Study Guide

Executive Branch & Presidents - The Presidency

The Presidency

  • Only 3 formal qualifications for presidency: 35 years old, native-born citizen, resident for past 14 years
  • President's duties include: head of state, commander-in-chief of military, chief executive of federal bureaucracy
So, you think you want to be president. First, you need to make sure you meet the qualifications laid out in the Constitution—there are only three. Are you at least 35 years old? Have you lived in the United States for the past fourteen years? Were you born a citizen of the United States? If you can answer yes to all three of these questions, you can be president.

Of course, voters generally demand that a candidate possess more qualifications than these—some intelligence is useful, some relevant experience can be handy. But every now and then, voters seem willing to accept just the basics.

Perhaps the real question is: are you sure you want to be president? The pay is okay ($400,000 in 2008), you do get to live in the White House, and picking up your friends in Air Force One is pretty cool. Oh, and people play "Hail to the Chief" when you walk into the room.

But the job description is outrageous. For starters, the president is "chief of state"; that means he is the ceremonial head of the government. That sounds easy enough. But he is also chief executive and chief administrator. It is the president's job to execute, or implement, all of the nation's laws and treaties, which means the president runs our enormous federal government (about 4 million people, if you count just civil servants, postal workers, and members of the military, but a whopping 14.6 million if you include everyone else working under federal contract or receiving federal grants).blank" rel="nofollow">impeached—removed from office by Congress. That's not easy for Congress to do; impeachment charges have been brought against a sitting president by the House of Representatives (which acts as the prosecutor in impeachment trials) only twice in our history, and in both cases the Senate (which acts as the jury) voted not to convict or remove. But the threat of impeachment does hang over a president's head. And speaking of the president's head, under the 25th Amendment, the president can be removed from office at any time if judged "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office" by the vice president and the majority of the cabinet.

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