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We rank the Amendment that tells the President you need to go home.
George Washington is the father of our country. There is no dispute. I don’t know who the mother of our country is, but we have ordained George as the paternal figure of our country’s founding.
Washington was a dignified man. One of principles. One of honor.
When called to lead the Revolution, he answered. Then he delivered.
When we needed to draft a Constitution, he was called to preside. He answered - in uniform and delivered.
He was easily elected when we held our first presidential election. He won reelection just as handily.
George decided that enough was enough after he wrapped up eight years as the chief executive. He wanted to head back to Mount Vernon and retire.
This move established the idea that the person serving as president of the United States would only do it for two four-year terms.
Who can say they immediately created a tradition by stopping something? If I stopped taking out the garbage, would Anonymous declare it a tradition on future husbands after she ended my term as spouse? I don’t think so.
The funny thing is that Washington didn’t believe in term limits. He was perfectly fine with people electing anyone they wanted.
You want twenty years of John Adams, America, you can have him! Ten years of James Madison – give me reasons why this isn’t a good idea!
But Washington wanted eight years, then go home to his plantation along the Potomac River and relax.
Because of this action, a presidential tradition of serving only two years and then going home was created. Jefferson did it, some other guy did, then Andrew Jackson, and then I think that was it for a while.
In 1929, the Great Depression hit the United States like a hammer hits a nail. President Herbert Hoover spent most of his time convinced the Red Cross could save us because it wasn’t the government’s job to intervene on the people’s behalf. This line of thinking is why Hoover ranks so low on the OHK Presidential Power Rankings from two years ago.
By the time the election of 1932 rolled around, the country was ready to elect a dead fish. Fortunately, a dead fish wasn’t on the ballot, and instead, we got President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who is highly ranked on the same Power Ranking.
Roosevelt whooped his opponent in his reelection four years later and then was prepared to head back to upstate New York and retire. But this little conflict called World War II was about to blow up, and FDR didn’t think he should hang up his presidential hat just yet.
So he ran a third time.
And the country didn’t know what to do.
Well, members of the Republican Party didn’t know what to do. The rest of the country went ahead and elected FDR to a sweeping third victory. And then a fourth.
FDR won so many presidential elections it killed him.
And the Republicans were determined not to allow anyone the chance of holding what our buddy Alexander Hamilton, whom I haven’t mentioned in some time, wanted in the first place- a lifetime presidency.
How do you impose limits on an office filled by people who don’t necessarily want to leave? Laws themselves probably wouldn’t work. Instead, you need an amendment to the Constitution.
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Which brings us to the Twenty-Second Amendment. The FDR Amendment which caps presidential terms to two. No Three-Peat.
Let’s dive in. Then, we can reread it. But only twice, to stay on theme.
9: Amendment XXII
Its purpose: Limits the terms of office for the President of the United States to two terms
Year proposed: 1947
Year Ratified: 1951
Since its implementation, the Twenty-Second Amendment has prevented the following two terms of presidencies from continuing:
· Ronald Reagan
· George W. Bush
· Barrack Obama
In fact, the only time a party has held the White House for more than eight years was during the Reagan-HW Bush twelve-year run, when I was a young Republican. I was also a heck of an athlete and much skinnier back then. My point here is I miss the mid to late 80s because I didn’t know as much. It was good.
Let’s say I run for president. It’s a foregone conclusion I would get elected – I’ve never lost an election, and I am wildly popular. Would it be fair to deny my fellow citizens the gifts I could provide beyond the eight years the Constitution has afforded me?
Of course not.
But that’s the prevailing argument as to why this Amendment is bad. Washington himself thought the idea that Americans couldn’t elect someone they loved for as long as they wanted to was undemocratic.
This is also a guy who created a capital district and denied those who lived there the right to vote in the first place, so I will go ahead and disagree with Father on the complexities of voting.
Hoover was no fan of FDR. As I said, I don’t know what it is like to lose an election, but I get the idea that if I lost to someone, I would probably not like that person unless that person was a clone of me. I’d be fine losing to clone me.
Forced into retirement by the current president, Hoover railed against everything Roosevelt did - the New Deal, war strategy, the Supreme Court, you name it.
When it came time for FDR’s second term to finish, and instead, he decided to run for a third term, Hoover flipped out.
He got so worked up that he called what FDR was doing akin to wearing a silk hat to a funeral.
You. Just. Don’t. Do. That. At least in 1930s America. This dis didn’t land as hard as Hoover had hoped.
Also, who owns a silk hat? Do they still make those?
Who proposed it?
Congressman Earl C. Michener from Michigan proposed the amendment, and the House passed it 285-121, with 47 Democrats, probably all from the South, voting for it.
Senator Robert A Taft from Ohio, son of former President William Taft, sponsored it in the Senate, where it passed 59-23 with 16 Democrats, probably all from the South, voting for it.
It went to state legislatures who debated it over the next few years, and it wasn’t until 1951 that it picked up speed. All of the former Confederate states voted for the amendment. This is the only time I have ever agreed with these people outside of food.
Why did I rank it here?
I’m a big fan of term limits. I disagree with the idea that Americans can repeatedly vote for the right person, mainly when those people enrich themselves, which seems to plague both gangs of the political system.
We used to have secret corruption. Now we have open corruption where people have long careers as legislators. When they decide they have accumulated enough money, they move on to the world of lobbying or corporate life, where they reap the benefits of being elected with no limits from the people.
So the Twenty-Second Amendment is definitely a top ten amendment. It didn’t go far enough, but then again, you need hundreds of people to agree to it and impose it on themselves, and that is about as likely as it is for Okay History to become my primary source of income.
Could it happen? Sure. Will it happen? Of course not.
What do you think of term limits? We have a comparison of lifetime appointments with the Supreme Court, and we have evidence of what lifetime appointments can do. Do you think term limits prevent such things?
Also, who do you think is the Mother of our country?
Okay, let me know what you think of my ranking.
It was a heck of a busy week on the road. I’m glad to be home and see Blue and Anonymous, who has returned from her spying convention or whatever she was doing for the past week. I’m playing some golf this weekend, only this time it’s at a baseball stadium. That should be interesting.
Before you head off to celebrate the weekend, please hit that like button and enjoy the weekend. I’ll see you on Monday with another week in History.