How to Become a Congressman
Congress is a very prestigious place in the United States to serve. The power and recognition that go along with a seat in the House of Representatives is something that draws many in. If you are interested in becoming a congressman, there are some basics that you need to know.
Article 1, Section 2 of the United States Constitution clearly defines the basic eligibility requirements for a member of the House of Representatives. Each member must meet all of the following criteria:
- Be at least 25 years of age.
- Have been a citizen of the United States for at least seven years.
- Be (at the time of the election) a resident of the state you are elected to represent.
As long as you meet those three requirements, you are legally allowed to become a congressman. However, that is definitely the easy part.
The Path to Congress
While pretty much any 25 year old American can technically be a congressman, the actual process of getting elected is something that very few people manage to successfully navigate.
If you want to have the biggest possible chance of becoming a congressman, there are few things you need to do extremely well.
- Build an impressive resume: This one is key. Build up a list of accomplishments that shows voters you are someone to take seriously. Do things like get published, run businesses, volunteer, and hold any leadership position you possibly can.
- Make connections: It isn’t just a matter of who you know, it’s a matter of who knows you. The only way that you will get elected to congress is if you can convince a majority of people in district to vote for you. To do this, you will have to befriend people, and hope that you can make a good enough impression on them that they not only vote for you, but convince their friends and family too as well.
- Hold strong positions: If there is one thing that recent elections have shown us, it is that voters don’t like so called “flip floppers” who change their positions on issues based on current social trends. This is not only dishonest, but actually tends to drive away the supporters you already have.
If you want to read more about becoming a successful in politics, make sure you read our guide on how to become a politician.
From Candidate to Congressman
Once a candidate is thoroughly vetted and approved for the position of Congressman, the next step is for the candidate to select his/her political platform. A potential Congressional candidate must be able to support and validate this platform publicly to engender a majority vote among voters of his own party and the opposing party in an election. For instance, a Republican and Democratic candidate may be chosen from each voting district. Members of House of Representatives, with few exceptions are elected by their home districts. As a result, the party in power will seek to draw district boundaries distinctly to reduce the strength of their Congressional opponent. As each district’s voting populace chooses its desired Congressman/woman, the outcomes of these elections clearly show the party majority in the House of Representatives.
The Job of a Congressman
The Constitutional duty of a Congressman is to pass laws for the welfare of the entire nation as part of the legislative branch of the US government. However, Congressmen may legislate only on those matters specifically enumerated in the Constitution or implied by the “elastic clause.” Other duties of Congressmen include introducing bills of legislation and referring them to the appropriate committee. The committee will hold a hearing and may kill the bill or report it to the House of Representatives with or without changes. Congressmen can then debate the bill, defeat it or pass it with or without changes. Congressmen then forward the bill to the Senate for approval. Congressmen must be fully knowledgeable of the Constitution and duties of the House of Representatives.