Being a president of the United States is a highly influential position that requires a significant degree of responsibility and awareness of the existing challenges the country faces. The current requirements for this job include three qualifications, which will be discussed below. This paper argues that the current criteria should be changed and adjusted to allow more qualified candidates to run for the presidency.
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The Need for Change
Currently, the requirements to run for holding the presidency include being not younger than 35 years old, being the American resident for at least fourteen years, and being a natural-born US citizen (US Const. art. II, sec. 1). However, it is possible to say that these qualifications are insufficient. Existing requirements make a significant part of the population eligible for becoming a president. This point is effective from the perspectives of democracy but can result in adverse outcomes for the country if a poorly qualified individual wins an election.
The following changes can be made to make the existing requirements more effective:
- Allow non-natural-born citizens (for example, those who acquired citizenship through naturalization) to run for the presidency.
- Add a requirement for undergoing psychological testing to determine mental competence.
The requirement of being the natural-born citizen is debatable, as this term involves any person born in the United States, regardless of their parents’ citizenships. It means that an individual can be born in the country but not be a part of it for the majority of their life, which means that they may not be aware of the acute issues that require the president’s attention. At the same time, the requirement to be a natural-born citizen potentially disqualifies many individuals that could be fit for the job.
For example, first-generation immigrants that have lived in America for many years and have obtained American citizenship through naturalization can be equally qualified for the presidency. It is possible to add that if a person decides to become a US citizen despite the complexity of the procedure, they may be considered as patriotic as the individuals born in the country.
The requirement for undergoing psychological testing would help to minimize the consequences associated with possible mental disorders of the future president. For example, the US Department of Defense notes that mental, emotional, and personality disorders may affect occupational functioning significantly (26). The psychological evaluation should be seen as a necessary measure for identifying possible obstacles to running for the office that could affect the candidate’s decisions negatively in the future.
One could argue that the requirement of being a natural-born citizen prevents many potentially ineligible individuals, such as immigrants, from being a president of the United States. It is evident that being a citizen of a country is crucial for becoming its ruler. However, the requirement to be born in America does not consider the fact that many American citizens or their family members are immigrants. Thus, such a qualification is non-democratic in its core. Also, one may argue that psychological evaluation may raise ethical questions and lead to discrimination of individuals having mental illnesses. However, the president is responsible for the whole population’s well-being, which means that it is vital to detect potential deviations that could affect their decisions.
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The current requirements for holding the presidency in the US include some significant points. However, they deprive many American citizens of the chance of becoming a president despite their qualifications. It is possible to conclude that the changes in the requirements are needed; non-natural-born citizens should be allowed to hold the presidency, and candidates should undergo psychological evaluations to prevent potential problems in the future.
U.S. Constitution. Art. II, Sec. 1.
US Department of Defense. DODM 5210.42: Nuclear Weapons Personnel Reliability Program, January 13, 2015, Incorporating Change 1, Effective June 27, 2016. 2015. Web.