General Question

Mariah's avatar

Should the spouses of former presidents be banned from running for president?

Asked by Mariah (18401 points ) July 12th, 2011

I am in the midst of an argument about this on another site.

Their view is that, if a president has already served his two term limit, his spouse should be banned for running from president because the former president might influence his spouse and thus extend his reign past the legal limits from “behind the scene.”

My view is that until we have evidence of this taking place, we shouldn’t go imposing any new eligibility clauses on presidential hopefuls.

What’s your view?

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28 Answers

wilma's avatar

I agree with you.

Neurotic_David's avatar

If we want to elect Hillary Clinton President, that’s out prerogative as the electorate. Don’t assume we’re dumb and pass a law to protect ourselves from our stupidity.

missingbite's avatar

To think that a spouse doesn’t influence opinion is crazy. However, that shouldn’t stop a spouse from holding office.

atomicmonkey's avatar

My wife tells me that women are perfectly capable of making their own decisions and expressing their own opinions.

I told her to say this, but she has a point!

Blackberry's avatar

Nope, I’m with you.

marinelife's avatar

Why? They are different people.

Aethelflaed's avatar

While I believe that spouses do, of course, influence things, I don’t think we should create a law prohibiting their spouses from running. It unfairly punishes the spouse for being married to someone who did something. That’s not to say that I would necessarily vote for that candidate, but rather that I cannot find that law justifiable. And really, there’s no chance a candidate would get far into the race if they didn’t seem like the type of person who could say “great opinion, honey, but I think we’re going to do it another way”.

Kayak8's avatar

There have been a number of cases when Senators and other elected officials have died and their wives take over and finish the term . . .

WestRiverrat's avatar

Woodrow Wilson’s wife is thought to have run the presidency while he was recovering from a severe stroke in 1919.

I think the last couple of presidents, the wives would have been better choices anyway. Let them run if they want to.

lillycoyote's avatar

No. Of course not. Why? No one should be banned from running for president except as outlined in the Constitution already. I don’t like fooling around with the constitution too much.

Maybe the children of former presidents should be banned from running for president. I don’t think I could handle another Bush and there are at least a couple more of them slithering around in the grass somewhere.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I disagree with their view, and I don’t understand yours, if the discussion is regarding US presidency elections..

My view is that until we have evidence of this taking place (the former president might influence his spouse and thus extend his reign past the legal limits from “behind the scene.”), we shouldn’t go imposing any new eligibility clauses on presidential hopefuls.

Are you saying that, for example, if Hillary and Bill Clinton end up back in The White House while she is President, that we should consider passing a new rule if Hillary messes up? If so, I don’t agree with that either.

dabbler's avatar

@lillycoyote I was going to mention something about offspring but you beat me to it!

But basically I’d say each person is their own person and can be elected independently.

Yet while we’re at it we should consider making sure that presidential candidates are natural born persons, not the corporation kind.
Either that or Next Up: Google vs. Monsanto for president !

CWOTUS's avatar

Even as little as I would care to see Hillary Clinton in the White House (in the Oval Office, that is), I think this is a bad, bad idea.

Next thing you know, we’d be preventing presidential offspring from being President, and then where would we be?

tinyfaery's avatar

That’s just stupid. A marriage does not mesh two people into one. Any individual born in this country, of a certain age, without criminal convictions can run for president.

The fact that people even think this really bemuses me.

Jeruba's avatar

If a candidate is eligible according to the law of the land, he or she is eligible. We don’t go around inventing new rules to address specific cases. That’s bad law.

I once served on a nominating committee of an organization small enough so that the pool of potential officers was very limited. When I accepted the appointment, I asked the appointing officer, “What if my husband wants to run?” and he said “That’s fine—no problem.” In fact he did want to run, and so I abstained from any committee discussion and voting whatsoever that affected him. The committee chair happened to be in the same situation—spouse wanting to run for office—and did the same. I’ll testify that it was scrupulously honest and above board.

However, another candidate in the same election—unopposed, as it happened—took exception to that occurrence and got a ruling passed that no nominating committee could nominate the spouse of a committee member.

Ok, fair enough if that’s how they feel. And it’s not as if we hadn’t asked.

That same officer subsequently chaired a nominating committee and put her son-in-law up as a candidate. And of course other relationships were represented as well: live-in partner, father-daughter, etc. How close is too close?

How about father-son?

Perhaps we should make a law first that says no son of a former president can become president.

And then where do you stop? Sibling? grandchild? niece or nephew? how about secret lover?

As soon as we stop looking at the candidate’s qualifications and start looking at personal relationships we are in for a world of trouble.

Dammit, @Was,—uh @CWOTUS, you beat me again.

SpatzieLover's avatar

No. It makes no sense. Then we’d have someone calling for a law that no siblings could run for Presidency. No matter what people think, these are individual people.

If my husband had been President and I wanted to run, I can assure you if I won, my leadership would be completely different.

CWOTUS's avatar

@Jeruba we were both beaten on this tack, and early on in the thread.

But it’s okay, you got three times the lurve for it, per expectations.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

@Neurotic_David We are not the electorate. We vote, but the electoral college is the electorate.

lillycoyote's avatar

@Jeruba, I believe I beat both you and @CWOTUS to it!

lillycoyote's avatar

And @CWOTUS beat me to pointing out that you’d both been beaten to it. Damn he’s fast.

Mariah's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Not so much “if Hillary messes up” but if it becomes apparent that former presidents ARE in fact getting a “third term” via their spouses, then we might consider enacting this law. Till then, I think the argument is mostly based on speculation and simply designed with the intention of keeping Hillary out of the oval office.

CWOTUS's avatar

Not that speed is all it’s cracked up to be sometimes.

filmfann's avatar

I can’t think of a President who didn’t have some differences of opinion with his First Lady.
And I really think Eleanor Roosevelt would have kicked ass as a President.

rooeytoo's avatar

Nope and I think if Hillary had gotten in, the country would be well on its way to recovery.

roundsquare's avatar

I think @Jeruba has it spot on, where do we draw the line?

Maybe there is an answer to that question that makes sense. If we can come up with a set of criteria for “president getting a third term” that is (reasonably) objective and (reasonably) accurate then we can begin discussing if its worth using this to prevent people from running. Otherwise, we’re just making shit up as we go along.

@Aethelflaed I’m not sure fairness is really that big an issue here. Term limits serve a much bigger purpose so if someone can find real evidence that certain relationships between current and former presidents really would compromise this purpose, I think it might be worth it (though, of course, that puts me on another slippery slope which I’ll avoid for the time being via my paragraph above).

That being said, I see where your friend is coming from. We shouldn’t blame him/her for not having a complete answer to the question right away.

bob_'s avatar

In an established democracy like the U.S., no.

In other countries where elections are not as transparent.. I’d have my doubts.

BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

I agree with you. I don’t have a doubt that if (God Forbid) Hillary Clinton wins the election Bill Clinton will be the one running the show. Why do people who have lived in the White House for eight years not want to go back to private life and enjoy their later years. She would be 70 and him even older. The reason? POWER

WestRiverrat's avatar

@BeenThereSaidThat Why do you think Bill will be running the show this time. I thought Hillary ran it the last time.

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