Background Check All Candidates For Federal Office?by Phil on 10/25/2008
As of this date, the only federal case — Berg v. Obama — that has been brought up to challenge Obama’s eligibility is, for the time being, dismissed (though probably far from unchallenged). This brings up the next issue which will probably percolate into the public consciousness:
How Do We Keep This From Happening Again?
If you want to follow the US Constitution, that is going to be difficult to pull off, to say the least. However, we actually have a pretty good checks-and-balances system in place to deal with future candidates.
Allow me to explain.
I had a theory that I thought was pretty good: Why not require all candidates for federal office pursue a background check (say, equivalent of Top Secret clearance, taking between 6 and 8 months to complete) before becoming eligible to run?
Huge problem with this: the Constitution already stipulates what the eligibility requirements are for President, Representative and Senator. To impose further validations of any kind would simply be unconstitutional and, properly, would require an Amendment to be changed.
Does that leave us totally in the dark with respect to potential candidates? No. Practically speaking, the President cannot unilaterally do things like make treaties or formally declare war without the Legislative (Congress) going along with it (granted, there have been numerous times where one Branch has skirted around various instances, but for the purposes of this discussion, let’s go with the present situation at hand). Similarly, a single Representative nor Senator can simply do whatever s/he likes.
And this next one is the biggie: FBI, CIA or DoD briefings are usually kept to a “need-to-know” basis. In the vernacular, we’d say, “Mr./Mrs. Senator/Representative, we’ll give you enough intelligence with which you could rhetorically hang yourself, if you decided to go public or be a traitor.” While I do not have any first-hand knowledge of the way “standard operating procedure” works, I’ve been around enough people to understand that no singular public figure is going to know absolutely everything about every project that any given Department is working.
As a last resort, our dear Founding Fathers were not completely ignorant of such instances, hence the reason why we have complete turnover in the House and partial (one-third) turnover in the Senate every 2 years. Even if Sen. Obama were to become elected as POTUS, the Democrats gained a 60+ (filibuster-proof) majority in the Senate and increased their seats in the House by 10+, they would have between 2008 and 2010 to get as much done as possible before people caught on to one party having too much power on Capitol Hill.
American history bears out the near fact — you could almost bet on it — that when one party gained and attempted to consolidate power throughout the federal government, the very next election saw the American people beginning to put the opposing party in charge of a respective branch of government.
What does all this mean? Simply, we, the people have the ultimate power in what goes on in DC; the governing will always rule how they wish until such time as the governed overturn the power of the governing.