Back in 1787 when the Founders were drafting what would become the U.S. Constitution, the put in place very few requirements for the office of president and also for seats in the U.S. Congress. This made sense in 1787 because few, if any, had formal college educations and given that this nation was in its infant stages, none had experience in our nascent government. But that was 235 years ago and since that time much has changed. As I look at some members of this, the 117th Congress, and as I look at the former president [sic], I firmly believe the time has come to update the requirements for these highest offices in the land!
Let’s take a look at those requirements.
Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 lays out the requirements for the office of President of the United States:
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.
That’s it … three qualifications … a natural born citizen, age 35 or older, and a resident of the U.S. for at least 14 years.
House of Representatives
Article I, Section 2 specifies the requirements for a member of the House of Representatives:
No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.
Article I, Section 3 defines the requirements for a member of the Senate:
No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.
Again, this made a good bit of sense in 1787, but today? Not so much. The last person who occupied the Oval Office had never even read the U.S. Constitution, had no relevant college education, no prior government experience or legal experience, unless you count his thousands of lawsuits. How could this happen?
So, what would I add to the qualifications listed in the first two Articles of the Constitution? For starters, I would add an educational requirement, that candidates for the presidency, vice-presidency, or Congress must have, at a minimum, a Bachelor’s degree in either law, history, or political science. Also, I would like to see them required to pass a test on their knowledge of the U.S. Constitution. Do you know that immigrants to this nation, in order to qualify for citizenship, must pass a civics test to evaluate their knowledge of U.S. history and government? In essence, it is harder to become a citizen than to become president! The oath of office for the president states:
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Now, just how can you swear to preserve, protect, and defend a document you’ve never read? C’mon, folks, the Constitution in its entirety is just under 8,000 words long. The original, before any amendments, is 4,400 words. This isn’t exactly War and Peace, my friends! I have read it more than a few times, often in a single sitting!
I would require a background check and any credible accusations of sexual abuse, domestic abuse, or financial improprieties would automatically disqualify that person.
And one last thing I would like to see is a wealth cap. I don’t want either a president or senator or representative who was born with a silver spoon in his/her mouth and has no idea what it means to have to budget, to sometimes have to forego a purchase because money is tight. I don’t want someone sitting in Washington with millions … or billions … of dollars to his name that allow him to live in an Ivory Tower so high up that he/she does not even see We the People. And I don’t want a president or member of Congress who can buy his/her seat, nor do I want one so obsessed with money that they are willing to sell their future votes to the highest bidder for campaign donations. The Citizens United v FEC decision destroyed the integrity of politicians in this nation, and I would love to see it overturned, but we all know it won’t happen.
If my suggestions had been implemented some time ago, we would not have such corrupt and trashy people in our Congress today as Margie Greene, Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, Elise Stefanik, Madison Cawthorn and more. The Constitution was always intended to grow with the nation, to be a flexible and dynamic document that would meet the needs of today but also of tomorrow. The framers of that document would be horrified to see today’s corruption in every branch and at every level, completely disregarding the needs of the people of this nation … the people who pay their salaries, benefits, travel, and other perks.