Any high school student who has attended a Civics 101 class will be aware of how the legislative arm of the US government is organized, with an Upper House called the Senate and a Lower House called the House of Representatives and collectively, these two houses are called the Congress. Before we start off on the process of how one can become a senator, here’s another thought…
Ask any child what they want to be when they grow up and the answers you’ll receive will be on the lines of ‘astronaut’, ‘train driver’, ‘policeman’, etc; hardly anyone will tell you that it is their ambition is to be a ‘senator’ or a ‘politician’, unless the child is unusually precocious!
The general perception even among adults, is that a career in public service is not an occupation of choice for the average lay American, even though the Founding Fathers of the US Constitution came from all walks of life! Remember, the quality of government and public administration you receive is dependent on the type of Congressional representatives you elect! That said, here’s how you can become a senator…
Article I, Section 3 of the US Constitution lays down the eligibility criteria for a senator as follows:
“… Must be 30 years of age; must be a citizen of the United States for 9 years or more; must reside in the state he or she represents at the time of election”.
This means that a person of foreign origin can become a United States senator, provided they have acquired US citizenship and held the same for a minimum period of 9 years at the time they choose to run for the office.
The road to becoming a senator…
Unlike other occupations, there are no fixed educational qualifications or degrees which are required to become a senator, rather a candidate can come from any walk of life. However, certain skills and knowledge which are a must have are listed below:
- Be proficient in political thought, theory and science;
- Be a legal expert (most senators usually have some type of legal qualifications);
- Make an early start in politics, at the basic ground-level as a party volunteer or aide to senior party official, who may also be a mentor;
- Work your way up the party ladder or get elected to the state legislature as a representative or state senator, or through elected roles in local, city and county administration.
- Build a strong network of influential people within and outside party affiliations, who will sponsor your bid for a senator’s office, when you’re ready to make the attempt.
- Last and the most important skill should be to influence and build up a strong support base among the state constituents, i.e. the general public. Additionally, you must be able to gather lots of financial support, because getting a nomination and then fighting the senatorial election is a very expensive proposition.
In terms of personality, senators need to be friendly, outgoing, charismatic and aggressive without being overbearing; have strong people and time management skills and have excellent communication and public speaking skills. A passion for public service and a spotless reputation are two other vital characteristics for becoming a senator!