The author of this post is Melissa Schonberger.
In the analysis of Federalist opinion, it is apparent that they believed elites should be leading the government. In their minds, elites were more educated on societal issues, had higher education and were therefore more intelligent and were capable of making sound decisions for the good of the public. Though the Constitution only gives three requirements for presidential nominees which include age, residency in the U.S. and citizenship status, the wishes of the Federalists for the government to be headed by elites have been handed down as unwritten law through the years concerning the candidates for Presidency. Looking at the educational background of the past presidents and the current presidential nominees, it is unquestionable that they fall in the category of elite. Most held a bachelor’s degree and many also attained law degrees. Despite the elite status attained by the presidents and current presidential candidates in their educational background, the status quo for their behavior has come to campaigns in which both candidates relentlessly hurl insults toward the other. The question is has the elite nature of the leaders of our nation the Federalists so greatly treasured dwindled? And should there be higher standards in regards to behavioral conduct over this elite status?
Currently around a third of the population holds a bachelor’s degree, though that may seem like a large number it is still considered a characteristic of an elite. This was held in even higher esteem in decades past. In examining the education of past presidents, 34 out of the 44 presidents earned at least a college degree (Tilus, 2013). Many attended Ivy League schools and several went on to attend law school with a few attending graduate business school. Beyond this education, many became school presidents, school trustees or governors and faculty members at esteemed universities. The current presidential candidates have similarly impressive academic credentials to their predecessors. Hillary Clinton attended Wellesley College, went on to attend Yale Law School where she met her future husband Bill Clinton and then moved to Arkansas where she joined the faculty of Arkansas Law School (Patrick, 2016). Donald Trump attended Fordham University for two years and later transferred to the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania from which he graduated with a degree in economics (A&E, 2016). Their Ivy League educations set them up for immense professional success. They both were no doubt members of the elite class as they transitioned into their professional careers and into the political realm.
In looking at the backgrounds of the current presidential candidates, there is little question that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are intelligent, highly educated Ivy Leaguers with all of the potential to successfully lead a nation. From their credentials, they seem to be the epitome of the type of elite that the Federalists would have hand-picked to run their government. This assumption gets a little blurred when we being to speak about behavioral conduct. Hillary Clinton has been under FBI investigation concerning leaked emails and Donald Trump has been allegedly tied to Vladimir Putin and the recent Russian hacking of the DNC emails. In addition to their own scandals, Clinton and Trump have consistently been hurling insults at each other throughout the duration of their campaigns, which have reached every media and social media channel. The point of having elites in the most powerful seats of the government is that they are supposed to be highly intelligent, highly educated and able to make sound decisions for the good of the public. It is hard to believe that these two candidates hold Ivy League degrees and have achieved such immense professional success with behavior like this. An even more surprising point is that Abraham Lincoln, who is considered a president of high integrity had the least formal education of all of the presidents. It could be argued that there should be a shift in these elitist standards in favor of higher emphasis on integrity and a clean conduct record. Perhaps this shift in thinking would produce presidential candidates with equally impressive resumes in addition to high moral standards rather than individuals who feel the need to insult each other at every opportunity.
“Donald Trump Biography.” Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, 4 Aug. 2016. Web. 18 Sept. 2016.
Patrick, Jeanette. “Hillary Rodham Clinton.” National Women’s History Museum. National Women’s History Museum, 2016. 18 Sep. 2016.
Tilus, Grant. “Rasmussen College.” U.S. Presidents with College Education: From Learners to Leaders. N.p., 24 Apr. 2013. Web. 18 Sept. 2016.