Should candidates for president be required to have military service?

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A Call for a Critical Change

Throughout the vast majority of these United States a person wanting to legally operate a motor vehicle must be at least 16 years of age and demonstrate that he or she can safely operate a motor vehicle on the streets. Now in all truth 16 does seem a bit young but allowing even young people easy access to transportation is a good cause and over all that approach seems to be working fine.

At the age of 18 years any American citizen can enter into a legally binding contract and they can even volunteer to join the military, run off to some far off exotic and land and get killed. Our law presumes that such truly life changing decisions can be rationally made by any man or woman at age 18.  Yet while it is okay to join the military and take on all of the risks associated therewith you can not legally enjoy a nice cold beer.  Nope to do that you most be at least 21 years of age. Huh?

(Ron Irwin)

Laws all over the world set out legally mandated requirements for a vast array of circumstances. This is an important, actually essential, part of every form of government because it is very much in our best interest to assure that only those truly qualified can take on activities and positions of responsibility. Which brings me to the Constitutionally mandated requirements to become the President of the United States. Article Two in part imposes these requirements:

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

It also set out the process requiring being elected not solely by the popular vote but also vis-à-vis the Electoral College. While that too deserves further consideration my focus here is on the basic qualifications to become President of the United States, which are A: Be a citizen and B: Be at least 35 years of age — that’s it.

Now ponder this for a moment. The President is also the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. military yet he or she is not required to have knowledge of, or experience with, the military. An Army general or Navy admiral can never become a general or admiral simply by winning an election. His or her job has enormous responsibilities that require years of training and actual hands on experience. Yet the general and Admiral’s boss can be, and often is, a person with zero military experience? How does that make any sense whatsoever? Can you think of any other job in our world with such enormous responsibility and yet can be given to an otherwise totally unqualified person who is at least 35 years old and knows how to win votes?

F-22 Raptor (Tim Forkes)

The Commander-in-Chief can and does make many decisions that often result in sending American men and women into harm’s way for a wide variety of reasons, some valid others not so valid. The Commander-in-Chief can also make decisions with respect to the use of American military power that could in extreme circumstances even cause the collapse of our nation.

Yet with all of that responsibility there is absolutely no requirement that the Commander-in-Chief have any actual military experience whatsoever. Would you let any 35-year-old or older person with zero medical experience operate on your brain just because he or she won an election?

I propose a Constitutional amendment that would add just one other requirement for qualification to be President of the United States and that one additional requirement would be:

No person shall be eligible to be President of the United States of America unless, in addition to the existing requirements such person also have a minimum of at least two years of activity duty service in at least one branch of the military of the United States of America. 

That is still a very long way from the experience of a General or Admiral but it is a vast improvement over the current total lack of experience now allowed. I am confident such a change would make for a far better pool of prospective Presidential candidates regardless of political party affiliation.

USS Midway Museum
(Tim Forkes)

Top photo of the USS Carl Vinson and USS Nimitz at North Island, CA by Tim Forkes