I awoke this morning thinking of how hard I have worked, prepared, studied, and trained to get where I am today in terms of professional qualifications for my career. As a provider for not only my immediate family but also extended family, including my employees, I need to stay competitive and employable; I need to keep my skills sharp and always continue learning. In my professional growth to date I have put in years of field work and passed rigorous exams to gain certification as a licensed contractor, business leader, and professional in my field. Scholastically, I have earned a bachelor's degree, professional certification, and am currently a master's degree candidate. I intend to go on to a PhD, again, to stay competitive and sharp. I have also traveled to nearly 40 different countries, learning about other cultures and studying global politics. Even after all of this schooling and experience, I still wouldn't qualify for some teaching jobs without a teaching credential and I wouldn't qualify to work as a plumbing contractor. I wouldn't be qualified to get a job at a local bakery for my lack of culinary experience, and I would not be a very good candidate to run for local office, given my lack of political experience and legislative knowledge. Yet, even without my fancy degrees, certificates, and licensure, I am well qualified to run for the eminent post of the highest responsibility, running the most powerful country in the world. Gotta ask: How the *#@$ does this make sense??
I was moved by the description on this page from the Library of Congress which states that the "Legal requirements for presidential candidates have remained the same since the year Washington accepted the presidency." These requirements are all of the following:
- Must be a natural born citizen of the U.S. (yup)
- Must have lived in the U.S. for 14 years (done)
- Must be over the age of 35 (qualified)
Hey, I'm good to go! No need to understand how political systems and legislative processes work. No need to be schooled on foreign affairs and world cultures. Our military "commander in chief" needs zero military experience nor any training on military tactical command. The controller for the entire U.S. economy does not need an MBA or any schooling in economic theory. The country's CEO does not need any prior management training or to demonstrate any team leadership skills. There is absolutely no metric for measuring some basic level of intelligence nor do we have a standard to evaluate a candidate's ability to make wise, calm, rational decisions. And we have no way to determine a candidate's capacity for kindness and empathy. At the very least, you'd think there would be some psychological examination to evaluate whether or not the candidate for president is a psychopath. Nope. You could be bat sh!t crazy but so long as you're over 35, if you're popular enough with your constituents, the public, and the media, you may just get the job running the entire country. Oh but we have checks and balances. Do we? When the POTUS retains the ability to hire and fire key cabinet members, sign executive orders, veto important legislation, declare emergency powers of control, appoint judges to the supreme court, do we really have checks on the powers afforded by this position?
The Library of Congress goes on to state that "Many people don't know that our country's [founding president] was reluctant to accept the office [of POTUS]. Washington revealed in a speech in 1789, 'I cannot describe, the painful emotions which I felt in being called upon to determine whether I would accept or refuse the Presidency of the United States' (speech). Washington had fully intended to retire to Mt. Vernon...but [his] sense of duty to his new country outweighed his desire to withdraw from public life. Washington was not the only candidate to feel reluctant about the presidency. James K. Polk accepted the Democratic party's nomination as a duty 'neither...sought nor declined.' How often do you hear candidates today speak of duty as a motivation for candidacy?"
I, for one, long for a presidential candidate that is reluctant to serve, like going to war, but feels such a strong sense of duty toward public service that they are willing to make a monumental personal sacrifice for at least 4 years. Instead, we have incentivized desire, greed, and corruption to the position of POTUS by offering unparalleled executive power, popular praise, extraordinary privilege to do and say what pleases almost without restraint and often with little regard to public service - sometimes in opposition to public benefit - all garnished with an attractive salary that includes lifelong pension benefits. In creating this unique position of wealth, power, privilege, and praise, we have spoiled not only the spirit of the office but we have disincentivized the actual duty to execute policy which maximizes public benefit. I personally feel the chief position should be more like jury duty, provide only nominal pay, and establish limitations on the actions and discourse of the public servant, relegating the president to little more than a bot, faithfully (and empathetically...hence the need for a human and not a robot) executing the will of the people (not his/her own will) through legislative process.
Furthermore, the position should require at a minimum, the following qualifications (like any job position of high ranking power), in addition to the existing requirements:
- Must hold a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from an accredited university. A PhD is preferred.
That's right. Must be educated. What, pray tell, is the argument to the contrary? George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were not formally educated? Show me a man (or woman) that can lead like Washington or Lincoln and I'll show you the next president. The world is not the same as it was 400 years ago. Today's leader must be educated.
- One of the aforementioned degrees must be related to the physical sciences.
This is to ensure that our leader has a solid understanding of the functions of the very thing that supports all life on earth...the earth.
- One of the degrees must be related to business, economics, politics, or social studies. An MBA is preferred.
- Must have at least 10 years of experience in an office of public service. Military service qualifies. May substitute up to 4 years with a degree related to political science.
Any application for position of CEO of any reputable company (and the U.S. is a reputable "company") will require a minimum number of experience in the relevant field. No board of directors is going to trust the execution of their corporation to just any schmo off the street...except congress.
- Must pass a physical and mental examination proving minimum capacity for service (no crazies please).
- Must serve at least 4 years in the U.S. military.
The position of POTUS should not be coveted, else we will get what we have thusly designed: a swamp of corruption. The position should not be sought after by anyone other than those seeking the greatest challenge of their life. The job should be highly competitive and difficult to achieve by anyone other than top performing individuals. The American people deserve nothing less than the best leader possible. Again, like jury duty...only you have to train like a Navy Seal, be educated like a rocket scientist, and demonstrate mastery of the four virtues of Marcus Aurelius to qualify. Oh, and it only pays minimum wage with no pension after retirement. Sound appealing? No? Good! Who in their right mind would want that job?? Exactly!