CLASS NOTES - HAIL TO THE CHIEFS

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On Monday, Feb. 20 we celebrate President’s Day. It is a time to reflect on the achievements of all our presidents and, in particular, wish a happy birthday to George Washington (Feb. 22) and Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12). Many focus on the economic influence of this three-day weekend–a time of special deals and sales, especially on cars. While I can’t tell you which car to purchase, I can offer some erudition learned from the 45 men who have attained the highest office.

Whatever you think about our current or past presidents, there is no refuting it is a difficult post to obtain. The legal requirements are outlined in Section 1 of Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution:

“No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

Hence, if you are 35 or older, were born in America and have lived here for at least 14 years, you’re eligible to run for office. If you want to win, however, you may consider these political pointers.

Consider a law degree. Twenty-seven of the last 45, have been lawyers.

Start raising money–a lot of money! Hillary Clinton’s campaign raised $1.4 billion. That included $595.4 million from the Democratic Party and joint fundraising committees and $204.3 million from Super PACs. President Trump raised $932.3 million, which included $524 million from the Republican Party and joint fundraising committees and $79 million from Super PACs. However, as we have recently discovered, the one with the most money does not always win–nor the one with the most votes.

Get strategic. Popularity is not enough. Hilary Clinton ended up with a surplus of over 2.8 million votes, but Trump received 304 of the 538 Electoral College votes.

Join the military. A whopping 36 presidents have served. From President Harry S. Truman through President George H. W. Bush, every American president served in the military. President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton came of age during the Vietnam War but neither of them participated. Clinton avoided the war by staying in school. He received education deferments while at Georgetown and Oxford. Bush avoided it by joining the National Guard 12 days before losing his student deferment from the draft.

President Obama did not serve in the military. However, he did not have to avoid the draft as it had ended four years before he graduated from high school.

President Trump received five deferments from the military draft during the Vietnam War – one medical and four educational deferments kept him out of the war.

However we feel about past presidents or the current one, we can all agree that the task of Commander-in-Chief is no job for the weak at heart, brain, or pocket book. Once elected, presidents need courage, intelligence and much more to navigate the colossal task of running the country. Perhaps President Lincoln had the right sentiment “...let us neither express, nor cherish, any harsh feeling towards any citizen who, by his vote, has differed with us. Let us at all times remember that all American citizens are brothers of a common country, and should dwell together in the bonds of fraternal feeling.”

Contact Margaret Lavin at elementarydays@gmail.com.