by Thomas L. Knapp…….

In a recent column, I noted that if Oprah Winfrey runs for president in 2020, she will be at least as qualified for the office as the incumbent, Donald Trump, was when he announced his 2016 campaign.

They’re both billionaires of similar net worth — her self-made, him not so much.

They’re both former television personalities — her the long-time host of a top talk show and builder of an attached media empire, him a “reality TV” shock jock. And so on and so forth.

The feedback I’ve received runs from the “no way” of Trump supporters to the “yes way” of Trump haters, with a healthy portion of people who consider neither of the two even remotely qualified for the job and wonder if the world is going crazy.

So, let’s talk about qualifications for the presidency. The US Constitution lists three: A prospective president must be at least 35 years old, be a “natural born citizen” of the United States, and have resided within the US for 14 years.

But, of course, many people want more than just those three things in a president, and I guess I can’t blame them. Unfortunately, what people — at least the people who pick major party presidential nominees — usually seem to want is a sitting or former governor or US Senator (or, occasionally, a victorious general). They want “political experience.”

I disagree. America’s fifty governors and 535 members of Congress seem to constitute the worst possible pool from which to select a president. Their collective record of corruption, incompetence, scandal, etc. is probably an order of magnitude worse than the record of any 585 randomly selected regular Americans. Seldom a day goes by without some politician getting caught with his hand in the till, or texting photos of his junk to random women, while passing monumentally stupid laws and running up $20 trillion in debt.

Secondly, if you think American government is moving in the wrong direction, well, guess who’s been moving it that way? These are the people trying to run our lives, and doing a terrible job of it. Political power attracts narcissists, sociopaths and megalomaniacs.

So, why not change the way we pick the president? I have two ideas, either one or both of which would improve the situation.

First, I suggest a constitutional amendment disqualifying any man or woman who has previously held elected office from running for president. A candidate could run for Congress or governor now or for president later, but not both. That should get rid of a lot of the scheming and opportunism associated with a political “career ladder” leading to the Oval Office.

Secondly — and, yes more severely — why not select the president by lottery? Just draw a random Social Security number, make sure the  person meets the other qualifications, and inaugurate him or her. Short of eliminating the office, random selection of the president seems like the best way to safeguard our liberties from people who want the job  … and who therefore should never be allowed within a mile of it.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.

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  1. What we really need are term limits for all of Congress so that no one will ever support publically another Demented Donald. (I say publically because privately most think he’s an idiot, but they have personal agendas they want to enact thus they kiss his feet in public.)

  2. I do hope your joking on the the method of election.

    As to the 3 requirements me along with millions of others think Obama had only 2

    Do agree we need to make a change and suggest each vote be counted regardless of state they live in. That would be easy today.

    1. “As to the 3 requirements me along with millions of others think Obama had only 2”

      If that’s what you think, then that thing you’re doing that you think is thinking isn’t.

  3. Thomas, Hopefully, I realize that you are at least half-joking around here, but the below article might help to explain why having a lottery to pick our President might not be such a good idea. You probably already know about it, but:

    In a release on Wednesday afternoon, the world’s largest publicly-traded company said it would make a “direct contribution” of $350 billion into the U.S. economy over the next five years.

    The company said this number does not include ongoing tax payments, or tax revenue generated by wages paid to employees or sales tax on Apple products.

    Apple said its capital expenditures, a tax payment due to repatriating overseas profits, and investments in manufacturing in the U.S. will account for $75 billion of its contributions. The company also said it will invest $30 billion to create 20,000 new jobs at existing campuses and will also open a new campus in the U.S.

    Apple CEO Tim Cook. (AP Foto/Matt Dunham)

    “Apple is a success story that could only have happened in America, and we are proud to build on our long history of support for the US economy,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement on Wednesday.

    “We believe deeply in the power of American ingenuity, and we are focusing our investments in areas where we can have a direct impact on job creation and job preparedness. We have a deep sense of responsibility to give back to our country and the people who help make our success possible.”

    Apple’s announcement is the latest in a series of corporate declarations that companies would increase investment following the passage of a tax bill late last year which cuts the corporate tax rate to 21% from 35%. Apple did not, however, announce a special bonus for employees or pledge to increase wages, as many companies have done. The company also did not explicitly mention that its decision was influenced by the passage of last year’s tax bill.

    In 2017, President Donald Trump said that Cook told him the company committed to build three manufacturing plants in the U.S., according to the Wall Street Journal.

    “I spoke to [Tim Cook], he’s promised me three big plants—big, big, big,” Trump said to the Journal.

    “I said you know, Tim, unless you start building your plants in this country, I won’t consider my administration an economic success. He called me, and he said they are going forward.”

    Apple’s announcement Wednesday did not specify how many plants it will build.

    1. Ben,

      I’m not sure what the connection you’re trying to draw here is. I’m happy that the tax bill may partially offset Trump’s protectionist idiocies, but so far as the economy is concerned, he so far seems, when not openly attacking it, to resemble that experiment back in the 80s or 90s where some guy picked stocks by having a monkey throw a dart at the New York Stock Exchange page of the daily newspaper.

      1. While on the campaign trail Donald Trump spoke for months about how companies would bring their overseas money and jobs back to America if he was elected. Then after he was elected and his administration’s Tax Bill passed, Apple announced that they would bring some of their overseas investments/money to America as well as to create American jobs.

        If this can be compared to a monkey throwing darts, then President Trump has pretty good aim.

        1. Yes, Apple has announced that it plans to make electronics more expensive for American consumers. And yes, Trump did campaign on making everything as expensive as possible for American consumers. So fair cop, I guess.

  4. “The US Constitution lists three: A prospective president must be at least 35 years old, be a “natural born citizen” of the United States, and have resided within the US for 14 years.”

    Just maybe they should be required to show proof to even run.

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