Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Job Description: President of the U.S.

So, this morning as I was listening to the latest political news on The Today Show, I started thinking about all the job descriptions I've written which then made me wonder if there was a job description for the position of President of the United States.  Well, the Founding Fathers included a job description of sorts in the U. S. Constitution, in Article II, Sections 1, 2 and 3 and in Article VI (no religious test).  


In Article II, Section 1, they spelled out the basic qualifications: must be 35 years of age, a resident within the U.S. for 14 years, and a natural-born citizen, i.e. someone born within the U.S. borders.
In Article VI, the Founding Fathers also specified that there will be no religious test to qualify, either for any religion or against.  Geez, for the last 30+ months, I've been reading job postings for administrative assistants and writers, and they have included skill qualifications, education, and experience.  Do you see anything about those in the qualifications for President?  No.  In fact, what the Founding Fathers spelled out is actually covered by the I9 form for all U.S. employees -- over 18? Check.  Are you a U.S. citizen or legal resident alien? Check. Have you ever been convicted of a felony?  I guess the Founding Fathers didn't expect a convicted felon to apply for the job.  

I think anyone who wants to be President needs to fill out an application at USAJobs and answer an assessment questionnaire that covers the qualifications, skills, education and experience needed to carry out the duties and responsibilities.  The vetting process is certainly rigorous, as we're seeing during the Republican primary process, but I believe it could be supplemented by background and credit checks done by the Office of Personnel Management.  It really bothers me that there are no specific qualifications regarding skills, education and experience for this important government position.  If I must be a college graduate, have certain skills and experience, then I believe any candidate for President should also. 

What specific qualifications do you think a candidate for President needs?

The Founding Fathers wrote specifically about certain duties and responsibilities, otherwise the job demanded the chief executive of our country to lead the Executive Branch, uphold, defend and protect the Constitution.  

The President is the Commander in Chief of the military forces, and has the power to grant reprieves and pardons.
The President has the power to make treaties, with approval by the Senate.
The President shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Supreme Court judges and all other officers of the U.S. with the approval of the Senate.
The President has the power to make recess appointments.
The President will inform Congress of the State of the Union, and recommend actions and resolutions.
The President may, in an extraordinary situation, convene Congress and tell them when and where.
The President receives Ambassadors and other public Ministers.
The President shall "take care that the Laws be faithfully executed."
The President shall commission all the Officers of the U.S.

It all seems rather broad to me.  There are implied powers, such as for foreign policy creation in being Commander in Chief and appointing Ambassadors but nothing specific.  I also don't see anything here about the American economy.  That may fall under the public Ministers, as in Secretary of Treasury.

The Founding Fathers may have wanted this job open to any citizen of the U.S. who thought he or she could do it and that's the reason for the minimum qualifications and broad description of duties and responsibilities.  Nowadays, it's clear that not just any citizen can apply for this job.  

For example, one qualification now is to have wealth and/or financial independence.  Another is to have crack fundraising skills and contacts.  Another qualification that I've observed especially this year is selective perception of reality.  Another is the ability to talk to the media and not say anything of substance.

What other qualifications would you like to see included for this important government position?  Remember, the U.S. now has laws against discrimination for gender, age, race, religion, sexual orientation or disability.



Elizabeth T said...

as a note: given the Constitution precedes the 14th Amendment - it should be noted that "natural born" would NOT have meant anyone born here. Yes, it precludes those born elsewhere, but being born here didn't make you qualified.

At the time, the only people who could vote were rich men. The only possible pool of candidates consisted of educated, well-off men. The only people who could vote at all were white, males. The existence of the Electoral College is all the proof I need to demonstrate the desire to have rich-white-men be the final check on the reins of power.

The separation of church & state was no an idealistic "oh, everyone ought to be treated equally in the eyes of God". It was a desire to avoid repeating the King/Church of England power-sharing. And, they couldn't get all of the colonies together if they continued to prohibit Catholics from holding office. Another reason to prevent establishment of religion was for fear of the President deciding to declare the nation Catholic, and getting a President/Pope power-sharing. The potential to influence the mortal affairs of state by the concentrated influence of an organized religious group is vast.

I don't think the Congress [in any of it's incarnations prior to the ratification of the Constitution] was as idealistic as some want to imagine them. Yes, some of them were the torches of Enlightenment and Liberty. Some of them were also anti-papist slave owners who were perfectly happy being so.

The idea that someone who was Black, Indian, Female, etc would even try to be president would have been incomprehensible. While I am willing to accept that some might have been willing to consider a woman holding office of some sort, I cannot imagine any of them would ever have considered the possibility of a woman actually being President. And, god almighty, Obama would have rocked their world. Though, it might be a toss-up as to whether Obama or H.Clinton would have been a bigger identity crisis.

I agree - there ought to be better qualifications for being President besides age & residency. I'm not sure which qualifications would ensure a pool of outstanding candidates without excluding too many people. A college degree sounds good - but not all degrees are equal. Oral Roberts University vs. University of Minnesota. But, a degree that indicates an ability to learn, to take in new ideas, process them, and make original conclusions which can be communicated effectively to others who are ignorant - THAT's what I want to see. Someone who has held down a piss-ant job, who has lived outside of the country, who speaks a foreign language ... The government often has a point-system for employee interviews - you get points for different things, e.g. status as a veteran/handicapped/minority/degree/etc. The Presidency could equally use that sort of check-list. Then at least the electorate would see what exactly the candidate has going for her.

jaylen watkins said...

Quite interesting article.

Job description template