With everything that’s going on in the country right now from Covid-19 to the economy to the civil unrest in the streets of America, I am forced to evaluate our leadership. I started comparing previous presidents to the one we have now. I decided to reacquaint myself with the qualifications for president in the Constitution. Surprisingly, there are only three pre-qualifications enumerated in the Constitution for the job of president.
Article II Section 1 of the Constitution of the United States define those three prerequisites which reads: 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. If someone wants to be president they have to be 35 years old by the time they are inaugurated, a US citizen, and have to have lived in the United States as a resident for at least 14 years. This seems like an embarrassingly facile list in today’s complicated time of globalism, technology, communications, and space travel, just to name a few.
That’s not to say that efforts have not been attempted to expand the minimum qualifications for a president, but those efforts were born out of partisan politics. For example, the birther theory that swept the right-wing of this country during the presidency of Barack Obama caused a serious attempt to add proof of citizenship to this list. Because Trump refused to share his taxes, the state of California tried to add a stipulation that a presidential candidate must show his taxes in order to be on the state ballot. Both of these measures ultimately failed because of the supremacy clause, which simply states that federal law supersedes state law.
Donald Trump meets all three of the Constitutional requirements for president, but there must be more to being a president than simply age, citizenship, and residency. Then I started thinking about previous presidents. I went back as far as President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and I researched each president’s prerequisites and major accomplishments during their presidential terms. The contrast between Trump and the worst among them is pretty striking.
John F Kennedy (Democrat) 1960-1963
He served in the US House of Representatives and served one term as senator before successfully becoming president. He is remembered for avoiding a nuclear war with Russia. He was assassinated in Dallas in 1963.
Lyndon B Johnson (Democrat) 1963-1970
He served two terms as a US senator from the state of Texas. He is remembered for The Great Society and signing into law civil rights legislation. Medicare and Medicaid were created during his presidency and he presided over the war on poverty.
Richard Nixon (Republican) 1970-1974
Richard Nixon was a US representative and senator as well as the vice president under President Dwight Eisenhower. Richard Nixon is remembered for resigning before being impeached for orchestrating the Watergate burglary.
Gerald Ford (Republican) 1974-1977
He served as the US Representative from the 5th district of Michigan for 24 years. Significant scientific achievements were realized during his presidency including the landing of the two Viking robotic explorers on Mars.
Jimmy Carter (Democrat) 1977-1980
Jimmy Carter served as a US representative from the state of Georgia and the governor of Georgia. Jimmy Carter is remembered for receiving the Nobel Peace prize and advancing the rights of minorities.
Ronald Reagan (Republican) 1980-1988
Ronald Reagan served two terms as the governor of California. Ronald Reagan is generally remembered for presiding over economic expansion based on the economic philosophy of trickle down economics. He was also the first president to openly embrace the ideology of Christian fundamentalism.
George H. W. Bush (Republican) 1988-1992
George H. W. Bush served in the U.S. House of Representatives, as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, as Director of Central Intelligence, and as the 43rd vice president. George H.W. Bush is remembered for not keeping his word at the Republican convention, “No new taxes.”
William Clinton (Democrat) 1992-2000
William Clinton served as both attorney general and governor of the state of Arkansas. He is remembered for presiding over the longest jobs expansion since world war II. It was also during his presidency that major crimes bill legislation passed and impacted African Americans.
George W. Bush (Republican) 2000-2008
George W Bush was the governor of Texas for one term. He is generally remembered as the architect of the response to the terrorist attacks on 9/11. The end of his presidency saw a huge economic turn down called The Great Recession.
Barack Obama (Democrat) 2008-2016
Barack Obama served three terms as an Illinois senator and was elected as a US senator for the state of Illinois. He is remembered most for the Affordable Care Act which allowed millions of Americans to obtain health insurance. He is also remembered for saving the automotive industry, and presiding over the economic recovery left by the previous administration. Barack Obama also received a Nobel Peace prize.
Regardless of your personal opinion about any of these men or their presidencies, they all have one thing in common. They all served in some capacity in government before they became president. Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton were all governors. Their executive experience allowed them to at least have a frame of reference going into the presidency having managed large organizations at the state level. Their executive experience as governor also allowed them to have the transferable experience of working with their states’ legislative branch. Nixon had the added benefit of having served as a vice president. Of these 10 men his previous experience was the closest to actually serving as president.
Kennedy, Johnson, Ford, and Obama worked in the United States Congress. They all had a working knowledge of the legislative process. They understood how a bill becomes law. As President this information is invaluable. You have to know the players in Congress and how to navigate around or through them to get your agenda implemented.
George Herbert Walker Bush had a very unique resume before serving as president. He worked in the Congress as a US Representative, so he was familiar with the process of law-making. Serving as the US ambassador to the United Nations allowed him to become familiar with all of the international global leaders with whom he would need to work. As director of the CIA he had inside knowledge of National security and access to the most overt and secret information about global threats. Finally, he served as vice president for eight years. Compared to the other men on this list it is a historical irony that someone with such a robust resume would only serve one term.
Now that brings us to our present occupant of the White House.
Donald Trump (Republican) 2016-present
Donald Trump was a real estate scion and a reality television star. Donald Trump’s complete presidential story has yet to be written. I have compiled a list of ten issues that I believe categorize Donald Trump’s presidency to date. I will note each issue with the typical opinion of a Trump supporter and a non Trump supporter.
Civil Unrest (Black Lives Matter/police reform)
Trump supporter – the police are doing their job, if you’re not a criminal you don’t have anything to worry about
Trump opponent – Trump has ignored how minorities are disproportionately arrested, harassed, and murdered by police officers
Trump supporter – coronavirus is a hoax, state and local governments are infringing upon the rights of Americans by insisting that they wear masks, businesses should be allowed to open at whatever capacity they deem necessary and safe
Trump opponent – we should listen to the CDC and the WHO, continue to practice social distancing, everyone should wear a mask
Trump supporter – Trump created the greatest economy in the history of the United States, coronavirus is the sole reason why the economy has derailed, there has been an overreaction to Coronavirus oh, the economy is most important
Trump opponent – Trump has not created the greatest economy in the history of the United States, lives are more important than money
Trump supporter – the impeachment trial was a witch hunt based on Obamagate which was an illegal surveillance of the Trump campaign which continued into the Trump Administration conducted by the deep state
Trump opponent – Trump’s impeachment was justified based on the myriad crimes committed by Trump, his campaign, and his administration
Trump supporter – the appointment of conservative judges will reform the country into more of a conservative and traditional country
Trump opponent – the judges that have been appointed by Trump har far right-wing conservative idealog who are perverting the Constitutional order
Trump supporter – all politicians lie
Trump opponent – Trump has lied over twenty thousand times as of this writing
Trump supporter – Trump has the support of black conservatives which proves that he is not racist
Trump opponent – Trump has continued to demonstrate his racist tendencies toward every minority group going back to his time as a private businessman
Trump supporter – everything Russian related against Donald Trump has been at the least unfair and at the most illegal
Trump opponent – Trump continues to show deference to Russia and Vladimir Putin even today as evidenced by the accusation is that Russia paid Afghani members of the Taliban to murder United States and coalition soldiers
Trump supporter – the federal government needs to continue to cut federal taxes whenever possible to reduce the burden on private business and individuals
Trump opponent – the Trump tax cuts were irresponsible and only provided a sugar high as evidenced by the deteriorating economy
Trump supporter – Trump has had little option about using Twitter to circumvent the fake news establishment who lie and misconstrue his message
Trump opponent – Trump has used Twitter to disseminate his myriad lies and untruths
If you think these responses by Trump supporters are irrational, I wrote a very popular blog about the mind of the Trump supporter that you can read here. If you agree with my characterization of Trump supporters’ responses, it is germane to mention that Trump and the Republicans know that they are in trouble this November. Trump is purposely fomenting civil unrest to distract from the crimes of his administration, and he very likely has committed treason.
What do you think? Has Donald Trump demonstrated the minimum qualifications to be a president of the United States in the 21st century?