FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Two Modest Proposals for Choosing Better Presidents

by

In a recent column, I noted that if Oprah Winfrey runs for president in 2020, she will be at least as qualified for the office as the incumbent, Donald Trump, was when he announced his 2016 campaign.

They’re both billionaires of similar net worth — her self-made, him not so much.

They’re both former television personalities — her the long-time host of a top talk show and builder of an attached media empire, him a “reality TV” shock jock. And so on and so forth.

The feedback I’ve received runs from the “no way” of Trump supporters to the “yes way” of Trump haters, with a healthy portion of people who consider neither of the two even remotely qualified for the job and wonder if the world is going crazy.

So, let’s talk about qualifications for the presidency. The US Constitution lists three: A prospective president must be at least 35 years old, be a “natural born citizen” of the United States, and have resided within the US for 14 years.

But, of course, many people want more than just those three things in a president, and I guess I can’t blame them. Unfortunately, what people — at least the people who pick major party presidential nominees — usually seem to want is a sitting or former governor or US Senator (or, occasionally, a victorious general). They want “political experience.”

I disagree. America’s fifty governors and 535 members of Congress seem to constitute the worst possible pool from which to select a president. Their collective record of corruption, incompetence, scandal, etc. is probably an order of magnitude worse than the record of any 585 randomly selected regular Americans. Seldom a day goes by without some politician getting caught with his hand in the till, or texting photos of his junk to random women, while passing monumentally stupid laws and running up $20 trillion in debt.

Secondly, if you think the American government is moving in the wrong direction, well, guess who’s been moving it that way? These are the people trying to run our lives, and doing a terrible job of it. Political power attracts narcissists, sociopaths and megalomaniacs.

So, why not change the way we pick the president? I have two ideas, either one or both of which would improve the situation.

First, I suggest a constitutional amendment disqualifying any man or woman who has previously held elected office from running for president. A candidate could run for Congress or governor now or for president later, but not both. That should get rid of a lot of the scheming and opportunism associated with a political “career ladder” leading to the Oval Office.

Secondly — and, yes more severely — why not select the president by lottery? Just draw a random Social Security number, make sure the person meets the other qualifications, and inaugurate him or her. Short of eliminating the office, random selection of the president seems like the best way to safeguard our liberties from people who want the job … and who therefore should never be allowed within a mile of it.

More articles by:

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

January 18, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Destabilizer: Trump’s Escalating Threats Against Iran
John W. Whitehead
Silence Is Betrayal: Get Up, Stand Up, Speak Up for Your Rights
Andrew Day
Of “Shitholes” and Liberals
Dave Lindorff
Rep. Gabbard Speaks Truth to Power About the Real Reason Korea Has Nukes
Barbara G. Ellis
The Workplace War: Hatpins Might Be in Style Again for Women
Binoy Kampmark
Corporate Sickness in May’s Britain
Ralph Nader
Twitter Rock Star Obama’s Silence Must Delight Trump
John G. Russell
#Loose Lips (Should) Sink … Presidencies … But Even If They Could, What Comes Next?
David Macaray
The “Mongrelization” of the White Race
Ramzy Baroud
In Words and Deeds: The Genesis of Israeli Violence
January 17, 2018
Seiji Yamada
Prevention is the Only Solution: a Hiroshima Native’s View of Nuclear Weapons
Chris Welzenbach
Force of Evil: Abraham Polonsky and Anti-Capitalist Noir
Thomas Klikauer
The Business of Bullshit
Howard Lisnoff
The Atomized and Siloed U.S. Left
Martha Rosenberg
How Big Pharma Infiltrated the Boston Museum of Science
George Wuerthner
The Collaboration Trap
David Swanson
Removing Trump Will Require New Activists
Michael McKinley
Australia and the Wars of the Alliance: United States Strategy
Binoy Kampmark
Macron in China
Cesar Chelala
The Distractor-in-Chief
Ted Rall
Why Trump is Right About Newspaper Libel Laws
Mary Serumaga
Corruption in Uganda: Minister Sam Kutesa and Company May Yet Survive Their Latest Scandal
January 16, 2018
Mark Schuller
What is a “Shithole Country” and Why is Trump So Obsessed With Haiti?
Paul Street
Notes From a “Shithole” Superpower
Louisa Willcox
Keeper of the Flame for Wilderness: Stewart “Brandy” Brandborg
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Sinister Plan to Kill the Iranian “Nukes” Deal
Franklin Lamb
Kafkaesque Impediments to Challenging Iran’s Theocracy
Norman Solomon
Why Senator Cardin is a Fitting Opponent for Chelsea Manning
Fred Gardner
GI Coffeehouses Recalled: a Compliment From General Westmoreland
Brian Terrell
Solidarity from Central Cellblock to Guantanamo
Don Fitz
Bondage Scandal: Looking Beneath the Surface
Rob Seimetz
#Resist Co-opting “Shithole”
Ted Rall
Trump Isn’t Unique
January 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Democrats and the End(s) of Politics
Paul Tritschler
Killing Floor: the Business of Animal Slaughter
Mike Garrity
In Targeting the Lynx, the Trump Administration Defies Facts, Law, and Science Once Again
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Hong Kong Politics: a Never-Ending Farce
Uri Avnery
Bibi’s Son (Or Three Men in a Car)
Dave Lindorff
Yesterday’s ‘Shithole Countries’ Can Become Classy Places Donald, and Vice Versa
Jeff Mackler
Lesser Evil Politics in Alabama
Jonah Raskin
Typewriters Still Smoking? An Interview with Underground Press Maven John McMillan
Jose-Antonio Orosco
Trump’s Comments Recall a Racist Past in Immigration Policy
David Macaray
Everything Seems to Be Going South
Kathy Kelly
41 Hearts Beating in Guantanamo
Weekend Edition
January 12, 2018
Friday - Sunday
George Burchett
Wormwood and a Shocking Secret of War: How Errol Morris Vindicated My Father, Wilfred Burchett
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail