Although we dislike jumping into the fray at this early stage, it occurs to us we might be able to winnow out some of the people who will undoubtedly drive us all crazy between now and 2016.
We know the Constitution outlines basic qualifications for holding federal elective offices: age restrictions, birthplace, not felons, etc. But perhaps with the addition of a few more guidelines, we can strip the field of people who want fame, glory, and a book contract without any expectation of ever achieving national office-holder status.
Our first suggestion would be to bar any current Representative or Senator who has not finished one complete term in the Senate, or two complete terms in the House. This would also apply to sitting Governors, who must have completed one entire term of office before leaping into the larger pool.
Initially, this would remove from endless consideration and debate Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and the ever-adorable Sarah Palin.
Our second suggestion would be that the birthplace of any candidate be certified as American mainland, not excluding Hawaii and Alaska and Guam, and that such documentation be on display from filing through the election itself. This is not a slap at President Obama. Rather it is to keep the office of the President from being cheapened and
demeaned by Americans themselves and, not to put too fine a point on it, allies and others (enemies) who want only to bring down an administration rather than build it. We don’t know yet whom this would eliminate but perhaps for the ever-hungry Ted Cruz, born in Calgary to an American mother and a Cuban father. He may have some difficult dancing to do around this.
Our third consideration is that the candidate, male or female, has himself/herself either been attached to the US Armed Forces, or have at least one member of his/her immediate family who has served in the US Armed Forces. This, we think, should make going to war not such an easy thing to imagine, and ideally lessen war-mongering by any party. People who have had first-hand experience of war generally are cautious about wanting to leap into one a second time.
Fourth, it is not enough simply to have big bucks. The candidate, he or she, must have done something beneficial for the nation with his/her pocketbook. This puts Warren Buffet on the fast track, and keeps Linda McMahon off it entirely. It allows Bill Gates to run, but keeps a thousand Wall Street tycoons from doing so. All to the good.
Our fifth suggestion would be that any current Federal office holder who decides to try for the brass ring should have a record of solid achievement in the job already occupied. Which is to say, fine, you’ve been a Senator from Arkansas; what piece of legislation can you point to that you either introduced, fought for, stood by to vote FOR that has brought the nation prosperity, or safety, or leadership abroad? This would eliminate men and women whose basic achievement to date has been saying “No” to any problem suggested by a member of another party without having offered a solution of his/her own.
Our sixth suggestion has to do with recognizing one’s one humanity. Being a federal office-holder does not exempt a candidate from needing to have sympathy, empathy, understanding of the conditions, good or ill, of other people, and of people around the world.
Number Seven is that a candidate must have some foreign travel in his/her portfolio. He or she need not be best friends with the heads of state in the places visited, but he/she must have spent enough time in a foreign clime to (a) recognize that is it a foreign clime and (b) grasp that life in that second clime may not be, or may be even more, blessed , than our own. This allows candidates to ideally learn something about foreign relations before taking office and relying thereafter on those whose travels have already solidified in their own minds these differences. We need a man or a woman who has experienced life abroad for himself/herself, and has learned therefrom.
Our eighth suggestion would be that the putative candidate, or at least those who think of themselves as possible candidates, have a sense of priorities and a sense of humor that ideally is self-deprecating. It is not enough to simply offer oneself up as a leader without having a string of ideas and options for changing the nation in better ways. Nor is it good enough to stand foursquare and echo your party’s platform. We want to know what we’re getting and what to expect. If you can’t share that with us, be gone!
Our ninth suggestion is one we cannot take credit for: the candidate should, early in the season, experience living life on (a) social security only, (b) Medicare only, (c) food stamps only. Ideally they should live in a diverse community of some kind that is different from what they are used to. They must use public transportation or bicycles to get around their new neighborhoods, or even their own cars, and leave the chauffeur-driven limos behind.
Our tenth idea is that each candidate should, by lot, draw from a group of straws that identifies them temporarily as law-breakers of some sort. We think it is imperative that a candidate understand how slowly and tediously and often how futilely the wheels of justice turn for so many others. We want them to experience not only the expense of defending themselves in court, but also the kind of plea-bargaining that goes on that so often leads to felons’ early release. And we want them to devote enough time to this project to go out after a judicial decision has been made to try to seek work and a living wage.
Our final suggestion is that each candidate, whether an attorney or prosecutor or businessman or woman, leave the campaign trail for a period of a two or three weeks to seek another sort of job, an everyday occupation that would also ideally allow them to care for their family and maintain their current standard of living. And good luck to them.
You will notice that few of these suggestions have anything Republican or Democratic about them. These are meant exclusively for those men and women who, whether by upbringing or inclination, believe that they deserve our votes without actually working for them. That somehow they above most are entitled to gnaw at the Federal trough for as long as their money and their party support hold out.
We believe that debates to come in 2015 and 2016 will not be less entertaining but rather more if candidates can meet the above challenges. We also believe that these challenges are ways of securing our own free time, of saving ourselves from the humiliation of watching and listening to people who under no circumstances should ever be allowed to represent the United States of America. (And we did NOT mention candidates who feel compelled to expose themselves in social media for any purpose whatever.)
Nor incidentally have we mentioned the roles of PACs and private funding during the campaign, nor even hinted that candidates might sometimes be tempted to exaggerate their accomplishments or decorate their lives with medals never won nor accomplishments never made real.
We believe that candidates for 2016 can and should be aware of these new conditions to their performances and their likelihoods of actually taking seats in legislatures around the country.
Besides, think of how happy these new conditions would make their opponents.