How would you disqualify another demagogue like Donald Trump from becoming president?
I’d set three conditions.
1. To ensure that the candidate knows the basics of American government:
A grade of at least 80% on the test that the Department of Homeland Security gives to prospective citizens.
2. To give the candidate a grounding in public service:
At least four years of full-time government service, civilian or military. (Why four years? It’s the length of a presidential term. Seems as good a span as any.)
3. To ensure that the candidate is fiscally honest and has the fewest possible financial conflicts of interest:
Full financial disclosure, including income taxes, for the most recent four years.
In addition, some people have favored abolishing the electoral college. Trump won in 2016 because he got more electoral college votes than Hillary Clinton, even though she got more of the popular vote. Abolish the college, they say, and you abolish the chance of getting another Trump.
I’m not so sure. Another Trump type more skilled at politics could come along and sweep the popular vote. Donald got more than 60 million votes despite the sexist “grab ’em by the pussy” tape and other controversies that depressed his polling. Imagine how well a smarter version of Trump could do.
Some people want candidates to take a test of general intelligence or psychological fitness. But determining intelligence or mental health is too complex and vague for me. I prefer something that you can evaluate more surely and precisely.
And others suggest that candidates promise to put their investments and businesses in a blind trust. Unfortunately, candidates can easily break promises after becoming president.
No, I think my three conditions could work. I’ll admit that they might require a constitutional amendment. I don’t know; I’m not a constitutional lawyer. But I think we should do something to prevent another Trump.
But enough about me. What conditions would you place on candidates?