Saturday, September 20, 2008

Presidential Qualifications

Several groups of people often complain that the Constitutional requirement that a person be born a naturalized citizen of the United States is anachronistic and unnecessary. As a result, these groups advocate an Amendment to the Constitution lifting that requirement.

I tend to agree, but I'm also in favor of more requirements for the Office of the President. A lot more, in fact.

No, I'm not convoluted enough to think it'll ever happen, but here's what I'd like to see in a Presidential Qualification Amendment.

1) Lift the naturalized citizen requirement. However, add the requirements that a candidate must (at the time of their inauguration) be a US citizen for no less than 35 consecutive years, and cannot have held a foreign citizenship in the last 21 years.
2) A candidate must have a minimum of 3 years military service (active duty).
3) A candidate must have been in public office at the State or Federal level for a minimum of 4 years.
4) This one's a kicker: a candidate must have earned a PhD (preferably from a public university).

Yeah, these are a bit extreme, but why not? Since they already have to be 35 years old, they have plenty of time to obtain all of those prerequisites. Indeed, the youngest President-elect to date was JFK at 43-years old (Teddy was younger when he took over, but he wasn't elected until he was older).

Since the President holds the position of Commander-in-Chief of the US Armed Forces, the military requirement seems natural. Also, since most Presidents historically have met the public office criteria (with the notable exceptions of Washington, Taylor, Grant, Arthur, and Eisenhower - all generals in the Army), that also seems natural.

Sure, the PhD is admittedly a stretch, but wouldn't you want a President who is clearly highly educated?

Also, get rid of term limits. There are natural term limits to the Presidency; it's called an election every four years. If the man (or woman) is doing a good enough job that enough Americans approve and want that person to stay in office forever, then why not?

Getting rid of term limits would also allow former Presidents to serve as VPs, cabinet members, and other positions in the line-of-succession for the Presidency. I admit this would be a rarity (John Q. Adams is the only President I can think of who even bothered with public office after his term as President), but why eliminate the possibility? After all, these people are supposed to be our "best and brightest" (save the jokes, please).

Again, I hold no illusions that this would ever happen, but it would be nice, no?


  1. I wrote about the high school diploma thing awhile back, and I think the citizenship and sanity are already requirements (though maybe not entirely enforced). As far as English, that depends on whether or not we make it the official, legal language of the United States, and I'm not so sure how I feel about that.

    Posted by JeffScape on October 1, 2008 - Wednesday - 4:50 AM

  2. I think we should also have requirements for voting.

    Certain basic requirements:

    High School Diploma.

    Speak English.

    Proof of Citizenship.

    Legally sane.

    How can someone who beats their wife and has a 90 IQ have as much say in the direction of our country as a doctor who cures cancer daily?

    We could have a tiered voting based on one's life accomplishments....e.g. your vote counts more if you have a B.A., MFA, MBA, etc.

    Oh wait, that would make actual sense. The Idiocracy will get what it deserves in November and January and for years to come.

    "I've got two tickets to paradise..."

    Posted by Johnny O™ on September 20, 2008 - Saturday - 12:50 PM