Clearly, the Constitution defines the qualifications for one to become the President but are these the only qualifications which should be met? By law, yes. By rational thought, no. This is where those who believe in absolute strict adherence to the rule of the constitution and those who believe common sense should have a role may differ – but I contend that the two, strict adherence and common sense, can and must be used in tandem.
The Constitution tells us the following:
- 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.
Clearly too, there are other requirements:
- Under the Twenty-second Amendment, no person can be elected president more than twice. The amendment also specifies that if any eligible person who serves as president or acting president for more than two years of a term for which some other eligible person was elected president, the former can only be elected president once. Scholars disagree whether anyone no longer eligible to be elected president could be elected vice president, pursuant to the qualifications set out under the Twelfth Amendment.
- Under Article I, Section 3, Clause 7, upon conviction in impeachment cases, the Senate has the option of disqualifying convicted individuals from holding other federal offices, including the presidency.
- Under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Constitution prohibits a person from becoming president who swore an oath to support the Constitution and later rebelled against the United States. However, the Congress, by a two-thirds vote of each house, can remove the disqualification.
This, of course, is all well and good and should never be, in any way, compromised or dithered with. This is the strict adherence to which we must maintain in the nature and execution of the process. The Constitution is clear; and the words, not just pertaining to the eligibility of a candidate but ALL the words contained within it are the most important and defining words ever written in regards to governance of a nation.
That said, I believe a concept of the founders is every bit as important as the words of the founders in establishing the leaders of our nation. Note that I said “nation” rather than “government” – and that in itself is important. Our founders never intended for us to elect government leaders but leaders of a nation. To believe or think otherwise would be to believe our nation should be led by government instead of by the people hence the words, Of The People, By The People and For The People. In those very words we find the most important concept of the founders and the concept equal in importance to all of the words combined.
The concept of…Trust.
Our founders placed in the people, trust. They trusted the people to choose their elected officials and the trust to decide who would lead this nation of people.
This is where common sense MUST emerge – for if it does not, the trust of the founders would not be misplaced but violated; and just as we must not violate the words, we must also not violate the trust of our founders.
The founders put forth the bare qualifications for leadership and trusted the people to put forth not only those who would meet those qualifications but those who would exceed them; and if We The People only adhere to the words, any Tom, Dick or Barack would qualify to be the President.
Now, more than ever before, we must live up to the trust placed in us by the founders.
Clearly, we cannot know everything about an individual before an election as some things become apparent only after the vote takes place – and as we are all human, mistakes can be made but these mistakes can be rectified if we live up to the trust of the founders.
We could not have known before the last presidential election that the future leader of the nation would travel the world apologizing for our nation – but he did. Should such a candidate be elected again knowing what we now know about his feelings regarding our nation’s place in the world? If we elect this candidate again, knowing he does not feel the pride in his nation that We The People feel, we would be violating the founder’s trust.
When a candidate runs on a slogan of change and professes a desire to “fundamentally change America,” are we not bound by the trust of the founders to demand what that candidate means by “fundamental change?”
If we buy into it and discover the “fundamental change” is damaging to our nation, should we then elect that person a second time?
Our founders vested in us the trust to discern the intent of the candidate before the first election and to rectify the situation is a mistake has been made.
Should a candidate who has received the direct endorsement of the communist party or any political organization in conflict with the founder’s intentions without denouncing it immediately be entrusted to a position of leadership or a second term?
Would it be responsible to reelect a candidate who has shirked any responsibility for the nation’s woes under his watch while steadfastly blaming his political rivals and even the effects of nature in other parts of the world or would that violate the trust of the founders?
Would the trust placed in the people be upheld if the people reelected a leader who decided unilaterally what laws would and would not be defended, bypassed the authority of congress in committing our military to action or by executive order placed into effect mandates voted down by congress?
Certainly there are those who placed their trust in candidate Obama in 2008 not knowing or realizing what they now know – and those people have options. They could insist on a different candidate to represent their party in 2012…they could vote for a candidate from a different party in 2012…they could simply decline to vote at all or they could vote again for Obama.
For those who choose again to vote for Obama, while within their right to do so even given his performance, I submit 1 of 2 things (or a combination of them) must be true. Either those people are determined to vote strictly for party loyalty or, they, like their chosen candidate, are willing to violate the trust of the founders believing in and subscribing to an ideology contrary to the words and intentions of the Constitution.
For those who choose not to cast any vote, while within their rights, ought not to be afforded consideration in discussions regarding their displeasure in any candidate or policy regardless of political affiliation.
For those who desire a different candidate and or vote for the candidate of a different party – should a different candidate not be chosen to represent their party – they have indeed shown the trust of the founders to be upheld.
Is this all to be aimed solely at the left? Certainly not, as both parties need to do a much better job moving forward and vetting candidates. At hand, however, is an upcoming election and an incumbent in the White House who has shown his need for much better vetting over and over again.
A great deal of vetting can and should be done before the nomination is given. It is up to us, provided with a great deal of trust from the founders to be or become aware of a candidate’s background, associates, friends and financial donors. Those who don’t meet the standards of trust provided by the founders should not be nominated.
Our current President started his political career in the home of a known domestic terrorist. Does that meet the correct standard? He attended a church for more than 20 years presided over by a devout anti-American pastor. Does THAT meet the standard? He married a woman who waited until his nomination to declare that for the first time in her adult life, she was proud of her country. Does THAT meet the standard?
His staunchest defenders would be quick to point out that neither his wife, his pastor nor his associates were being elected – and they would be correct in such a statement – but does it not violate the trust handed to us by the founders to elect such a President who would surround himself with such people as it flies in the face of common sense to believe that such a person would not harbor similar feelings?
Obviously, the people had little (if any) idea of who the President would nominate to cabinet or appointed positions; but does it not violate the trust of the founders to reelect a President who has nominated or appointed such a collection of people who have avoided their taxes, or been involved in socialist or communist organizations exhibiting an ideology so contrary to the founder’s intent and or counter to the very foundations of our nation?
Likewise, these standards must be used to vet those running from any and all parties for any and all offices.
Does an administration which refuses to uphold federal laws and brings litigation against individual states who would move to enforce those laws violate the trust of the founders? Does an administration which embraces those who have violated federal immigration law by executive order over the direct vote of those elected by the people not violate the trust of the founders? Does an administration which mandates that the people purchase a good or service not violate the trust of the founders? Is it not a violation of the trust of the founders when an administration excludes it’s political friends from their own mandate to purchase a good or service?
Are we to trust, immaterial of party affiliation, any candidate who accepts donations from organizations based on race or ethnicity? Are we to trust any candidate who would express a preference for one religion over another in regard to policy decisions? Are we to place the trust of the founders in any candidate who would outwardly refuse to assist our allies or embrace our enemies? Would the trust of the founders be well placed in a candidate whose followers are outwardly anarchist in their ideology?
Those who violate that trust should not be considered fit for leadership – and those who would elect someone knowing of such violations of trust should not be considered fit to cast a ballot.
There are those who would argue that the questions raised here and the violations of trust mentioned here are open to interpretation and are, at best, subjective but the intentions, the guidelines and the words provided by the founders are clear. Clear too is the fact that the founders entrusted to the people the power to hold government accountable through the process of elections.
Bear in mind we are not talking about violations of the people’s trust – which is subjective in that what one may see as a violation another may not. We ARE talking about violations of the trust of the founders which, as stated, is clearly identified in the founding documents and therefore, not subjective.
Without doubt, honest mistakes can, have and will be made by elected officials and by those who elect them; but if any of those parties fail to take direct steps to rectify them, they can no longer be considered mistakes but willful violations of the trust of the founders.
235 years ago, the founders gave us the guidelines, in writing, to create, build and maintain the greatest nation on earth; and they also placed in us, their trust that we could and would make the right decisions when casting our ballots to elect those people who would live up to that level of trust.
If We The People fail to hold ourselves to those high standards, how then can we or why should we expect our elected officials to meet them?
While we can impeach elected officials for breaking the laws by which we all are governed, we cannot impeach them for breaking the trust of the founders regardless of the wishes of the people.
Every 2, 4 or 6 years, the founders have entrusted to us with the ability to correct our mistakes as voters and the mistakes not corrected by those for whom we voted; and if we are to prove the trust of the founder was not misplaced, we must make the necessary corrections in the next election.
Our future as a nation depends on it.