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View Full Version : Why are US presidental canditates chosen among senators and governors ?



Maciamo
Oct 12, 2004, 17:27
That question may seem very stupid, but why are US presidental canditates (usually) chosen from the Senate or from (former), governors, vice-presidents or secretaries, and not from members of the House of Representatives ?

Brooker
Oct 12, 2004, 17:42
I think the easy answer is that they're the next highest ranks down from the president.

Maciamo
Oct 12, 2004, 18:01
I think the easy answer is that they're the next highest ranks down from the president.

Well, I thought that members of the House of Representatives had much more power than Senators (or Governors, as it's at a federal level). In most countries the Senate, or Upper House, has vitually no power and only double-check decisions made by the Lower House. I thought it was like that in the US too.

EDIT :

OK, I found a list of political careers of US presidents (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._Presidents_by_political_occupation) and it appears that Nixon, Kennedy, Johnson, Ford and Bush Sr were all Members of the H.of R., although Nixon, Kennedy and Johnson became Senators, Bush went to the CIA, and all 5 but Kennedy became Vice-presidents before being elected presidents.

Nevertheless, I haven't found a single president in the 20th century elected directly from a position of Member of the H.of R. Why ?

DoctorP
Oct 12, 2004, 19:51
I think that the answer lies in accountability. There is only one Governor per state while there are also only two Senators per state. Eight states have only one Representative in the House (as do US Territories) but most States have several representatives. That shows the amount of accountability a Senator has (again I speaking of most states)...meaning that they have several more people to answer too.

Governors run the entire state, so basically they do the same job as the President although on a smaller scale.

Bottom line now that I think about it is it comes down to popularity and how well you are known. If you are a Representative, I think that you would have to be extremely active (or maybe from a political family?) in order to get your name known well enough in the political community in order to compete for the Presidency.

cicatriz esp
Oct 13, 2004, 11:15
Members of the US Senate have much more power that members of the House. As stated above, there are strictly 2 Senators for each state, but the number of House members depends on the population of the state.

Maciamo
Oct 13, 2004, 11:36
Members of the US Senate have much more power that members of the House. As stated above, there are strictly 2 Senators for each state, but the number of House members depends on the population of the state.

Your last sentence doesn't explain that they have more power, except for the higher percentage of vote. What I meant by power is the power of the house of senate themselves. Don't they have specific roles ? In most European countries and Japan, the Lower House makes most of the decisions, propose and pass most of the new laws, while the Upper House (Senate) only double-check their decision and very rarely propose laws of its own. In other words, the Upper House is usually seen as a honorific place for semi-retiree politicians. In the UK, the equivalent of the Senate is the House of Lords, which is not even elected (just hereditary titles put them there). It used to be the same in Japan until 1945. Lots of small European monarchies still give a post of Senator to Royal Princes, and about 1/3 of the Senators are appointed rather than elected. That explains why it is more of an honorific organ.

Mike Cash
Oct 13, 2004, 15:34
It has nothing whatsoever to do with who has more power or less power. It has everything to do with name/character recognition on a national level and the ability to put together a campaign.

Since there are 100 senators and 435 representatives, it is just naturally easier for a given senator to gain name recognition on a national level than it is for a representative. Also, senators run for office on a state-wide basis, while representatives only have to campaign within their own district. Consequently, senators already have a broader base of support and organization within their own states than do representatives. So if a representative and a senator both decide to run for President, the senator already has an organizational head start and is also more likely to be known and recognized in states geographically distant from his own.

The difference between the two bodies, Maciamo, and it is a difference that not even many Americans seem to recognize anymore, is basically this:

The House of Representatives represents the populace, the people. This is why more populous states have a greater number of representatives. California has somewhere around 50, I believe. A few states have only one representative. (The Constitution guarantees that each state will have at least one).

The Senate represents the states. The states should not be thought of as administrative subdivisions of the national government. Think about it in the "state=nation" sense of "state" and it will make more sense. Each state, regardless of population has two senators.

Legislation can be proposed in either the House or the Senate, but must be passed by both prior to being sent to the President. Each body provides a check against the other in this way. Spending bills may only originate in the House, though. Since legislation can originate in either body and must be passed by both, you can see that viewing them as an Upper House and a Lower House is not really appropriate, at least as far as legislative function is concerned. There being far fewer senators, and they being elected on a statewide basis, there is a bit more social prestige attached to the Senate, though.

Mike Cash
Oct 13, 2004, 21:51
I think the easy answer is that they're the next highest ranks down from the president.

If that's the case, then isn't it sort of strange that the order of succession doesn't reflect it?

http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0101032.html

cicatriz esp
Oct 14, 2004, 19:10
Excellent posts by mikecash. And just to respond to Maciamo, if you were to put "fame" and "social prestige" into some sort of abstract bunsen burner, out would come power, or i should say the greater potential to become President. As far as legislative power goes, most states have more than two representatives, so you could say that a senator's vote carries more "weight" in some sense.