How to Become a Senator
Parents like to tell their children that they could be president some day. It might be more sensible to tell them they could be a senator. That would increase the odds by a factor of 100. Each state has two senators, and the District of Columbia has two shadow senators. They would presumably be seated in the senate if the District of Columbia ever becomes a state.
The Constitution states that the minimum age for senators is 30. They must have held citizenship for at least nine years before election as senator, and they must reside in the state they will represent. Joe Biden was one of a few senators who were elected at 29. He was 30 before the senate convened.
Even if a person meets the constitutional requirements, the families of elected government officials have a tremendous advantage when aspiring to the senate. The Kennedy dynasty immediately come to mind. Being the wife of an ex-president was a tremendous advantage for Senator Hillary Clinton.
Still, people with a very average background can be elected to the senate and even attain the presidency. President Barack Obama is the prime example.
Senator Barack Hussein Obama II
Born in Hawaii, Barack Hussein Obama II lived with his mother for several years Indonesia. By the fifth grade, Obama went back to Hawaii and lived there until he graduated from high school. Three years of that time he lived with his mother and sister. When his mother went back to Indonesia, he remained in Hawaii and lived with his maternal grandparents. He attended Occidental College in California, Columbia University in New York City and Harvard Law School.
After holding various jobs, he was elected Illinois State Senator in 1996. He was reelected in 1998 and 2002. He gave a rousing keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, which gave him impetus in his senatorial campaign. In November 2004, he became U.S. Senator-elect Barack Obama.
Senator Margaret Chase Smith
Margaret Chase was born in Maine in 1897. Her father was a barber and her mother worked as a clerk, waitress and factory worker. She graduated from high school in 1916. While in school, she held a part-time job in a five-and-dime store.
After graduation, she held various positions as a school teacher, telephone operator and circulation manager for the local newspaper. After holding other business positions, she married Clyde Smith, a local politician. As a result, she became active in politics. Clyde was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1937. Margaret went to Washington and became her husband’s secretary.
In 1940, Clyde had a serious heart attack. When he died, Margaret won a special election, which was held to fill his seat for the unexpired term in the house. She was reelected for four terms.
In 1948, she was elected as senator from Maine and the first woman U.S. Senator.
Senator Robert Alphonso Taft
Senator Robert Taft is the perfect example of the advantage held by close relatives of a political family. He was the son of President and Supreme Court Justice William Howard Taft. While his father was Governor of the Philippines, Robert spent four years there. He excelled in scholarship, finishing first in his class at Yale and Harvard Law School. With 34 Harvard Law School Alumni having been U.S. Senators, the school appears to be a portal to the senate.
Robert worked several years as a lawyer in Cincinnati, Ohio. He served as both Ohio Representative and Senator. Beginning in 1938, he began his three-term U.S. Senate career.
Robert had a son, who were also elected to the U.S. Senate. This again demonstrated the power of a political heritage and name recognition.
Senator Robert Carlyle Byrd
When Senator Robert Byrd died in 2010, he was the longest-serving U.S. Senator in history. Looking at his background, that seemed particularly unlikely. He was born Cornelius Calvin Sale Jr. When his mother died in the 1918 flu epidemic, he was adopted and raised and by his aunt and uncle, Titus and Vlurma Byrd. His name was changed to Robert Carlyle Byrd.
Raised in the coal fields of West Virginia, he worked as a clerk, butcher, welder and gas station attendant.
In his early years, he joined the Ku Klux Klan, which he later disavowed.
In 1946, he became a West Virginia State Representative. In 1950, he was elected State Senator. He served as U.S. Representative from 1953 to 1959 and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1958. Robert Byrd was another example of a senator who made it against all odds.
A child born today still has a chance to become a U.S. Senator. There are now several women senators, which helps the chances for girls. Parents sending their child to Harvard would also definitely increase their chances.