, you can't do that because you're gonna socialized medicine. We're gonna become a socialist country. It's like there is 130 million people today on Medicare and Medicaid, that social, that's socialized medicine. And to me, I just take a look at what? Let's just look at the basic facts. We spend the most money in the world on our health care. Almost twice as much of GDP is any other country in the world and we get the worst results year in and year out. We are dead last. Okay, so it would be like the sports team. Let's take the Milwaukee Bucks in the MBA and we're all the owners because we we own the team and the Bucks outspend every other MBA team 2 to 1 for 20 years, and every year

they get dead last and they make no changes. That's the United States with health care. And my point is you've got to change the game and we let these companies continue to make political donations to politicians to keep the same crooked game the same, and everybody loses. And I come up with a really simple plan to significantly increase the health of the American people and to slash the cost and to provide health care for everyone. It's interesting. It's interesting because you point something out that makes sense to everybody, right? Oh, my gosh, we spend all this money on and we get bad results. We want to spend a lot of money and get good results. But you point out in your campaign finance reform chapter that Congress knows if you spend a lot of money. You get good results, right? Because like, I think it's 82% of the people that win just win because they spend the most money like like like like, more than three or four times. It doesn't matter what party you're in if you if you spend the most money in the campaign you're

gonna win e mean Trump is the rare is one of the rare exceptions to this, right, because Hillary outspend him. And probably if she'd had a better if she had had better campaign strategist and was more judicious with that money, she might have one, but she that's the rare example. And most of the time, if you've got the war chest, you win the election, you win the election. But then But the worst part is, once you're elected, you have to pay all those people back. Yeah, so if you're in some of these Senate races, you have a U. S Senate seat. They're selling for 60 $80 million apiece. So your first day in office, the healthcare company calls up and says, Listen, Tommy, I need you to do this and this and this is a person who donate a million dollars to their political action committee. They get a phone call back right away, and they're going to do it. You people who are making the policy for this country on health care in their biggest supporters, air the insurance companies. Is that What is that? Is that Eisenhower? Somebody once, said Eisenhower. They said, You know, that's a tough job being president. How do you How do you make decisions? He goes, You know, it's really

not that hard because I asked myself one simple question. What's in the best interest of the American people and that track? We have something called the Eisenhower Rule. If you ever kind of wondering what the what the right call is what's in the best long term interest of the bicycle company and make that decision. There was not do that with health care. There is a great line and show The West Wing Um or or Alan. Alan Alda, who is running for president, is the Republican senator um there, his campaign person says. Well, don't irritate the drug lobby too much, and he says, Look, if you can't take their money, eat their food and drink their booze and then vote against them. You don't belong in this business on there. There's something to that. But I mean, but realistically, right? I mean, the point you make is the center of gravity. The pull is so strong. And so if you want to get look, I assume most people that want to run for office the majority of people go in

with certain ideals, right? Whether you're right, left center or whatever, you have some ideals. But then to play the game right, it takes so much. It's It's like all the Democrats that complain about Republican takes on campaign finance. Then play the game because you don't wanna bring a knife to a gunfight, right? Eso you're arguing? You have to change the fighting rules so it za little more like dueling muskets is supposed to m m a. Yeah, and you got you got, you need you need to change the game. And that's you know, that's what the books about is, you know, here are solutions that other people are not proposing that could significantly change the course of the country, and they don't get talked about. I mean, we've we've just witnessed what have we been at it? A year and a half? 18 months of a presidential campaign and most of the things that are in this book on major issues never discussed. Yeah, I'm curious. I mean, so as I'm reading it again, I'm reading it pretty sympathetically because I think on most of the issues I'm with you. And again, the elegance and simplicity of your solutions

on things like criminal justice and and tax reform are so compelling. But a lot of your agenda depends on things like, um, constitutional amendments, which are which require a tribal time. E. I mean, it's hard to get the American people to agree it and even cove it. If you're in a red state, like right, you tend to have cova deniers. If you're a blue state when you're in Wisconsin, right? I mean, it's interesting. Just you guys were getting slammed by it like I mean it where people have made even even a public health issue partisan. How would you? I mean, how realistically on day one, let's say you're elected president. How the heck do you get a constitutional amendment passed when again, Trump couldn't get with the Republican Congress with, you know, for two years he kind of had what Obama had, right? Like, he had both houses of the legislature and he couldn't even get his wall built right or get a full obamacare repeal. He was gonna have Mexico pay for that. Well, exactly, it could. Exactly. Exactly. But I mean

, how out? Like so. I mean, you're going to ratchet up the game to do you think, pass constitutional amendments, which air these require, like all like two thirds of the states and then and then, um uh, majorities in Congress. Wait, don't Constitutional amendments requires super majorities in Congress as well. It requires a lot. It za serious thing to do. And, you know, if you take a look, I think you know, a couple of the points in the book require require a constitutional amendment. Term limits would require a constitutional amendment, but 95% of the book, you don't need a constitutional amendment. And I think one of the biggest problems we have is campaigns that air filled with money and people talk about nothing so we don't take on any of the serious issues, and then people get elected And what did they get elected on? They didn't have a plan. I mean, if you really get into what, what plan does Donald Trump have for the second term? Do you know what his plan is? It's to make this place the most beautiful, powerful country. It's gonna be so

beautiful. We're gonna be tired of winning. I've never seen a person that uses more adverbs than Donald Trump. I'm like this man. This man is the most powerful man in the world. He is the president of the United States, and he has no plan. And he's running against Joe Biden, and I'm fairly well educated. I read quite a bit, and I really can't tell you what Joe Biden's priorities will be. As president, I can't tell you I can tell you all the problems he sees with Donald Trump and why Donald Trump's not qualified. And I can tell you that Donald Trump will tell me that Joe's sleepy. That's what kind of a campaign we're having in America, and I believe that there is an opportunity to rise above that and actually have an adult conversation with the American people on what we need to do together to move the country forward. Yeah, I think that zoo and no one's ever tried It's

a point well made. I mean, I think like I look at Biden and, uh, who I'm sympathetic to. And I was looking a friend of mine, asking about his fracking policy, and I was saying, Well, it's kind of like I mean, he's like, Well, I'm not gonna have new fracking land grants, but we'll have fracking will. Still that fracking happened And, well, this I mean just because Because my friends were asking me where is he had with the green New Deal. They were actually critical of Biden and said, Well, I mean, he secretly said, I'm not for the green New deal for the Biden plan, but then when you ask him about specifics, it gets hard for him to say what he's gonna do specifically on the environment. And now I mean, it's clear that he will take a different approach to most Republicans, like in general, Republicans, Republicans. They're gonna be anti regulation. They're going to kind of have the EPA loosened restrictions. But there's not a clear like, and the Democrats are gonna promise we're not going to do that. But you're right, there's not. It's on The specifics put out there. Know that nobody and people don't treat Americans like

adults. And who is the guy who came up with the national parks? There's a Republican Roosevelt. And who is the guy who founded the EPA? The environmental protection? It was Richard Nixon, a Republican, a good friend of mine. David Color read my book and he goes, You know, I'm a lifelong Republican. I read your book and I agree with every single point in there. He goes, If you get a group of smart people in a room and you lay out all the fax 90% of time, they'll come to the same conclusion. But we have all this money in politics, and people are more interested in who gets elected. Then they are in moving the country forward and doing the people's work. And how do you How do you change that narrow change the game? Because, I mean, I think onto two levels a like let's just take money in politics. The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of citizens united and and you know we have this kind of like eso again, we would need a constitutional amendment, which again is incredibly difficult to get. So then, like just on that

issue, like take two issues like on your first commitment to like, because I agree with you if you got rid of if you reformed money in politics, it's the way to reform all the other issues, right? I mean, because you have a balanced playing field in special interests would be hobbled and you could actually get the bake on. But the second thing is the tribalism where people, I mean people. I think these days let their political identity, their political ideology, does their identity work right, so their identity isn't as much in being a parent or a Christian or a Jew or a volunteer where friend it's in, you know, a Republican or Democrat. So many people are so tribal. So how do you get the Cultural Revolution? Because you can't legislate that right? You you'd have to get people to get beyond their tribe and actually like, have politics not be a zero sum game. I think there's a I think there's a couple of ways to do it. I think one of the ways. There's a lot of things in the book that you can. I agree with you. If you get money out of politics, you're going to solve a

lot of other problems. It's a hard one, but that could be done. But nobody is out there. I don't know if you if you went through the presidential campaign that just last a year and a half, how much discussion did you hear about getting money out of politics? You're not a lot, by the way, there's a There's a great quote in your book. You're quoting Robert McChesney at the University of Illinois, and I had never realized this. Is it just I mean, this is? I mean, there's so much gold in this book, Uh, you quote him saying the number one lobby that opposes campaign finance reform. The United States is the National Association of Broadcast because because because ABC News or NBC or MSNBC or CNN or Fox, they love it because it brings money in the ad coffers, right? I think in the UK I think this is right in the UK elections last, like, six weeks and television ads are illegal here. You go. I mean, it's like all this stuff could be changed. Don't all this money. We're not getting better candidates for the more money we spend, we're getting worse candidates

. So where is the leadership to stand up and say this needs to end? Somebody needs toe, have an adult conversation with the American people. That's what this book is. And I really believe that, you know, whoever the president of the next president United States is, should have that conversation with the American people, and they should proposal laws. And maybe the law doesn't pass. But it's a start, and you keep pounding away and you keep pounding away and you start talking to people and then all of a sudden it happens. But what are I mean? I wonder I mean the challenge, I think, right, Like in a difference, I think, between the private sector and the public sector, right? Like if you've been incredibly successful in the private sector with trek bikes, I mean, I mean over a billion dollars in revenues. I mean, this is a world class company by any standards, but my guess is if you can sell your board and you can see everybody that that this idea is gonna make money, right? And that this, by like, like, this direction is gonna profit the company. I mean, they're gonna go with it. I mean, it's just convincing them that's going to put more

money in the black and not gonna take us in the red. But I feel like when you're in government, you have whole swaths of people that are like, Well, I don't care because my constituents, I've got to get re elected. And even though that might be good for, for instance, it Z I mean, one of the things that fascinates me is ethanol policy, right? Ethanol is the worst environmental policy, right? If Iowa didn't go first, if the Iowa caucuses weren't first and every senator you know, didn't think, well, maybe I'll run for president someday. I can't be against ethanol because that's the big Corn state, right? So like, I mean again, any reasonable person, any reasonable person if you put ethanol policy on the table with a 20 minute intelligent presentation will realize it's bad for the environment. It's not great for the country, but because Iowa goes first and we have this like establishment system. Well, we're just stuck with ethanol policy, and I wonder, like, how many roadblocks are there like that in the country? Were sensible solutions just die on the vine because of the way different political interest groups were? There's quite a few. But

if you if you start hacking away and you start taking them one by one, and if you could get some sensible policy and health care, then maybe that would get you some sensible policy on the military budget. And then maybe that could get you to some sensible policy with government unions. And that could lead to some sensible policy with the amount of people that we have locked up in prison. There's the beauty of where we are with America right now is we have so many challenges. I mean, it's a target rich environment. Somebody is going to be a hero here. Do you think if you were to run, I mean, let's say, even if you let's say you not even running, let's see, you became president with a strategy to be pizza. Just go around and do like a zillion town halls. I mean, just make the media cover conversations with normal people, unscripted conversations with normal people because it seems like that's the only hope that if you could get normal Americans like that, we're not radically ideological. Or

maybe maybe they are because people were getting more ideological. But they're, but they're still critical thinkers. If you could just go sit down in diners in church fellowship halls in the Elks, lodges in the high school gymnasiums across the country like like instead of what Trump's doing and having rallies. If you could run around and just listen to people's stories and and dialogue about your solutions, do you think that would break the logjam? I think that would help. You know, I have in my office, I have two massive white boards, and I used to think I was on, and I really need white boards because I love to listen to people. I'll outline what the problem is or what challenge we're facing, and then I'll get up, put the smartest people in the room, and then I want everybody's opinion and I write it up on the board, and it's a way of me putting all the cards out on the table like here all the ideas. It's also way for. It does get into my head, and it's a way for me to let people know I'm listening to you. I care. And if I was the president, United States and I wanted

to get these 16 things done, I think you're absolutely right. I would go town to town with a big white board and a bunch of markers, and I would lay out the problem and I would get everybody's input and we'd work through it. And I think that's one of the ways you could really highlight. The biggest challenge that we need that we that we have here is toe educate the voters, and what our current candidates they're doing is they're dumbing them down. We're going the opposite direction. So you've written a pretty what I what I think is a pretty good book. And again, it's something that, like I'm pretty excited to talk with friends about. I mean, why not run for office? Why not run for governor or or like state senator or something so that you could you'd have a platform in public life to talk about? These is to go white board with people, you know, because right now I have, um, the greatest job in the world and I love this has been my life's work. I've worked

that trek for 37 years. We've got an amazing team here. We've done some great things. We got a lot of work to dio the Onley job that I would do was would be would be the president. That's the only job that would interest May. And those are the issues that interest may state issues. Not for me, state Senator. Not for me. The issues that interest me are the big issues. The big monster issues that everybody throws in the closet. I wanna open that door up. I want to trot out the monsters and I want to take care of them. If I was gonna run for anything, I'd run for the presidency. So what about 2024? If if If we get through the next four years and if nobody has a plan, then I'll run in 2024 I'm not gonna ask anyone. I'm just going to do it. But I mean, it's interesting, because I I think someone like Joe Biden, I think who's kind of on the modern and the Democratic Party. A lot of these issues, a lot of the way you framed the issues wouldn't

seem to be opposed to because he's a guy like you that believes in the free market, right? I mean, he's e I mean, the Obama administration, you know, we create a lot of jobs. There were there were you know, the stock market went up. I mean, they weren't these kind of like sometimes the right frames them like they were. They would shake Herrera communist. I mean, they were pretty e You can't be a Chacarita communist If Wall Street likes you that much, right? Like I mean, what about just like, getting I mean, because you've got great ideas here, and and one of things that's interesting to me about your book is not only do I find the idea's compelling, you communicate them well, like your Medicare, your Medicaid care 2.0, chart is a thing of beauty. It's so simple. It's so basic. Um, like, why not? Do you have plans to, like, try to influence policy like, let's say, Biden winds? Would you Do you have connections where you could be like, Hey, what if we kind of nudged the public conversation in this direction? So you know, one of things I do want to say is the book was written to be simple

. And if you go back one of one of the great business people the last 100 years with Steve Jobs and somebody asked him, How do you How do you explain all of Apple's success? And he goes one word. Simplicity. Everything we've done here, it apple from product to marketing to the way we run. The business is all based on simplicity, and that's the way that's the way I work a track. And that's the way I wrote. The book is that's the kind of stuff you can get done is simplicity, and we do the exact opposite, and government is we do we make everything complicated, but I think when you talk about Joe Biden, you know if if Joe Biden wins, he's gonna have an amazing opportunity. So put his stamp on the future of this country, or he's going to just kick the can down the road. And, you know, Donald Trump will have the same he'll have if he wins, he's gonna have the same thing. He's gonna have an amazing opportunity or he's going to kick the can down the road again and we'll find out. But you know, one of the things I've tried to do

with the book I've sent out, you know, handwritten notes to over 1000 people around the country, including Joe Biden and Donald Trump. You know, I'll continue to send, send the book out to people, and, you know, hopefully somebody will read it and you never know who's going to read it, and you never know where it's going to make a difference who has responded. People responded to those notes. So I get a cup. I get a couple I get a couple of notes in. But like who? Like a prominent person that most listeners would know that responded in game. Think of I think a funny one is, uh, the golfer Gary Player. Oh wow. And so I put in, I put in the book. Gary Player from South Africa is one. You know, the Masters, a couple of famous golfer, and he's like 85 he looks like he's 45 he's just a health and fitness nut. And he wrote this article where he just ranted about America being fat, overweight, Um, just eating ourselves to death. And he's right. And I put that in there and

I got a note back. Um, I knew somebody who knew Gary Player, so I sent in the book and he actually loved it. But, you know, whoever reads the book, it's a lot out of the book. So it's funny because the the cast from The West Wing is doing a re union like on HBO of one act redoing an episode on stage like a play call. And they were on, They were on Stephen Colbert, several the cast and they talked about Oh, shoot. Who is it? Richard Schiff actually played Toby Ziegler talked about one time. He got a letter, they would get all these letters from people. And he said One time I got a letter after our Social Security episode. I loved your episode. Uh, but here's all the reasons your Social Security plan wouldn't work. And it was signed Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton s eso. I hope you get some of those letters, but I mean, so what's next for you and and in kind of you've written the book. You're doing your life's work. I mean, do

you Are you supporting a candidate this time around? Are there Are there local candidates you're excited about? I mean, who are you voting for? Well, you know, I'm I'm taking a look at that. And, uh, you know, I like to focus on the issues here and not get off into that. But all right, I put out a vlog every couple of weeks, and I think I'll write one on that coming up here. But, I mean, you got I mean, look, I mean, realistically e mean, you're I think you'd get a better hearing. Well, maybe not that I'm thinking. I mean, my initial thought is you get a better hearing among Democrats. At least moderate to center left Democrats, then. I mean, there just aren't that many moderate Republicans left, right? I mean, I think that, you know, I'll tell you, I sent my My brother in Law's father is a huge trumpster, and he got this book and he read the book three times. Wow. Loved the book. Wow. Anybody who reads that book really enjoys

the book. It gets them out of their tribe and it gives them the fax. For every one of the 16 challenges I started out with. Here are the fax, and then here the solutions. I wanna make sure everybody understands the fax. And I didn't cherry pick the facts. I just laid it all out, and I think we're underestimating. Um, I think deep down people are good and deep down people are Americans. First Party second. But I think in this tribal atmosphere, we've We've done a reversal and their arm or people who care about their parties than they do about the country. And that's the wrong spot to be it. And if you read my book, you know, would you rather have an open mind? I would, But I'm just a person. If somebody asked you a question, you go. Would you rather be an open minded person or a close minded? Personally, I think that when you ask that question that everybody thinks they're an open minded person, right? But like everybody thinks they're open minded, right? And so, with my liberal friends, I tell them I watch a lot of Fox

news like and they also and they all think they're over minded and they say, Well, why would you ever do that? I'm like, Well, because it's not my tribe And so I want to see how things like I read a lot of stuff like that's outside of my own political commitment because I wanna have a lot of regular discuss deep issues with people that deeply disagree with me because I think that that's the only way I learned. But I think there's a difference between being open minded saying, Oh, I wanna be the open minded person and actually what you do But like we're all like, self delusional right? It's like it's like when they do things well, how often you go to the gym or how often you go to church or whatever. And people answer aspirational Lee, right? So the question is, do people really want to be open minded? Or is that just the thing you say in Sunday school or at the Rotarian Club Thio toe? Act like you're a good person? You know, I think, But I think that's something that you know we have a society today that's telling people to be closed minded, be part of the tribe. Let's have a war. Hate the other guy. Yeah, it's counterproductive boots or he's

a sucker. It's like, What? What happened to the friendly neighbor? I mean, I remember what happened to cooking the apple pie and and walking over to the neighbor and saying Hello. Yeah, I remember Evan by who was a former senator of Indiana. His dad was governor of Indiana, but his dad was also senator from Indiana, who was a Democrat. And when, decades ago, I mean, this has got to be in the sixties or 50 whatever. When he when he announced that he was leaving the Senate as a Democrat to go run for governor of Indiana, he told, he said his dad told him that several Republican senators embraced him and said, If you need us to come campaign for you, let us know will come do it. And like you can't imagine that today I mean, like you. I mean that that that's unimaginable. But that's a real story, you know. Here's an interesting thing, and I was writing. I was writing a block and I wrote I wrote this. I voted for Republicans and Democrats over the years. I have great admiration for Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and Harry Truman

, George H. W. Bush and Barack Obama, Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, four Republicans and four Democrats. The party doesn't make the difference. The person does. E think we have too many people voting for parties and not enough people having an open mind Looking at the people in voting for the person. Well, I mean, I hope your your tribe increases. And let me ask you this. I'm in the market for a new bike. I don't have a bike right now, and I need one. And I'm looking for like, a fixed gear single year. Uh, or or I don't know, I'm in the city. I'm in. I'm in an urban area. It's all flat. Basically, I'm not writing on Hill. What would you recommend? I want something kind of, you know, lightweight. I don't need to shift gears very often or at all. Okay, um, I would get like, a track fx to FX three fx for something in that range. That's a great bike. Lightweight. Great bike to ride in the city. Great bike to

go on the bike trails. That's all around bike. I'm googling it right now. I'm looking on your website. Oh, this is a beautiful the FX one. I see them all thes air. Gorgeous bike. So I'll tell you what. After we finish this interview, we should work out some kind of I'll do a zillion free ads. If you guys send on FX bike, you need that affects like e. Hey, I said, John, this was really great. And I'll tell you, if you ever decided to run for president, let me know I will campaign for you. Awesome. I will be your I'm gonna put your name down. And if nobody has a plan or competency in 2024 I'll give you a call. Absolutely. Put me on that. I'll be one of the first people will go to Iowa and New Hampshire together. And, you know, go in those diners and you know, and we'll just pass the book at with e books. I'll hold the white board and pass out books and will say, Here is I'm running for president and I actually have a plan. I love it, E

I love it. Thank you for having me. Thank you so much. Pleasure is all mine. Thanks for listening to this episode of give and take. If you like what you've heard here, please do a few things for me. Go share about this episode in iTunes. Write a review. Give it a rating. Share the love and goodness or go on social media. Share a link to the episode on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram. Please pass along the love and goodness if you've experienced here. Thanks again. Thanks again for listening to this episode of give and take. And until next time, friends fare thee well.

Episode 245: Presidential Playbook 2020: 16 Nonpartisan Solutions to Save America, with John Burke
Episode 245: Presidential Playbook 2020: 16 Nonpartisan Solutions to Save America, with John Burke
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