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Election Year 2016: President's Job Description And Line Of Succession To Office

Updated on March 21, 2016
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish has 30 years' experience in medicine, psychology, STEM instruction, history, and aerospace education for USAF Civil Air Patrol.

President John F. Kennedy speaking before the US Congress. V.P. Lyndon Johnson is on the upper left.
President John F. Kennedy speaking before the US Congress. V.P. Lyndon Johnson is on the upper left. | Source

Mothers all want their sons to grow up to be president, but they don't want them to become politicians in the process.

— US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

POTUS: President of the United States of America

The office of President of the United States (POTUS) of America requires outstanding skills in business, research, communications, diplomacy, direction and management, forecasting, and several others. The campaign towards this office requires millions of dollars and the skills to use that money to one's best advantage.

Such a campaign also requires that the Candidate be very visible and effective in producing positive changes toward increasing the quality of life for the most people in America. several nations. He would be successful in that as well.

The White House Can Be a Stormy Place

The White House, Washington DC
The White House, Washington DC | Source

In America, any child can grow up to be elected President.

— American Proverb

Who Can Handle the Responsibilities of Campaining and Serving?

Among potential Candidates for the next POTUS that can handle all of the responsibilities and requirements for gaining and maintaining that office, several appear to have positive potential and the highest visibility.

These were in 2008, Al Gore, Rudy Guliani, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Fred Thompson. They all lost and some ran again, with Hillary Clinton a doubtful candidate for the 2016 contest as well.

In 2012, we had the incumbent, President Barack Obama, pitted against Mitt Romney and a half-dozen other Republicans that fell by the wayside.

Protests occurred at both GOP and DEM conventions that year and GOP Ron Paul supporters walked out when their candidate's won votes for the nomination were ignored.

Many films have been produced about the office of the President and they all have provided some material for consideration, whether they were dramas or comedies. I am going to be re-watching them as the campaigning for the next POTUS proceeds. The Party National Conventions should be most interesting as well.

From a workforce development point of reference, let's look at the qualifications and additional requirements for Al Gore, or other potential contenders to attain and maintain the office of President of the United States of America.

Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.

— General (ret.) Colin Powell, who refused to run
Seal of the USA
Seal of the USA | Source

If nominated, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve.

— Union Army General William Tecumseh Sherman

The Job Of POTUS Is Not For Everyone

Al Gore in 2008 stated that he felt that he did. not want to run for the US Presidency, but that with his visibility and skills, he could make a successful run.

The price one pays out of one's privacy and energy might be a deterrent to doing so. Other individuals have refused to run for POTUS, including former US Army General and Secretary of State Collin Powell. Mr. Powell did not want expose his family to a lack of privacy.

I recall a Nigerian judge that played a major role in writing the 1989 Constitution of the nation became discouraged with politics as usual and some events and circumstances that he could not tolerate personally in his integrity and honor. Saddened, he retired and went home to his own community. Where things made sense, as opposed to a state of affairs that bring to mind a title: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. (Judge Aniagolu once said that the moment a court ceases to do justice in accordance with law and procedures laid down for it, it ceases to be a regular court to become a kangaroo court.)

Mr. Gore may have felt in 2008 that he could better serve on the Presidential Cabinet as Secretary of Energy or as a US Ambassador to one of several nations. AS it turned out, he spent much time advocating for controlling what he felt to be runaway, destructive climate change.


How Much Is The President Paid?

Official POTUS Compensation Package:

Annual salary of $400,000 (subject to income tax)

Annual expense account:

  • $100,000 for travel (nontaxable),
  • $19,000 for official entertainment (nontaxable),
  • $50,000 for other costs arising from official duties (nontaxable),

Free living and office space in Washington, D.C.,

Retinue of administrative assistants,

Large kitchen staff,

Secret Service bodyguards,

Free getaway outside the DC Beltway (Camp David).

Private jet,



Retirement Pension of approximately $300,000 a year after leaving the White House. This can be supplemented by book deals and personal appearances.

Who Is The President Do And What Does He/She Do?

Job Description: President of the United States

Required Qualifications for Candidates for POTUS

  • The Candidate for President must be at least 35 years old.
  • The Candidate for President must be a natural-born citizen.
  • The Candidate for President must have lived in the United States for at least 14 years.

Process of election to the office of POTUS

In order to be elected to the office of President of the United States, a Candidate must win the majority of votes in the Electoral College. First, legally registered US voters must vote in the Presidential Election, which occurs every 4 years. These legally registered Americans vote in what is known as the "popular vote", or a vote of the general US population, for US President every four years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Future election years will be 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020, etc.

The November election's "popular vote" in reality elects Representative Delegates to the Electoral College. The popular vote does not directly elect the US President. The Electoral College then meets and officially elects the US President in December of the same election year. Therefore, The US President is chosen by the Delegates to the Electoral College, which should reflect the popular vote. Rarely, there is a difference. IN recent years, there have also been re-counts of votes in certain states.

Official Term of Office of The POTUS

Four years. The US President may serve no more than two terms, or 8 years. The only way in which to serve longer is for someone in line for the US Presidency, say the Vice President, to take over the office during the US President's term (because of death, illness, or termination from the office), and then to be re-elected twice.

Official Job Description And Job Duties Of The US President

In the US Constitution, the President of the United State is delegated two major functions:

1) Chief Executive of the US Federal Government.

The POTUS enforces laws, and court decisions, and treaties; develops federal policies; prepares the National Budget; and appoints federal officials, and fulfills other duties listed below.

2) Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces.

The POTUS may assign troops to combat, and is the only person who can decide to use nuclear weapons. The US Armed Services include:

  • US Army (USA)
  • US Air Force (USAF)
  • US Marine Corps (USMC)
  • US Navy (USN)
  • US Coast Guard (USCG)
  • US Merchant Marine (USMM)
  • The US National Guard and Reserves of all branches

The Joint Chiefs of Staff report to the POTUS on the status and activities of each branch of the US Armed Services and advise him, especially during times of defense crises, along with the Secretary of Defense.

Additional Job Assignments

3) Chief Legislator

4) Chief Diplomat

5) Head of the Party

6) Manager of Prosperity

This title "Manager of Prosperity" was established by the political scientist Clinton Rossiter. He wrote The American Presidency The President must maintain a solvent economy and an overall good standard of living in a secure, affordable environment for the people of America. Management of the economy was deliberately focused in Congress by the Constitution. The only way that the President has gained power in this area is through the need for faster, unified responses to economic problems.


  • Choose cabinet members, Supreme Court Judges, Ambassadors, members of the Presidential Cabinet, Senior Officials in the federal bureaucracy, and Federal Judges.
  • Fill vacancies in the Senate if they occur during a recess.
  • Can convene and adjourn both Houses of Congress.
  • Command the armed forces of the country
  • Meet with leaders of foreign countries
  • Make treaties with foreign countries
  • Propose new laws
  • Sign bills into law and veto bills
  • Protect and defend the laws of the United States
  • Pardon criminals
  • Report to Congress once a year
  • Can assume emergency powers if Congress consents, by the National Emergencies Act 1976. This means that The POTUS can, in such an emergency:
    • Impose martial law
    • Suspend Habeas Corpus
    • Stockpile strategic supplies like food, water, oil, etc.
    • Fix wages/prices
    • Apply censorship
    • Restrict travel

Less formal duties:

  • Influence foreign affairs, because of the importance of the American role globally.
  • Control of the executive branch of government.
  • Media presence. Can focus the media on political and public issues.
  • Act as Head of the Party, but not in as strong an influence as in communist and other countries.

Presidential Work History

Past Presidents' Work Experience

The POTUS must have a good work ethic.

Most US Presidents have worked in one of four career fields, much like a take on old nursery rhyme:

Lawyer, Soldier, Farmer, Chief

There have been

  • 24 Lawyers (e.g. Abraham Lincoln, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama),
  • 6 Farmers, 5 Soldiers (e.g. George Washington, U.S. Grant. D.D. Eisenhower, J.F.K.),
  • 3 Authors or journalists,
  • 2 Business owners,
  • 2 Educators,
  • 1 Civil Engineer,
  • 1 Tailor (Andrew Johnson),
  • 1 Actor (Ronald Reagan); and
  • 1 Store Clerk. (Lincoln).

Some had more than one career. Most have served in some other governmental capacity before election as POTUS.

Presidential Work Histories to 2004

Whistle Stop Campaigning still works.
Whistle Stop Campaigning still works. | Source

Will You Vote?

Presidential Campaigns Past - 1960
Presidential Campaigns Past - 1960

Just for Fun

Succession to the Office of the US Presidency

If a president dies, resigns, is disabled, or is impeached, and removed from office, the Vice President assumes the office for the remainder of the current term of office. This has occurred nine times in US history, the most recent being the Ford Administration, taking over for the Nixon Administration after the Viet Nam Conflict and the Watergate Scandal.

After the Vice President, the succession proceeds according to the following chain of command:

  1. Speaker of the House of Representatives
  2. President of the Senate pro tempore
  3. Secretary of State
  4. Secretary of the Treasury
  5. Secretary of Defense
  6. Attorney General
  7. Secretary of the Interior
  8. Secretary of Agriculture
  9. Secretary of Commerce
  10. Secretary of Labor
  11. Secretary of Health and Human Services
  12. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
  13. Secretary of Transportation
  14. Secretary of Energy
  15. Secretary of Education
  16. Secretary of Veterans Affairs
  17. Secretary of Homeland Security

It is interesting that Secretary of Homeland Security is last on the last on the list.

© 2007 Patty Inglish MS


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