Experiential Qualification to be a U.S. President
April 7, 2016
A headline in today’s U.S. political news caught my eye. Bernie Sanders called Hillary Clinton unqualified to be president. In fact, a tradition was established in the early days of the Republic that identified the job of Secretary of State has the most ideally suitable experience for an aspiring president. Five of the first eight presidents — Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, John Quincy Adams, and Van Buren — used the job of secretary of state as a stepping stone before becoming president. So did the fifteenth president, James Buchanan. Other former secretaries of state who ran for president or as a running mate for that office include the present secretary of state, John Kerry, John Calhoun, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, William Jennings Bryan and James Blaine. Ed Muskie, Colin Powell, and Al Haig were secretaries of state who also had aspirations of being president.
The selection of many former secretaries of state to be president in the early 1800s was not mere coincidence. As designed, the president’s main responsibility lies in the area of foreign affairs, and he or she doubles as commander in chief of the armed forces. Domestic policy making is mainly controlled by the legislative branch. All other things being the same, having prior years of experience as the president’s main advisor on diplomacy ought to provide a priceless experience to prepare one for being the ultimate deciders on matters of war, peace and all interactions with friends and foes abroad.
Copyright 2016, Larry Greenberg. All rights reserved. No secondary distribution without express permission.