Rules Former Presidents Have to Follow
Presidents don't just return to normal after their terms, here's why
Being the president of the United States is quite an appealing job. No one tells you what to do and you control an entire country for four years. Even if it’s a lot of work you have private chefs for around the clock service, private flights, and the knowledge of classified information. However, when it’s all over the president doesn’t just go back to being a regular citizen. The job of being a former president begins with expectations such as raising funds, doing speeches, interviews, or attending events. From driving cars to a lifetime pension here are some rules former presidents have to follow.
Most notably former presidents are not allowed to drive their own car or drive on public roads. This means you don’t have to deal with traffic every day, and for one your driver can take you where you need to go, and can even block traffic for you. However, this can become aggravating for some former presidents who like to drive. The rule became known when George H. Bush did an interview with Jay Leno where he revealed that presidents are only allowed to drive if it’s on their property. The rule makes sense, in any capacity driving on public roads is not safe, and Secret Service is trained in evasive driving. This was put in place after the assassination of John F. Kennedy which proved to be a major turning point in Secret Service protection.
When presidents leave office most would think that national security briefings would end, but in fact, presidents stay up-to-date with all national security briefing. This is because if requested by the sitting president he or she may ask former presidents for political advice or wisdom. This became mainstream when President Donald Trump threatened to revoke former President Barack Obama’s access.
In 1955 the Presidential Libraries Act was passed encouraging all presidents to build a library in their name. These libraries include presidential papers, documents, handwritten material, records, collections, and other historical material. However, presidents are not allowed to remove any historical information that occurred during their term. Presidents are allowed to however make their decisions more appealing or try to make it seem justified. George W. Bush did this in his library when mentioning his invasion of Iraq, instead of shying away from it, the information emboldens his decision. This was decided after Richard Nixon tried to leave out materials regarding the Watergate scandal.
Having a lifetime pension is obligatory for all former presidents as it is mandated by the Former Presidents Act. The presidential pensions are fixed and usually grows annually due to inflation. The pension also serves as an allowance with an annual pension of $207,800. This was mandated by the Former Presidents Act because when Harry Truman left office he and his wife were broke, and to protect the dignity of the U.S. presidency it was added.
Former presidents are seen as diplomatic figures after their presidencies, and that is why presidents are given over $1 million annually to travel. Their spouses are also given around $500,000 annually. Further former presidents can obtain diplomatic passports to avoid the hassle of getting visas for some countries. Presidents are expected to use these travel expenses to meet with world leaders or organizations around the world to promote democracy and diplomacy.
To prevent assassination attempts all texts and phone calls are monitored, along with all mail the president receives. We all know that the intelligence community has been exposed for lawlessly tapping into American’s phones, and presidents are no exception. According to warrant laws, the Secret Service does not need any permission to monitor the president’s devices. The Secret Service along with the United States Postal Service goes through the president’s mail to prevent any poison or bombs that intend to hurt the president. In 2018, the Secret Service intercepted explosives en route to former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
While being a former president and one of the most powerful individuals in the world may seem appealing, the invasiveness of the secret service makes sure that you cannot go anywhere alone or do anything at all. Everything you do is monitored and everywhere you go or do is watched. If you wanted to you couldn’t even go to Starbucks alone, without having a multitude of agents surrounding you. Being ahead of potential threats is the biggest job for the Secret Service, and although invasive, its to protect the former president.