The 2016 presidential race was the most unsavory in my memory, which goes back to Eisenhower-Stevenson in 1952. The future remains uncertain. But one thing we can do now is amend the Constitution. And I’m not talking about the Electoral College.
I propose the 28th Amendment: No person may be elected or succeed to the office of President of the United States, who is the husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, former spouse, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law of anyone having served as President regardless of length of term.
Having voted for Hillary Clinton, I’d still have been glad to see the 28th Amendment passed years ago. Now Chelsea is being promoted for Congress. Fine if the party and the voters in her New York district say yes. Groom her for President? What a travesty! The same goes for Donald Trump, Jr. and his siblings.
Granted, a president’s immediate relatives may possess sterling qualities. If so, let them pursue other opportunities to serve the nation. In the (possible) words of Ben Franklin, “If we wanted another King George, we wouldn’t have elected a President George.”
The problem? Members of “royal political families” tend to assume that their name or connection entitles them to office. Somehow they possess inherently favorable genetic characteristics and judgment. Or they’ve soaked up all the qualities needed to effectively hold office just by proximity.
Unfortunately, family members tend to avoid downplaying the progenitor’s mistakes and uphold a carefully crafted image along with what they deem a superior legacy. Political inbreeding advances policies that ignore past mistakes and fail to keep up with changing times while risking downright incompetence.
Why am I concerned? Some Americans believe that Michelle Obama should run against Donald Trump in 2020 or someone in 2024. I think Michelle is terrific. But being First Lady provides no qualification for office. She was never elected to her post in the first place. Some folks may peg Malia and Sasha Obama for future roles in the Oval Office. A name is not enough. And they’re kids!
Trump supporters may push Donald, Jr. for President. (First Lady to-be Melania Trump is a naturalized citizen and ineligible.) Grave responsibilities should rest on broad shoulders, not crowns on heads turned backwards. As for providing son-in-law Jared Kushner with the highest classified security information while the Trump offspring run the family business—that poses a dangerous conflict of interest.
Had this amendment passed decades ago, Bobby Kennedy would not have mounted a run for the 1968 Democratic nomination after Vietnam-war-stressed Lyndon Johnson passed on a second full term. Teddy Kennedy wouldn’t have been a presidential hopeful, either. Fine be me. I’ve had enough of Kennedys. George W. Bush would not have run in 2000, and Jeb would not have run in this year’s primaries. One Bush was enough. In the 2016 election, Bernie Sanders or someone else would have represented the Democrats. The country would have been no worse off and perhaps would face a brighter future.
What are the chances of the 28th amendment passing? Slim. Still, the presidency of the United States is far too important to become a matter of dynasty. And if you’re expecting a clever line to wind this up, forget it. The matter is just that serious.
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The blog will take off for Thanksgiving. May you be thankful for all you have.
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