Should the Constitution require that presidents have experience in the business world?

Surprisingly little attention has been paid to a suggestion Mitt Romney made the other day:

 I’d like to have a provision in the Constitution that in addition to the age of the president and the citizenship of the president and the birth place of the president being set by the Constitution, I’d like it also to say that the president has to spend at least three years working in business before he could become president of the United States.

HERE‘s Timothy Egan’s reaction:

Well, there goes Teddy Roosevelt, the writer, rancher and police commissioner, not to mention his distant cousin Franklin Roosevelt, the assistant naval secretary and politician, or Dwight Eisenhower, the career soldier. Ike’s résumé, which includes defeating the world’s most concentrated form of evil in Nazi Germany, would not be not enough to qualify him for the presidency.

Romney has made business experience the main reason to elect him. Without his business past or his projections of business future, there is no there there. But history shows that time in the money trade is more often than not a prelude to a disastrous presidency. The less experience in business, the better the president.

In a scholarly ranking of great presidents, a 2009 survey conducted by C-Span,6 of the 10 best leaders lacked sufficient business experience to be president by Romney’s rumination. This list includes Ronald Reagan, the actor, union activist and corporate spokesman, and John F. Kennedy, the naval officer, writer and politician. There is one failed businessman on the list of great presidents, the haberdasher Harry S. Truman.

By contrast, two 20th century businessmen — George W. Bush, whose sweetheart deal with the Texas Rangers made him a multimillionaire, and Herbert Hoover, who came by his mining fortune honestly — were ranked among the worst presidents ever by the same historians. Bush left the country in a sea of debt and an economic crisis rivaled only by the one that engulfed Hoover.



  1. Luke Fredrickson

    A better constitutional filter would be excluding candidates who have not spent significant time working for the public good. Didn’t the 2007-08 financial crisis teach us that the aims and tactics of big business do not align – and often dangerously conflict – with the greater national interest?

  2. Neftali

    Amending the Constitution to make business experience mandatory is a really dumb idea. Plus “business experience” can be interpreted to so many different ways. The whole notion is absurd.

    I do hope that Democrats continue to bring up the issue about Romney’s record with job creation in Massachusetts. It only proves that a blue state with a legislature full of Democratic majorities, combined with passage of health care reform in “RomneyCare” is very bad for job growth.

    If anything, we should have learned from Romney’s tenure as governor as a model of what not to do. Yet we followed that model during Obama’s turn in office, and as for this morning’s numbers, unemployment is still at 8.2% Meanwhile Romney recently stated he would bring unemployment back under 6%, like it was during the Bush years, if he has a Republican majority to work with. Sounds good to me.

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