The Constitution lays out very minimal requirements for the highest offices in the land. A president or vice president must be at least 35 years old, a “natural born” citizen, and a 14-year inhabitant of the United States.
You need better credentials than that to get a job at McDonald’s. In fact, the people who’ve been making Trump’s “hamberders” are probably more qualified to be president than he is.
Short of a constitutional amendment to change the qualifications — which would take years if it could pass at all — it’s up to the two major parties and we, the people, to demand better.
A few suggestions:
- Before being considered for nomination by a major party, each candidate must release their tax returns for the previous 10 years and must explicitly state all sources of income — inheritance, investments, earned wealth for that period. The parties also should insist upon knowing how much debt the candidate has incurred, and who the creditors and lenders are.
- Either military service or being elected to a previous public office should be requirements for anyone who wishes to run for president. I realize that this wouldn’t filter out everyone who’s unfit — Richard Nixon springs to mind — but it would help winnow out another rich opportunist who has no idea how government works and is just in it for the money.
- Once and for all, we need an official ruling on whether a president really is immune from prosecution for crimes while in office. It seems ludicrous that the president could, for example, murder the vice president and get away with it if his party refused to impeach him.
- For the same reason, it needs to be established that a president cannot pardon himself.
- Members of the president’s immediate family may not hold paid posts in the administration. Those who wish to serve as unpaid “advisers” must pass the same security screenings as everyone else.
- While we’re at it, spouses, significant others and children of sitting members of Congress should be barred from Cabinet posts. This would prevent someone like “Moscow” Mitch McConnell from having to deal with his wife’s boss while she was Secretary of Transportation. That’s a clear conflict of interest.
- Finally — for the nation’s sake — Donald Trump should receive none of the honors due a past president. We’re stuck paying his salary and his Secret Service detail, but we should not be on the hook for a presidential library or a state funeral. Reserve those honors for presidents who are not also traitors.