COVID and the Constitution: The NYT, Washington Post, and NBC Think! Rejected This But It’s Valid Anyhow

The last several weeks have seen over a million Americans contract the novel Coronavirus and over 60,000 (so far) succumb to the disease and its complications. Refrigerated trucks are being used as morgues, city parks are doubling as graveyards, and funeral homes across the country are on a backlog. Relatives of the many dearly departed, due to social distancing guidelines, are unable to attend the memorial services of the ones they loved and were able to sit in a room with a mere six months ago.

The soul of this nation is already beleaguered with fear and uncertainty. This has been made worse by statements made by President Trump in his daily COVID-19 briefings. Those of us who watch the briefings have witnessed he and the press go at it over everything from his presumed inability to act in a timely manner once he knew about the virus, verifiable statements that he made that he wishes now to deny and “cures” based on unfounded science or completely unsafe ideas akin to a stunt on MTV’s Jackass.

The bright side of this pandemic is that it has caused Americans to seriously take a second and third look at things like Universal Basic Income and Medicare-For-All; also known as socialism. While a dirty word among Conservatives and a dirty idea among moderate Democrats for some time, the sudden economic havoc that Coronavirus has visited on our society has given detractors no choice but to reconsider the capitalist bastion that we had heretofore become accustomed.

Those things are great, but I posit this crisis should also demonstrate the need for us to revisit the Constitution. Many citizens laud the Constitution as the basis upon which the country they deem the greatest on the planet was built, however, it’s the same Constitution that allowed us to be in the midst of a global health crisis under the direction of a president Trump.

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Since the days of Washington, the only requirements for one to be president have been age (at least 35), citizenship, and residency (at least 14 years). There’s no prior political experience required. Prospective candidates don’t need to have shown a certain number of years working in public service. They don’t need proof of so much as a freshman Poli-Sci class. The bare minimum is all it takes to throw one’s hat in the proverbial ring. In President Trump, that’s exactly what we have.

Voters on the left wonder how we ended up with a president who was a reality tv star. For me, Trump having been a reality television star doesn’t actually matter. Him having built questionable businesses, declared (business) bankruptcy, skipped out on checks and the other myriad things he has been accused of don’t rate on my outrage meter either. Not even his lies.

It’s what he didn’t do, and didn’t even have to do, to become the leader of the free world that concerns me. Most of us had to do more to land mediocre jobs right out of college than any president has had to do to be eligible to be considered a valid presidential contender.

When my fellow citizens walk around in a rage about Trump’s presidency, it’s as if they’ve forgotten that this country is unguarded against it by virtue of our failure to revisit and refine the Constitution to meet our current reality. In fact, the gradual leaning towards the bare minimum has come to kick us in the butt in myriad ways of life; education, customer service, even dating.

As long as we are a populace that is content to let charisma do the talking (no matter red, blue, or in between), we’ll always be at risk of having leaders who are not only inept but may not possess the regard for our citizens that is needed to drive the country in the best direction possible.

Not only will enhancing requirements of presidential candidates be more likely to prevent your average camera ham with no public policy experience but his 20-minute speeches on how things ought to be at Thanksgiving every year from being able to try his or her hand at the presidency, it just may bring a sense of honor and pride back to the office.

We’ve made amendments to address the abolition of slavery, presidential succession, and even legal voting age. Surely we can seriously work on amending our standards for the person we call the Commander-in-Chief. It may take some time. In fact, it may never happen. But, we can’t continue a vague process to run for president and automatically expect that the one who is victorious will treat the presidency as a solemn and duty-bound office. Trump’s 2016 campaign, supporters, and administration has proven that.

After all, when you expect little, you can end up getting so much less.