The Qualifications to Become President
by juliewolf, Tue Jun 03, 2008 at 03:23:48 AM EDT
Article Two of the Constitution sets the principal qualifications to be eligible for election as President. A Presidential candidate must:
Additionally, the Constitution disqualifies some people from the Presidency. Under Article One of the United States Constitution, the Senate has the option, upon conviction, of disqualifying impeached individuals from holding other federal offices, including the Presidency. Under the Twenty-Second Amendment, no one can be elected President more than twice. The Twenty-Second Amendment also specifies that anyone who serves more than two years as President or Acting President, of a term for which someone else was elected President, can only be elected President once. Under the Twelfth Amendment a person who is no longer eligible to be President may not be Vice President either.
- be a natural-born citizen of the United States;
- be at least thirty-five years old;
- have been a permanent resident in the United States for at least fourteen years.
There are, of course other requirements, but those have more to do with the process. In order to become President, you need to first win the support of your own party and then win the support, via the electoral college, of your country.
Clearly, with respect to whatever arbitrary standards one may wish to use to suggest that Obama is not qualified to be president, he fits all the constitutional requirements.
Furthermore, he seems to be ready to claim one other component of the requirements I added below: winning the support of his party.
I should take a moment and explain something: political parties are private entities. They have the right to choose a nominee via whatever process they so desire. If their means by which to do so does not lead to victory, they may revisit that mechanism in the future, but it's up to the party to work out their own process for selecting a nominee. Our own process is fairly Democratic when it comes to individual states: instead of using winner-take-all, we make it proportional, in an attempt to reflect consensus. But it's not at all democratic to include unelected superdelegates into the mix, so we've got a fairly odd mix of a democratic and non-democratic process.
And we've had this from the beginning.
This is bittersweet for me. I wasn't a fan of Obama at first, and I don't view him through rose-colored glasses, but he's won me over, flaws and all.
But here's what it boils down to for me, and this is how Obama won my support: he won everybody else's support. He won a lot of contests that he wasn't expected to win, and in winning he not only demonstrated his ability as a formidable campaigner, he demonstrated his ability to work in a wide variety of styles of elections and locations. He demonstrated flexibility, strength and creativity, and he faced myriad challenges. Time after time, his campaign would hit a roadblock that seemed like it would be a serious burden and then something would happen to move beyond it.
He won my support by showing me that he could challenge other opponents in ways I never expected and demonstrated some extremely clever political savvy, to the point where, when the campaign made mistakes, I had to remind myself that these people are still new to this.
I'd love to live long enough to see the first woman president. I'd love to live to see the first non-white president. I think there's a chance I can get to see both of these things in my lifetime, but we'll see whether or not I get to see either.
Neither of these things, to me, is a reason to support a candidate. For either of these candidates to get as far as they did, it took some real political power (and chutzpah), but that's not why either of them deserves support. They both deserve support because they're Democrats who have mounted formidable campaigns to oppose a man who, if elected, will do further damage to this country.
But, in the end, we can only elect one of them to be President.
So we have a choice here: we can complain about how badly our favored candidate was treated. And that's okay, on both sides. Both Obama and Clinton have been treated badly by the media and by one another. So yeah, fine, complain for a little bit, and work it out.
But once that's done... we can continue to campaign or we can figure out where we need to go from here.
And that starts with realizing what it means to be qualified to be President. And being in the Senate, or being in D.C., or being a politician? That's not what qualifies you. Any cabinet will need people who know Washington and know the way things work there. Any cabinet will need people who know how to get things done.
But President? That just requires that you meet a few basic requirements and draw enough people to vote for you that you win an election.
Clinton? Obama? They may or may not fulfill that requirement, but it's not so relevant now which one does or does not. We pretty much have our nominee.
So, Obama supporters? Celebrate tonight, and be a little petty if you feel a need to be. You get one night of free gloating.
Clinton supporters? Mourn tonight, and be a little angry if you feel a need to be. You get one night of free being pissed off at the world and the party. And if you need to take another night or two to work this out, great.
But here's my thought: let's take Monday and make it "clean slate" day: no matter how petulant, rude, insulting, condescending, sexist, racist, whiny, etc, anyone's been? It's done. It's over.
Come Monday, no one gets to say "but what about..." in reference to some perceived slight from February.
Come Monday, we brush ourselves off from it all and go to work.
I'm not asking anyone to commit to this. I'm just putting it out there and saying I'm willing to work for my third choice in this race and if you want to join me, I'd be thrilled.