Being the president of the United States of America has got to be one of the hardest jobs on earth, so it should come as no surprise that acting presidents have to follow some pretty strict rules. But as it turns out, former presidents have a whole host of rules they have to follow as well, and some of them may surprise you!
1. They Must Establish a Presidential Library
You may have noticed before that it seems like there’s always a library named after every president. That’s because there is, and it’s a rule that former presidents must establish a library. Thanks to the Presidential Libraries Act of 1955, each former president must oversee the construction of a new library in their name.
But presidential libraries aren’t “normal” libraries, as they must contain everything that’s ever been written by that president while in office – even the bad stuff. This is because this information is all legally considered public property.
2. They Still Have to Read National Security Briefings
One of the duties that comes along with being president is constantly having to read up on national security briefs in order to stay informed about any potential threats to the United States. Former presidents must also do this so that they can offer advice to the current administration, or in case they get asked about it by the press.
3. They Must Have Their Mail Searched
This probably isn’t too surprising, considering all of the sketchy things that could get sent in the mail. Both the secret service and the United States Postal Service are required to closely examine any suspicious-looking packages that get delivered to the president and former presidents.
4. They Aren’t Allowed to Drive
Of course, we’re all aware of the fact that the acting president always has drivers to take him where he needs to go, which sounds like a pretty sweet deal if you ask us. But did you know that former presidents also aren’t allowed to drive themselves anywhere outside of their own private property? This is because presidents get a lifetime of secret service to ensure their safety on the road and otherwise.
5. They Have Their Tech Usage Monitored
Literally every person is being monitored by big tech through their smartphones nowadays, but surveillance is a little different with former presidents because while the government is required to provide a warrant to survey American citizens, it is not required to do so for former presidents on the grounds that it is necessary to protect them from any outside threats.
6. They Must Maintain Status as Goodwill Ambassadors
Former presidents may not have explicitly stated presidential duties anymore, but they’re still required to uphold certain roles, one of which is being a goodwill ambassador. As is such, they’re encouraged to travel as much as possible, and are even given a budget of one million dollars annually to do so. They also receive diplomatic passports so that they can travel freely without having to obtain visas.
7. They Can’t Go Anywhere Alone
Former presidents aren’t only not allowed to drive places alone – they’re actually not allowed to go anywhere alone, period. In fact, you’re not really allowed to do anything alone at all, so if alone time is important to you, then being president probably isn’t the right career path for you. Former secret service agent Jonathan Wackrow described it as “the most intrusive thing anyone could ever experience.”
8. They Can’t Do Whatever They Want
And with not being allowed to go anywhere alone comes not being able to do absolutely anything you want. Because, as you might expect, the secret service has to be given a heads up before you go anywhere so that they can scout out the location, and oftentimes this needs to be done days or even months beforehand. And remember, this is the case for the rest of your life. Being president is clearly not for the spontaneous!
So What if the Former President Doesn’t Like the Rules?
While the rules for former presidents certainly are very strict, there is one solution for those who don’t want to abide by them: just sign a waiver saying you don’t want the secret service’s guaranteed protections for former presidents. This just means that the former president’s safety is now in their own hands and they are free to either forgo any sort of security, or hire their own that may allow them more freedom.