Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Are you Qualified?

Qualifications for the Office of President
CS Bennett
Blakpac Columnist

With multibillionaire Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson leading the field of both conservative and establishment republicans for the race to the White House, there is a theme out there in political pundit land that says when all is said and done, neither one of these two men are expected to be the party’s nominee. Why is that?

In the world of modern day politics there is an expectation that our presidential candidates meet a certain criteria or hail from a certain background, usually one of affluence. These widely held notions and beliefs are anything but realistic.

Some feel that candidates should have a background in government or politics or in law. Others feel, and quite strongly, that our candidates be well versed and educated and have good looks. They believe that appearance is everything. Such candidates enlist the services of marketing firms and image makers.

But what does the United States Constitution say about the people who would be president?

Article II, Section I states:

* No person except a natural born, 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.
Term limit amendment - US Constitution, Amendment XXII, Section 1 - ratified February 27, 1951
* No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a
term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once.
Only native-born U.S. citizens (or those born abroad, but only to parents at least one of whom was a U.S. citizen at the time) may serve president of the United States.
* One must also be at least 35 years of age to be president.

* Finally, one must live in the United States for at least 14 years to be president, in addition to being a natural-born citizen. The Constitution is vague on this point. For example, it does not make clear whether those 14 years need to be consecutive or what the precise definition of residency is.

These are the only explicit criteria in the Constitution. Yet, in the eyes of some, being a commoner does not qualify you to become president. The thinking is that you must be of a certain class, or pedigree, to even think of becoming president. Should it be this way?

My focus is on Carson since he has been dominating the news lately. So, what are the pundits saying?

Kevin Price, publisher and Editor in Chief, US Daily Review posted an article on 05/06/2015 entitled ‘Why Ben Carson Cannot Win’. He points out that although Carson is an extraordinary person, and on paper, he appears to be the ideal candidate for high office, he is not presidential timber for both obvious and less than obvious reasons.

Hunter of the Daily Kos Staff posted on 05/04/2015 an article entitled ‘The Reason Ben Carson Can't Win? Ben Carson’

He states that Ben Carson does not have the slightest chance of becoming the Republican nominee. It's not going to happen, he emphasizes. You see…
‘Ben Carson suffers from the worst of all conservative afflictions, a tragic disease that causes him to say what he thinks out loud, and no Republican with this condition has ever been elected president,’ he concludes.
On 10/14/2015 Eugene Robinson of MySA posted an article entitled Ben Carson: Scarier than even Trump. His actual quote: ‘The craziest thing about the Republican presidential contest isn’t that Donald Trump is in the lead. It’s that Dr. Ben Carson — who truly seems to have lost his mind — is in second place and gaining fast.

Trump may be a blowhard, but Carson has proved himself to be a crackpot of the first order. Of all the GOP contenders, he’s the scariest’.

Political pundits and political experts have all pontificated on the subject and most of them have concluded that neither Trump nor Carson can win the nomination. Never do they mention the citizens of America who put these two candidates in the lead. And when they do mention the voting public it is often in a negative light. They are called uninformed and stupid and uneducated about politics. This was not the case in the earlier campaigns for the president.

According to Heather Whipps, in a 10/26/2012 posting, past presidents come from various backgrounds. For starters, George Washington never went to college. But in his defense, schools of higher education were in short supply in early 18th-century America, she writes. Yet, he became one of our most revered presidents.

Abraham Lincoln had little political experience before running for president, failing both as a businessman and a farmer, and still, he is one of the most spoken about, and controversial, president. In general, he is regarded as our greatest president for preserving the union.

Whipps goes on to say that if an executive branch HR department kept partial stats on the job experience section of presidents' pre-election resumes, they would something read like this
* Lawyers: 27
* Teachers: 8
* Peanut Farmers: 1 (Carter)
* Fashion models: 1 (Ford)
* Actors: 1 (Reagan)
* Major League Baseball Owners: 1 (George W. Bush)
Out of the 16 two-term (or more, in the case of FDR) leaders, 10 of those never served in the Senate or the House of Representatives, long considered the engine of U.S. law and government.
The point is this; the US Constitution makes it clear that in this republic, our leaders are not chosen by committee or by some other bastardized form of oligarchy. The selection of our leaders is left in the hands of a hopefully informed citizenry.

Some in the United States have become lazy to the point of relying on the media, or community leaders, to direct, or coach, them in which way they should vote. Those who subscribe to this mindset are doing great harm to the political process and to the nation.

Voting is a right we all have in this great country. Choosing our leaders is a greater right and responsibility. Every citizen should do their homework. Yes, listen to what political pundits and political experts have to say but be not be led by them. Look elsewhere for a second or third opinion.
This is a remarkable country with unique rights and privileges. It is not just some place people come to because they have nowhere else to turn to. They come here because this country is exceptional. Remember that your vote will determine whether or not this country remains this way. Who does not like exceptional? Who does not want to be prosperous? You are exceptional just being an American and the potential for being prosperous is there for all Americans if you want it bad enough to get up and go after it.
Achievement is not placed in ones lap. It is something you have to earn.

Presidential candidates should keep this in mind when they run for office. They are sent to Washington on behalf of the people and to represent the people. Not only do they represent the people, they work for the people. And it should always be the people who decide the next president and no one else.

John F. Kennedy was the youngest person to be elected president; he was 43 years old when he was inaugurated in 1961. There is no maximum age limit set forth in the Constitution. Ronald Reagan was the oldest president; at the end of his term in 1988, he was nearly 77.
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