The office of President of the United States of America was never supposed to be an easy position to ascertain. The Founding Fathers went to great lengths when they met in Philadelphia to establish a system that would ensure no man would have the ability to be elected who was not in the best interests of the United States. The electoral college system - a check on the impulsive voters of the newly formed nation - the age requirement, the citizenship clause and, a final check, the impeachment provisions, all guarantee that the best possible person will hold the office. In modern times, the demands on any presidential candidate have changed greatly. In the early years, if a candidate wanted a chance at serving as the constitutional President, he, yes he, would have had to either been involved in the revolution or in the writing of the Constitution itself. In the year 2000, a presidential candidate will have a totally different set of difficulties to face. Fund raising and sound-bytes, primaries and public appearances, conventions and the campaign trail have become the giant steps on the road to the White House. The great paradox, however, is that the skills and talents needed to be elected are very different from the expertise needed to govern the richest and most powerful nation in the world.
What will be required of a presidential candidate in the year 2000 if he or she wants to be elected ? First, he or she will need to be at least thirty-five years of age. Though there is no age maximum for a President, older candidates tend to have less appeal with the American people and more emphasis is placed on their Vice Presidential candidate with the assumption that the candidate, if elected, would die in office. Second, he or she must be a natural born American citizen. Third, a candidate will need to receive 270 electoral votes to be elected. The three criteria above are the official, Constitutional requirements for a person to be elected to the Presidency. The modern day, unofficial requirements are much more difficult for a candidate to meet. According to Cronin and Genovese , a candidate has ten additional challenges to face, not including an opponent from the opposite or multiple other parties. The ability to raise money, some form of name recognition, having a favorable relationship with the press, travelling to major states, speaking engagements are all key to securing a national election.
Fundraising has become the single most important element in the election process. Campaign fundraising for an upcoming election begins as soon as a current election has ended and, on the presidential scale, is a four-year project. Contributions from corporations, private citizens, special interest groups, lobbyists and from China are all used by a political party to fund a presidential campaign. From a purely economic standpoint, it seems ridiculous to spend $61.8 million in government funds alone to be elected to an office that, at its absolute most, will pay only $1.6 million. However, the power and influence an Administration will have is seen as more than worth the expense. A first term President still needs to be adept at raising funds, especially if he sees himself running for and winning a second term. Second term Presidents often use their office to continue to raise funds for their party’s congressional elections. The need to raise money, however, is not a skill needed in governing our nation.
Public speaking is a skill that is necessary for a year 2000 candidate and has also become a requirement for a President. In our age of media, every word a candidate or President utters is recorded somewhere and broadcast in to millions of homes around the world. Ronald Reagan, dubbed the great communicator, was one of the best public speakers the Presidency has ever seen. In the campaign of 1980, Reagan gave impassioned speeches around the nation proclaiming that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem”. He used his communications skills to speak to every American and to appeal to the sense of optimism that all Americans have. Even the great orators of Presidential past, like Lincoln or the Roosevelts , would have struggled with the intrusive media that