Has the U.S. presidency become too much for one person to handle? Consider how much our nation has changed since its founding: Our land area is now 10 times greater, our population is 100 times greater, our national economy is 3,000 times greater, and the federal budget is 2 million times greater! Consider also the complexity of today’s political challenges, the dizzying pace of national and global events and the overwhelming flow of information in the digital world.

The federal budget, approaching $4 trillion, and the federal workforce, with 3.5 million employees and enlisted personnel, both exceed those of any corporation in the world. Yet, while all public corporations – and many private ones – have a board of directors to guide their chief executive officer, our national government has no such thing.

The Cabinet cannot play that role; it lacks independence, because its members serve at the pleasure of the president. The Congress is designed as much to counter, not support, the president. And the voters have a “yes or no” voice only every four years.

One solution is for the former presidents to come together as a Presidents Council to provide support to the president and show the nation a model of bipartisan leadership. They possess a unique understanding of the challenges faced by the sitting president. And these elder statesmen, having reached the pinnacle of political success, can work for the long-term national good, unfettered by considerations of re-election or party politics.

Business leaders often proclaim that success comes from “investing in your people.” Most assuredly, we invest in our presidents: over $2 billion in their campaigns, millions of dollars while in office, millions more after they leave office. We can no longer afford to squander that investment. America’s 21st-century challenges are too great.

Former presidents already play key roles for the nation, leading humanitarian fundraising efforts, supporting policy initiatives, conducting diplomacy and sometimes providing candid advice to the president. A Presidents Council would simply raise these efforts to a higher level.

But I also suggest a more ambitious role for a Presidents Council, when warranted. In the face of impulsive action by a sitting president, the council could be a voice of reason. When national tempers are flaring, the council could be a calming force. And when the president and the Congress are in gridlock, the council could help move them past partisan posturing.

Some of the Founding Fathers opposed the very notion of a singular executive. Such power too closely resembled the monarchy they had fought to be free of.

Some of the constitutional framers supported an executive council. Others called at least for a “privy council” of independently appointed individuals to advise the president.

George Mason, a leading delegate, argued that rejecting such a council would be “an experiment on which the most despotic Governments had never ventured.” Ben Franklin expressed that a privy council “would not only be a check on a bad President but be a relief to a good one” and that otherwise “the Executive will be always increasing here, as elsewhere, till it ends in a Monarchy.”

Nevertheless, Mason’s proposal for an independently elected six-person executive council to advise the president was rejected, eight states to three.

It is time to revisit this issue. Most Americans would welcome a bipartisan Presidents Council. Are these former presidents without political or personal blemishes? Certainly not. But the trials of the presidency inevitably result in greater wisdom, judgment and even humility.

Jimmy Carter set the modern era’s standard for post-presidential service. George H.W. Bush joined together with Bill Clinton – the rival who defeated Bush’s re-election bid – to raise funds for earthquake and tsunami relief. Clinton has gone beyond redemption to become one of the world’s most respected elder statesmen.

And even George W. Bush, perhaps the most controversial former president, exhibited a second-term maturing sometimes overlooked: a widely respected multilateral approach to North Korea; establishing American leadership battling malaria and AIDS in Africa; and centrist political appointments, such as the highly regarded Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

So, let us call upon these former presidents to step forward. Four individuals – Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush – could transform American democracy by coming together as a Presidents Council. And one individual, President Obama, could show true leadership by calling on them to do so.