Being director of security at a rock concert could be a tough job, but it doesn’t qualify you to be president. Neither does being a mayor.
Having a law degree also isn’t a qualification if you are ready, willing and able to violate the law or ignore the Constitution.
Being a soldier and POW also isn’t a qualification for being president, or even for designing military strategies.
Being a person of faith is also not a qualification, especially if you are willing to break with that faith when political "necessity" requires that you do so.
Being pro-life is also not a qualification, especially if you admit to being willing, if not eager, to send additional living, breathing, walking, talking, already graduated from high school lives into harm’s way to be killed unnecessarily.
Declaring your willingness to use torture is also not a qualification for office. It’s merely a sign of desperation, injustice, and a failure to understand that torture has never and will never work to achieve political goals.
Is being willing to go to any length, to do everything possible, or to take extreme measures to achieve political goals a sign of a good candidate? No, it is a sign that the person has no respect for constitutionally limited government, has no notion of the limitations of the office (or of government in general), and is a dangerous extremist.
What are the types of qualifications for the job of President of the United States? What should we ask of the next president?
First of all the candidate should have full respect for the U.S. Constitution, which is the governing document for our society. This respect should be backed up by action. Let us ask how and in which ways the person acted to defend the Constitution. What has the candidate done that would indicate a full understanding of the Constitution and the limits it places on the role of government?
Second, the candidate should have demonstrated a consistent record of being a good steward, particularly with respect to money, taxes, and balancing the budget.
Third, the candidate should have a demonstrated record of understanding the meaning of America as a country where people have rights against which the government has no right to impose.
Finally, America’s "great presidents" have ruled during times of great calamity and massive death. Think of Lincoln, Wilson, and FDR. You can admire these men if you wish, but no sane person really wants to relive such "greatness," so we’d like a "good" president that will keep us out of future wars. What candidate has demonstrated that he would work hard to keep us out of future wars?
Mark Thornton [send him mail] is an economist who lives in Auburn, Alabama. He is author of The Economics of Prohibition, is a senior fellow with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and is the Book Review Editor for the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. He is co-author of Tariffs, Blockades, and Inflation: The Economics of the Civil War and is the editor of The Quotable Mises.