By now, everone knows that Hillary Clinton will be giving up her senate seat in New York to become President Obama's Secretary of State. The leading candidate to fill that senate seat at this time is Caroline Kennedy, whose father and two uncles were all United States senators. Personally, I think she would make a great senator.
But recently, there have been some people who are saying Kennedy is not qualified to be a senator. That got me to thinking, just what are the qualifications to become a United States senator? So I went to the source -- the United States Constitution. Here is what the Constitution says about the qualifications to be in the senate:
"No person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen."
It seems that there are only three simple qualifications a person must meet to be qualified to be a senator. Is she at least 30 years-old? Yes, she was born on November 27, 1957 and is currently 51 years-old. Has she been a United States citizen for at least 9 years? Yes, she has been a citizen for over 51 years. Is she an inhabitant of New York state? Yes, she has lived in New York since the mid-1960's.
That settles the matter of "is she qualified". The Constitution says she is qualified. So what do those people mean who say she is not qualified? Are they talking about experience? Frankly, I find it refreshing that she is not another career politician -- one of those people who have spent their entire life climbing the political career ladder from one office to another.
I think that is one thing that is wrong with our political system. It is populated by far too many career politicians -- people who have forgotten (or never knew) what it is like to have to actually work for a living. People who are so caught up in a political philosophy, that they have forgotten that the essence of politics is to better the lives of ordinary citizens.
I believe our forefathers intentionally left experience out of the qualifications they laid out for our elected officials when they wrote the Constitution. They wanted the elected offices to be open to ordinary citizens -- not career politicians. I think they were right to do that, but too often today many citizens seem to think our government is so complicated that only career politicians can comprehend it and effectively legislate.
That is just not true. Kennedy is a very intelligent person, and any intelligent person can locate and use the right people to educate them on anything they are not already familiar with. But she is not completely without experience. Kennedy has a law degree and has written books on civil rights. She has been active in charitable work and has raised a family.
Is Caroline Kennedy a career politician? No. Is she qualified and experienced? Absolutely!