According to the U.S. constitution, the president must meet three criteria:
1) be 35 years of age;
2) be a natural born citizen; and
3) have lived in the United States for a minimum of 14 years (doesn’t have to be consecutive or even immediately prior to serving as president).
After studying the current president-elect and the widely perceived limitations of his ability to effectively govern the United States, I would like to suggest revisiting these criteria and adding a few more requirements to the job description for the President of the United States.
I spent four years serving on my local town Selectboard. For those of you who live outside of the New England region of the United States, The Selectboard serves as a governing arm of some local towns. Many people asked me why I ran for office on our local Selectboard. My primary answer was and still is:
“I believe in a participatory democracy and the need for all citizens to be civically engaged.”
My town is a small one, with a population of approximately 5,000. As a Selectboard member, I was responsible for local decision making. Even in such a small town, serving in this capacity was hard work and surprisingly contentious.
In my capacity as an elected official, I was held to standards. Each year I was given the State’s Conflict of Interest laws to read and sign as a demonstration of my commitment to lawful and ethical actions. For example, I couldn’t accept gifts from people that exceeded $49.99 because an amount greater than this could potentially be seen as swaying my vote towards the interests of the donor rather than the interest of the town. When campaigning, I had to account for my fundraising, making sure that I didn’t directly benefit from contributions made towards my election campaign (for reference, I probably took in a total of $500.00 to pay for lawn signs and flyers). These laws were put in place to protect the public I was elected to serve.
As a state employee, my job has some basic requirements too including a number of years of experience necessary for me to obtain the position. I also have to abide by state conflict of interest laws. For example, I can’t accept bribes or anything of value in exchange for special influence. I cannot use my position to get something which I am not entitled to. I certainly cannot participate in “any particular matter in which I or a member of my immediate family has a financial interest.” In fact, as a state employee, I may not even “act in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to think that I would show favor toward someone, or that I can be improperly influenced.” In other words, I have to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. These are not hard guidelines to follow and I understand their necessity as an attempt to fight corruption.
It has struck me during this latest election cycle that I am held to a significantly higher standard of ethics and law in my roles at both local and state levels than the President of the United States. At a minimum, I would think some standard of ethics would be necessary in order to a) be eligible to run for President of the United States; and b) assume that role if elected.
In thinking about the job description for a leader of the free world, I have some suggestions to propose. To be eligible for the ballot, candidates for the President of the United States should meet these minimum requirements:
- All candidates must have a minimum of 1 year of civic engagement or governance in some capacity. This does not have to be as an elected official. It could include serving on a local School Board, town-appointed committee or other such position that would provide the most basic understanding of what public governance means.
- All candidates are required to release tax information so that the public can have a full understanding of potential conflicts of interest across the globe.
- The candidate cannot have the appearance of multiple conflicts of interest in foreign countries that would hinder his/her ability to govern without influence of said foreign government.
- In order to assume office if elected, the candidate is required to put business holdings in a blind trust.
- A candidate must have a record of contributing to the tax base of the country and cannot show signs of gross tax evasion and refer to such tax evasion as an astute business decision.
- A candidate cannot have multiple cases (certainly not in the double digits) of fraudulent business dealings pending in a court of law. For example, a candidate with an active suit against him/her for say, a fake university that took money from people without delivering a product, (aka Ponzi scheme) would be deemed ineligible for president.
- A candidate must not hold ties to or the appearance of ties to terrorist organizations such as Neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups.
- A candidate cannot choose a national strategist with a history of giving voice to Neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups.
- A candidate cannot make threats against other candidates, the media, or the voters especially when said threats blatantly violate the US Constitution.
- A candidate cannot have the appearance of believing or suggesting that sexual assault is a permissible activity. Evidence of this might include a candidate who has had multiple women come forward stating that they have been sexually assaulted by said presidential candidate.
- A candidate must not mention the size of his or other candidates’ penises while campaigning or at any point during a public debate with said other candidates.
I suspect that most citizens understood these requirements to be implicit in the title “President of the United States.” Given the results of the 2016 election, these requirements need to be made explicit.
These items represent the start of a new job description. Perhaps you can suggest other criteria to include?
(Note: To state the obvious, the job description list is satirical. Mostly. The notion that the POTUS should be held to a higher ethical and legal standard than others is not.)
This piece was originally submitted on medium.com