Dr. Lynn Kahn describes herself as a sort of government mechanic. Her experience stems from her undergraduate work in psychology and her doctoral work in group dynamics of peacemaking.
“Early on, I focused on group dynamics. The psychology work in group dynamics and organizational change just kind of built on each other," Dr. Kahn said in an interview for IVN.
Immediately after her doctoral work, she started her career in government as an organizational consultant with a specialty in group dynamics. For the past 12 years her work has focused on helping organizations "develop plain language, and strategic plans, that lead to large scale change, and involve lots of partners."
She has worked with the Federal Aviation Administration, the IRS, the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services in D.C., the National Partnership for Reinventing Government, and most recently as a private consultant in New York City’s Department of Probation. You can check out her active blog and resume. She is also the author of three books on the subjects of governmental reform and conflict management.
Dr. Lynn Kahn's 7-Step Plan to Fix Government
“I know how to look under the hood. I know how to see what is working and what is not working-- and most importantly, I know how to fix what is broken,” Kahn said
As president, she will evaluate the priorities, goals, and outcomes of each federal department.
“What is the role of government, what is it supposed to do, and is it producing intended outcomes?” Kahn elaborated.
After evaluation, Kahn says she will draft new missions for each federal department and hold ‘citizen summits’ to get input on priorities for government agencies.
A Citizen Summit, Kahn explained, is a public forum focused on many small, specific discussions around a topic. For instance, she says, if the discussion is policing, small discussions may be: ‘the role of police with underage drinking,’ ‘the role of police with domestic violence,’ etc.
Citizen summits will be action focused, she explained, determining short, medium, and long-term action steps to achieve goals. Kahn says that technology like college classroom ‘clickers’ used for test taking can help each participant contribute democratically to the discussion.
“A great leader has a clear vision, a strong sense of purpose, and a relevant skill set-- and I believe I have that,” Kahn explained. “I have a vision for America. We, the people, create a trusted and respected government that delivers outstanding 21st century services, and as a government that is trusted and respected, we join with other partners around the world to solve global problems-- that’s my vision. My purpose is reflected in my platform-- it would be to fix government and build peace. I have a 7-track plan to do that.”
The 21st century requires a different skill set for leaders, says Kahn.
“This is not raising a sword and leading men into bloody battle. Leadership in the 21st century requires understanding about partnerships-- how to build and work in partnerships-- how to see the world as an interconnected network of partnerships- and that's a different skill set.” - Dr. Lynn Kahn
Asked about her vision for a future with the Middle East, she had a 5 piece tool kit ready for reply, which includes military, diplomatic, economic, educational, and human aid tools. Though she has great faith in dialogue, cease fires, and peace talks, she articulates, “I am not a pacifist. We have to be strong to build peace. You can’t sweet talk a bully...Some have crossed a dark line and are lost to us.”
Kahn says her five operating tools will drive her foreign policy.
“A policy of aggression does not work and has been a disaster,” she added. Kahn strongly supports the Iran deal.
Early in August, Kahn began her 100-day road campaign to talk to advisers and strategists. A group of business leaders from Nevada have sought her out as a potential candidate who can understand and transform government agencies. Veterans and independent groups have also contacted her for appearances and meetings. Kahn says she is actively seeking agents of change and great facilitators. She will need thousands to help engage citizens, she says.
Early in 2016 she will start to collect signatures in each state to get on the presidential ballot. It is hard, she remarked during her interview, because each state has different signature requirements. It is much easier in Ohio, where she only needs 5,000 signatures, than in her home state, Maryland, where she needs 25,000.
Colorado only requires a $1,000 payment. Her son is helping her develop her web and social media presence to gain volunteers to collect the signatures she needs in order to appear on each state's ballot.
While she thinks that campaigns are dominated by money, she believes social media is changing that. Kahn sees five trends happening that are opening the democratic system: voters are fed up, becoming organized, and learning about independent candidates; small independent parties are popping up everywhere; independent candidates helping each other navigate the system; social media outlets are explicitly reaching out to non-conventional candidates; and, she says a specific movement -- IndependentVoting.org -- is helping to build independent political movements.
“Social media is raising awareness, increasing factions, and bringing people together,” Kahn says.
We have a choice, Kahn posits, to either create stronger divisions in our country or bring people together.
“Our visual of people screaming at each other has been taken by the media as the way that people have conversations." Kahn remarked. However, a presidential candidate needs to speak to the larger vision of the nation.
"Our values are some of the basic ones we were founded on -- freedom, justice under the law, and opportunity. If a candidate can speak to those larger values, they can help bring people together. If we have conversations in smaller groups, where you specifically ask, ‘what do we need to move forward,’ there will be more agreement than disagreement," she concluded.
Photo Credit: Campaign for Lynn S. Kahn