Age and citizenship is not enough. We need new requirements for president.

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Article 2, Section One, The United States Constitution: No person except a natural-born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States. 

So there you have it. In order to qualify to become the president of the United States of America, this little paragraph of our beloved Constitution spells it out. Is it me or doesn’t it seem a bid odd that the requirements to become the most powerful person in the free world are a bit on the weak side? I mean, I’ve seen job postings for dog-walker that are harder to qualify for.

I have to admit, since the election of Donald Trump in 2016, this subject has been on my mind quite a bit. If you look at who has been elected president throughout history, every one of them have had at least some combination of prior military or government experience. Until now.

Let’s face it, our Founders back in those days were looking at a much different landscape. We had just won a long and bloody war with England, led by the venerable George Washington. It had become clear that Washington would be the first president. He had the stature. He was a national treasure, and they all knew he was the only individual who could lead the new democracy and ensure it’s survival.

In other words, Article 2 was conceived mostly with the idea of Washington at the helm. And, with the ill-conceived Electoral College, the view was that the electors, as they called them, would consist of wise men who would ensure that we would have a fine and qualified person as president. How’s that working out these days?

It just seems as though we should ask a lot more of our prospective presidents. The Founders had no way of knowing what the country would be like in 250 years. The mechanism is in place to amend the Constitution. Of course, in the age of extreme partisanship and rampant distrust of the media, amending it is next to impossible.

But we need to try. There are a lot of ideas out there as to what kind of requirements we should attach to future presidential candidates. But there are some that are so common sense and reasonable it would be hard to argue otherwise.

For instance, is it asking too much for a future president to release at least 10 years of tax returns?

Is it asking too much to require a future president to pass an extensive background check from the FBI, as well as a credit inquiry?

Is it asking too much to require a future president to pass a simple psychiatric examination to demonstrate his or her’s mental fitness for office?

Is it asking too much that a future president to have at least a minimum 2 years of either government or military experience?

Is it asking too much for a future president to have completed at least 4 years of college at an accredited university?

I don’t know. Perhaps I’m way off base here. Experts would certainly weigh in to poke holes in every one of these suggestions. But age and birthplace? That’s it? Is that the best we can do in 2019?

The last time we amended the Constitution was in 1992 and it dealt with Congressional compensation. Before that it was 1971, which changed the legal voting age to 18.

That’s all. Two times in the last 48 years. I get it. The amendment process is long. It’s onerous. It’s meant to be that way. But we’ve done it before. The Founders gave us a process. I hope we haven’t gotten so polarized that it can’t be done in the future. And certainly, the flood of money from corporations and other special interests into our election system adds additional hurdles.

Still, it’s worth it to give it a shot. Donald Trump has changed the office of the presidency forever. I’ve heard pundits say that in the future, we will have to enact legislation in order to “Trump-proof” the office. Legislation can be reversed and changed. A Constitutional Amendment however, puts an exclamation point on it–much harder to reverse–and a permanence that could stand the test of time.

If enacted, we would owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Trump. Thanks to him, we’re finally taking a hard look at who should be able to occupy the office of president of the United States. As a wise person once said, “Never let a crisis go to waste.”

 

38 comments

  1. You have read my mind! I like your thinking. Heck, the last accounting job I had, I had to have a CPA license, a B.S. in Accounting, pass a drug test, background check, and a check of my finances. I have long advocated for increasing the requirements for the job, but most especially since Trump has come along, for there is literally nothing in either his education or background that qualifies him to lead this nation. I’m not convinced he’s even literate, given that he cannot string together a sentence that makes any sense.

    This is well-written and an excellent proposal. As you have given me permission in the past to share your work, I shall take implied permission to re-blog this post! 😉 Thank you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jill. I really appreciate that. It’s true what you say though. I’ve thought about this even before Trump. It’s outdated and it’s time to update. My god…it’s 2019 for god’s sake!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, welcome to the 21st century! There are a number of areas where the Constitution needs to be updated, and in truth, the framers knew that would be the case and expected it to be updated as the world changed. That is the issue I have with the textualists on the Supreme Court, as Scalia was. You cannot interpret literally what was written in 1787, in 2019! This is my big gripe with the 2nd amendment … when they wrote “the right to bear arms”, they were talking about muskets, not AR-15s for Pete’s sake!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes! The document is living and breathing as far as I’m concerned. Conservatives say no way….until it’s something they don’t like….It’s, as usual….hypocritical….But, that’s who they are!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I took online classes under Professor Akhil Reed Amar, and that was precisely what he called it … a living, breathing document. He has written several excellent books on the Constitution, but one I think you might like is “America’s Unwritten Constitution” that explains how the document was meant to grow with the nation. It’s well worth the read. Now, if we could just get the conservatives to read it! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I would definitely like that book. Conservatives? God help us. The Party of Trump! The Constitution no longer matters. Thanks for the book recommendation!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    Jeff, aka Brookingslib over at On The Fence Voters has read my mind and written the post that I have been thinking about for quite some time now, but never got around to. A lot has changed in 230+ years, and it’s time for a few changes in our Constitution. Take a look at this post, for it is a common-sense, practical solution that would prevent a future recurrence of our current nightmare. Thank you, Jeff, for implied permission to share 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Jill. I’m honored. I think you and I are on the same page on just about everything going on these days. This is so beyond NOT NORMAL!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My pleasure!!! The other thing is that I think the electoral college simply must GO. It did the very thing it was established to prevent in 2016, and has led to a greater degree of voter apathy today.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The only thing I disagree with is the need for a college education. While it might help, a college degree is often not worth the paper it is printed on. And, there are many a worthy person who was not able to get such a degree because of circumstances beyond their control. This is a form of elitism.
    Everyone is supposed to have the opportunity to succeed. Make it so!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You might be on to something there. Perhaps that requirement is a bit too restrictive. Hey, nothing’s written in stone. Starting the conversation is my goal. I wish I’d hear more coming out of Congress though. I don’t think most of them want to even touch the Constitution as it pertains to this. Enough public pressure might get some action though. It’s a start!!

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  4. I cannot see the point of demanding a college education. I’ve with rawgod on this, we have excellent people who have worked all their lives, are intelligent and thoughtful, have made a major contribution to society, and have never attended college
    On the other hand, looking at the other suggestions, surely they should be extended to anybody running for public office?
    I’m not happy with the idea of the psychiatric examination. If I’m examining somebody and I happen to have right wing opinions, anybody from the left is obviously so flaky as to be unfit for office. It’s just too subjective

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That psychiatric examination was added because of many people’s worries about Trump’s stability and the failure of anyone to take heed of some of the odd things he’s done and said. People are afraid of it happening again. I agree with you about the requirement of a college education. Life experience could take its place.—- Suzanne

      Liked by 2 people

      1. There are two issues. Firstly what proportion of people in public office are properly sane anyway? You’ve probably got to be pretty close to the borders of sanity to want to stand.
        Douglas Adams said many years ago “It is a well-known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it… anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”
        He said that several decades before Trump entered politics

        Also, to be honest, psychiatric examination is so flaky that you couldn’t trust the results. To many people have fooled too many psychiatrists

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Good points Jim. Maybe just a background check and the tax returns? Hey, I’m throwing ideas out there. We could find fault with all of them. But, my main point is…the status quo ain’t getting it done anymore. Trump has exposed our flawed system. We can’t let this happen again….can we?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Well at the moment the US requirements are more strict than most (I’ve posted a link in another answer)
        So without being nasty the problems may not be the candidates but the electorate. When you get too large of your electorate ‘left behind’ who feel they have nothing to lose, then they might well vote for an utterly unsuitable candidate
        The real answer to the problem is not to screen the candidates but to ensure you don’t have too many citizens left behind

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      4. Well, that may be part of it. But I would also add that the way our media works over here, you’re only getting one side of the argument when you reach those rural areas. I’d say over 90-95% of all talk radio and news is dominated by the right-wing. That and the fact that social media allows all of us to follow only the news we agree with. It’s a dilemma to be honest with you. We’ve made a horrible mistake this time around. But even before the current occupant in the White House, I thought we should revisit the presidential requirement section of our Constitution. The complexities of our world today warrant a little more than 35 years old and a citizen. Not enough anymore.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. But if the US insisted on a decent education for all, proper literacy then you might find that you solve that problem
        But the real problem seems to be that social media has allowed both sides to retreat into a silo and just slag each other off.
        I remember a chap in the UK who commented about his days in the army during WW2. One thing he said was that the guy who pulls you out of a burning tank is your mate, whether he is a toff or not
        From what I can make out, American society didn’t get properly stirred up with the vietnam war because the prosperous could afford to send their youngsters to Canada or wherever to ‘study’
        Or have bone spurs or whatever
        (It might be an interesting exercise to take all congressmen etc of a suitable age and compare the proportion of them who’d served in Vietnam as opposed to the population at large)
        But just watching from outside, American society seems to have been living in silos not talking to each other before social media
        If I was an American I would worry about the phrase ‘fly over’ states. There’s something unhealthy in that. We have to build a society that is inclusive, not exclusive 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      6. You’re very insightful on what’s happening over here. I commend you. You’re spot on. The way our voting system is set up, candidates only go to those states that are deemed tossups…or purple states..those states that go either Democratic or Republican and swing both ways. Some states are simply ignored because they’re deemed un-winnable. It’s all about the so-called ‘electoral college.’ Perhaps this is where we need to go as far as making changes. It’s outdated. Winning the popular vote means nothing. It’s winning the states and having 270 electoral votes that wins you the presidency. I just wish we had elections where every state would be visited and every vote would be campaigned for. We’re so far from that.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. From what I know of the American constitution, the reason for the electoral college is to make every state worth fighting for. If you look at your demography, if it wasn’t for the college, and was purely done on a popular vote basis, most states could be ignored and all the political campaigning, (and perhaps more importantly, all the government spending between elections to build up their voter base) would go on a handful of very major metropolitan areas
        Interestingly this was discussed over here by political commentators after Trump won because people asked why America had the college
        One comment made was that over the years swing states have changed

        We see something similar with our first past the post system, in that some seats are ‘safe’
        But actually what you find is that if a party doesn’t cultivate its safe seats and look after them, suddenly they’re not safe any more. So in one election , Labour was virtually wiped out in Scotland which had been a stronghold.
        The party lost touch with their electorate and took them for granted and people won’t put up with that for long

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Much of what you say is true. However, in reality, candidates for president right now only compete in a about 7-10 states…which of course leaves the other 40 or so conceded for the most part. There has to be a better way. Campaigns have to target the 7-10 states so as to allocate resources properly. Some states are trying to change their own constitutions that would mandate ‘electors’ choose the candidate that wins the national popular vote. I get what you’re saying though. I’d like for candidates to have to fight for every single state. Just don’t know how you get that done. What the Republican Party has done however is gerrymander states to the point where it favors them overwhelmingly. And, they’ve gone out of there way to suppress the vote…not encourage it. That my friend is a travesty. We have to do better. This democracy thing sure is messy!!

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Very messy
        As Churchill said “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

        Like

      10. Thanks Suzanne. Yes, the Founders actually did fear someone like Trump. They always thought the so-called ‘electors’ would make sure this wouldn’t happen. Well, we know that’s just not the case in our woefully outdated system. We need to take a hard look at what the hell we’re doing.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I’m thinking many people would look at the lack of requirement issue for POTUS as part of the idealism that in America, ANYONE can be president. That the people and the ‘electors’ should be trusted to do the research and make the decision who is or isn’t qualified to be POTUS. Well, I’m just not buying it anymore. We don’t have to re-invent the wheel here. But, we need some protection….something…we as Americans can agree on that would at least give us some piece of mind that the person we’re electing is at least at a minimum….competent, and not a criminal.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Just to prove i’m not just having a dig at the Americans, we’ve seen this in the UK,
        When they break down where ‘leave’ voters in the referendum were a clear majority, it was pretty well everywhere. The strong holds of remaining in the EU were in the thirty major metropolitan areas which have actually done pretty well recently
        We’ve really got to do something about the rural areas and those towns that have been left to die

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  5. I would also recommend we reassess constitutionally the standards for the composition of the electoral college. To “rubber stamp” our current Presidential fool by this anonymously operating body is ridiculous.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The problem I have with this is that it doesn’t address one of the major problems in our current political system, the uninformed and apathetic voter. Instead of putting lots of requirements on the person running for president, how about having some requirements that the average voter know a little something aobut civics and history? I also thing abolishing the very corrupt two party system in this country would open up the field to many more qualified candidates who simply cannot get a platform of exposure because they don’t want to affiliate with either the democrats or republicans. This is a double edged sword if making these requirements for office because, what if you have an amazing candidate who fits into all requisit areas of qualification except for one? Also, who makes the decision and what’s to stop them from adding more and more requirements as time goes on, making the office even more elite than it is now?
    If anything, the requirements should fall to the congress as they are the ones with the real power anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All good points. I guess you could call my post aspirational more than anything. Only suggestions. I know each one would have detractors and valid reasons for not doing it. I agree with you about the electorate. I wish the same thing. Perhaps if we added a few more requirements for POTUS, we could then abolish the ridiculous electoral college? It’s a real dilemma this particular POTUS has wrought on our democracy. All it’s flaws are now in full view. It’s pretty clear a HUGE mistake has occurred. We must do better!

      Like

  7. Good post. I do not think it is too much to ask. What is interesting to me, pretty much everything you needed to know about why Trump was a poor candidate for the job was their in his history. He just made people focus on Hillary’s imperfections. Other than the timing and numbers, nothing Michael Cohen said was surprising. What went less noticed was the comment that Cohen was ordered to strong arm 500 contractors like plumbers, electricians, sheet rockers, etc. to avoid paying them. That is not news, but the number is astounding.

    As for the requirements, they are all legitimate, but it would be nice if Congress actually did their job. It has been said the President runs the White House like a mob boss. We have two people working for him without formal titles and who did not get Senate approval. One has been reported that his security clearance was strong armed by his father-in-law against the recommendations of his intelligence and chief of staff. The reason is with his debts, he could be blackmailed or influenced.

    My strong advice to the Congressional sycophants which I have shared with them is to stand up to the President. The simple question I have asked them (or their staff), is Donald Trump the man you want to spend your dear reputation on? The miscalculation made by the GOP reps at Michael Cohen’s testimony is they think Trump’s lying will stop and all the Trump lies are known. Neither of those assumptions are correct.

    Sorry for the sidebar. Whatever we decide to do, if Congress lets the President act like a king, it will be irrelevant.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Keith. Totally agree. Finally at least we have oversight. Their inaction in last two years is a disgrace. Even the last two days, after his fawning over Kim, we get mostly silence. They stand and cheer his ranting at CPAC. How can we tolerate another two years?
      I hope Democrats get behind changing requirements. We deserve at least a debate. Some states are acting at least. Desperate times call for desperate measures!!

      Like

      1. True. I do believe the President is in a slow death spiral, which is getting a little faster. His sycophants cannot stop it, but they try. My strong advice is they need to seriously consider other options for 2020. As the economic growth stalls as predicted along with the significant increase in farmer bankruptcies, in large part due to his ill-conceived tariff war, more of the bloom will be off the rose when he needs it most. Keith

        Like

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