WASHINGTON, Nov. 11, 2015 — Although Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson continue to lead the field of Republicans in the race to the White House, political pundits continue to insist that when all is said and done, neither will be the party’s nominee.
That is because in the world of modern politics, there are expectations that our presidential candidates will meet certain criteria and hail from certain types of background, usually of affluence. These expectations are anything but realistic.
Some feel that candidates should have a background in government, politics or law. Others feel that our candidates should be well versed in foreign affairs, well educated, and good-looking. They believe that polish is as important as substance, sending candidates off to enlist the services of marketing firms and image consultants.
But what does the United States Constitution say about anyone 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.
Amendment XXII, Section 1 — the term limiting amendment ratified on February 27, 1951 — says:
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 a natural-born U.S. citizen — born here or born abroad to parents at least one of whom was a U.S. citizen at the time — may serve as president of the United States.
- One must be at least 35 years of age to be president.
- One must have lived in the United States for at least 14 years to be president, in addition to being a natural-born citizen.
These are the only explicit criteria in the Constitution. Yet, in the eyes of some, being a commoner disqualifies you to become president. If you are low-born, only an Ivy League education or years spent at diplomatic teas will polish you enough to suit the office. Should it be this way?
Carson has dominated the news lately. What are the pundits saying about him?
Kevin Price, a columnist at Communities Digital News, posted, “Understanding the Ben Carson phenomenon.” He points out that although Carson is an extraordinary man and that 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 an article titled “The Reason Ben Carson Can’t Win? Ben Carson.”
Hunter flatly says that Ben Carson does not have the slightest chance of becoming the Republican nominee. “It’s not going to happen,” he says. “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.”
On Oct. 14, Eugene Robinson of MySA wrote of Carson, “Scarier than even Trump.” “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.”
Political pundits experts have pontificated on the subject, and most 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 uninformed, 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 on livescience.com, 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 read like this:
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 U.S. 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. They represent the people and work for the people. 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.
There are few rules as to who can become president. And yes, that means Donald Trump or Ben Carson, or you, can occupy the White House.