What Qualifies A Person for POTUS?

First, I’d like to mention an article recently written by Sam Harris regarding why Palin is a bad choice for VP:

richarddawkins.net/article,3068, … eles-Times

The article prompted this question: What exactly does qualify a person to be President of the United States?

What kind of “experience” could possibly prepare somebody for the most complex job on the planet?

Should it just be a matter of intelligence? I don’t think so. There have to be super-intelligent people who don’t have and leadership qualities whatsoever. Conversely, there must also exist people who are great leaders, but are one I.Q. point away from Forest Gump.

So what does qualify somebody? Being a great public speaker? Being relatable to the public? Having a thorough knowledge of the U.S. economy, politics, and history? What guarantee would there be that such an educated person would also be wise and utilize this knowledge effectively?

Hmm, do you mean qualifies them to become president or qualifies them to be a superior leader of the US?

Since most people don’t choose presidents by considering the latter, I’ll say that if I were to pick the one thing that qualifies a person to win, I think that it’s having a campaign machine that knows how to work modern media to achieve 2 things:

  1. Saturate the public with propaganda that explains major issues in non-specific ways concerning how your candidate stands for what the polls say (and always, always watch the electoral swing states) that most people want to hear about those issues. If you can include god and patriotism in a message, do so at every possible opportunity.

Sub-#1. If the media doesn’t fully cooperate or insists on asking too many prying questions about the actual record of your candidates, cry ‘foul!’ in whatever way most effectively intimidates them enough to shut them up.

  1. Saturate the public with propaganda that portrays your opponents as the exact opposite of what you seek to portray your people as in #1.

Sub-#2. If you can’t achieve sufficient saturation and the opponent keeps fighting back on the issues, divert the public’s attention with nonsense.

Okay, there’s a #3: Hope (well, ‘pray’ in this case) that enough Americans are ignorant and gullible and lazy enough to be emotionally swayed by what you’ve done, but not so lazy that they don’t vote.

And, frankly, there really doesn’t even have to be a god to answer the prayer for hitting #3, because the target isn’t that far away.

Achem, ideally I think it’s as simple as being the candidate who represents the most issues the majority cares about. At first I was going to say the candidate who’s knows best the constitution, ie has been acquainted with it for a longer period of time, but because the constitution is not written in stone, and is in fact amendable to the people’s will, the factor that becoming president ought to be contingent upon is that a candidate at least appears to have a policy/set of things he promises he’ll do which the majority agrees with.

Now, because the majority is ignorant of way in which the state runs, and I include myself here, a candidate can pretty much promise anything and the people will follow that drum beat as long as it’s promised in the right way, ie while holding a beer, or while in a texas accent, etc. In effect, because were so stupid, what we want, becomes essentially what the president wants. We don’t judge them as much as we start following them. And because of this I have a suspicion that monarchies might be a pathological path of least resistance than republics.

a war veteran

not a simple “community organizer”

native born citizen at least 35 years old. period.


Even in the ideal, the situation is more complex than xzc puts it. It’s not just the policies that the candidate espouses, it’s also the decisions that the candidate will make about issues that haven’t come up yet. The candidate has to not only say all the right things, but has to have reacted the right way in the past, or to otherwise instill trust that they will react the right way in the future.
Although, again, that’s in the ideal. I’m routinely amazed by how blatantly candidates can cater to public opinion. Lies are far more effective than they should be, and it’s not a new occurrence. I started reading a book on FDR this summer, and he was famous for twisting the facts of his history to mesh with the demands of the current circumstance. McCain and Palin are doing it now, and Obama did it as soon as the primaries ended. We really need instant-runoff voting.

Imp, clearly you don’t value the ability to dress oneself as highly as most Americans.

Thanks for your replies.

Ingenium, while I agree that what you mentioned in your post will give a candidate a much better chance of winning, does running a great campaign make that person qualified? I just can’t help but believe there is a difference between being qualified for a position, and giving the appearance you are qualified for a position. I guess I’d liken it to somebody being great at job interviews, yet not having a resume that matches the skills needed for the position. Does the fact that they are a great interviewer qualify them for the job?

xzc, great points. Do you think the President needs to transcend the seemingly immediate needs of the people to accomplish a greater cause? I mean, would a great President do what’s unpopular to the public at the moment if he knew it was for their good, whether the people realized it or not?

I know some would actually argue that being a war veteran makes you qualified to be President, but really, is every soldier who has ever fought in a war qualified to be President? If not, this might be a small factor, but certainly far from the only factor.

So everybody who is 35 or older and is a natural born citizen is qualified to be President? I’ll bet that’s a very unpopular opinion. What about Dennis Rodman? Tom Cruise? I think meeting eligibilty requirements is different than qualified.

Carleas, I agree mostly. I hear people who are shocked out how Sarah Palin is being treated, and how the Obama campaign is started to run negative ads. Have they no idea at how effective negative ads are?

What about this: a test is administered to the President and Vice President. It is a long, difficult test that covers logic, decision making, leadership abilities, history, and politics. The test and scores are posted for the public to see. Of course, the test would need to be created and administered by an unbiased third party. Or maybe 1/3 of the test could be created by the Republicans, a 1/3 by the Democrats, and 1/3 by an independent party. Your thoughts?

constitutionally, that is the qualification


That’s the eligibility requirement. I won’t bother defining qualified, since I think you’re the only one who would rather argue semantics than search for a deeper meaning in the post. It seems everybody else understands how I’m using the term qualified.

well if you want a socialist dictator, your qualification is to be a democrat

if you want free markets and low taxes and more freedom, your qualification is republican

deeper meaning than empty platitudes? nope. the constitution says what is necessary.

without semantics there is no meaning


Why don’t these forums have an ignore button? :confused:

In lieu of the fact that society is too uninvolved in government and generally too ignorant to really know what the president knows, to actively demand an act from the president, or to be listened to even when they do demand soemthing, the president ought to do something he thinks is best, and disregard the voice of opposition. But because there can be a disconnect between what the president thinks is best, and what is actually best, the one condition for the presidency that seems to matter most is judgment. Character plays a big role in here as well.

The problem with electing an elistist, or someone out of touch with the middle class (which isn’t the majority nowadays anyways) arises because of the implication that this person’s idea of what is best for the country is disconnected from what is actually best for the majority. One needs to display a certain character, so that one’s judgment is then accepted.

Hillary, for example, didn’t start changing her promised policies when she began winning towards the end of the Democratic primaries. She started doing shots in local pubs while espousing the same thing she always had said. It’s not that people suddenly understood and agreed with her policies. People just saw her doing shots and then had faith that her policies would be in favor of them, because she looks like one of them. Before she looked like an elitist, and thus, most draw the conclusion that her policies will benefit the elitists.

You can promise anything as long as you do it in a certain way. The promise won’t be dissected by the voters. It’s the mannerisms that will be. If they feel you are one of them, then they’ll just assume that that the promises will benefit people like them. It’s as simple as that.

Republican and democrats have a track record of doing things a certain way, ie republicans get the rep of cutting taxes or whatnot, but in the end, none of this matters. It’s all in the person and their policies. There’s nothing to stop a republican presidential candidate from raising taxes and increasing the size of government while in office. As long as he does so while on a horse, smoking malboro reds and drinking a beer, the base of that party will change their opinions. They’ll start defending the president’s opinion like it was their own. Just look at GW. Republicans used to be against war. Against increase of government. Against bureaucracy. But…new guy says these are good, and goddamnit if he says so, then that’s what being a republican is all about!