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Away From Home

Monday, June 20, 2005

On repealing the 22nd Amendment

Partially in response to Mela's earlier comment, and partially because I think people should know about these things, here is the text of a Constitutional amendment that has been introduced into the House:

The twenty-second article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is repealed.

(The 22nd Amendment imposes a two-term limit for the President.)

My initial thinking on this is that getting rid of term limits is a good thing. Isn't it fundamentally undemocratic to say "Oh sure, you can vote for anyone you want, except this guy"? Isn't it absurd to essentially punish someone for doing a good job?

It's possible that giving someone the ability to remain President for an indefinite number of terms could result in a quasi-monarchy. However, as long as we continue to have free and open elections, featuring free debate, I don't think that's much of a danger. I have faith in our Constitution to guarantee and ensure free elections. Free elections mean that the President would have to continue to justify him/herself every four years, and if the voters think they're doing a good job, then why not let them continue on?

Also, think about what happens currently. If a President is popular at the end of their second term (and would thus be likely to be re-elected), then their party will just run a candidate as identical to that President as possible, to capitalize on that popularity. If they end up running near-identical candidates anyway, how is that any different than running the same candidate?

Another side benefit would be a more even distribution of Presidential authority over the term. Currently, presidential power peaks in year 5 of a presidency. The reason for this is that the President has the weight of a successful referendum behind him, so he can effectively claim the authority of the people. Also, lame-duck status has not really set in yet. After year 5, however, the President becomes too much of a lame duck to get anything accomplished, so years 7 and 8 are the least powerful of all. (Think about it -- it makes sense. There are plenty of studies to back me up.)

Getting rid of term limits would remove this sharp decline in effectiveness, because there would be no such thing as a lame-duck President anymore.

Yes, I'm advocating letting Bush run for a third term. However, this seems like a necessary evil. Besides, he's poisoned himself far beyond re-electability anyway.

We as a citizenry either want the best person available to be President, or we don't. It makes little sense to bar someone from the chance to be elected solely because they'd been elected twice before.


  • he's poisoned himself far beyond re-electability anyway.

    Many of us thought that last year, Scott, but that didn't make a difference, did it? Eliminating the 22d A. would just give Karl Rove & co. carte blanche to keep falsifying election results in key states to keep this brain-dead wackjob in the White House.

    I also have faith in the Constitution, but NOT in the people currently running our gov't to give a damn what that document actually says. They've lied about EVERYTHING of substance for years now -- as some of your other posts note -- so what makes you think they can be trusted with this?

    If the issue is ensuring that good leaders stay in office, what we need to do is recruit more educated, competent, open-minded people to run for office, not allow the same ones to stay there indefinitely. Even if they're competent, history shows that long periods in power tend to make people lazy &/or corrupt, and we've got way too much of that now.

    By Blogger Jay Denari, at 6/21/2005 03:31:00 PM  

  • Jay, your criticisms are quite good (and welcomed). However, and perhaps this is industrial-grade willful blindness on my part, I
    continue to have faith in the Constitution. Here's why.

    First, upholding and adhering to the Constitution is not the sole province of those currently in the Executive branch. If it were, then
    I agree that there would be an unacceptable danger in entrusting that adherence to the current administration, which (as you rightly point out) has no qualms about flouting inconvenient rules. However, there are and will always be careful observers on the other side, who have access to the courts. It is ultimately the responsibility of the Supreme Court (and, by extension, lower federal courts) to decide what the Constitution means and to hold campaigns faithful to it. In short, I am not entrusting Bush Co. with upholding the Constitution – I am trusting that it will be upheld against them (and everyone else).

    How is it that "recruit[ing] more educated, competent, open-minded
    people to run for office" and giving successful Presidents the ability to keep their jobs" are incompatible concepts? In fact, I couldn't agree with you more – we do need more educated, competent, open-minded people to run. Preventing a person from running for a third term does nothing to further this goal. In fact, if the most educated, competent, open-minded person already happens to have been elected twice, aren't term limits actually counterproductive?

    Additionally, there is an argument that removing term limits would
    actually further the goal of having better, more competitive elections, since political parties tend to save their "best" candidates for years where there is no incumbent (i.e. 2008).
    Removing term limits would also remove the incentive to delay, and
    would result in parties running their "best" candidates in every

    And finally, yes, this would give Rove et al carte blanche to continue
    falsifying elections. But the same thing will happen in 2008 anyway;
    whether the beneficiary is Dubya or Bush III -- I believe he goes by the moniker "Bill Frist" -- makes
    no difference.

    By Blogger Scott, at 6/21/2005 06:44:00 PM  

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