I have been saying for some time now that if Barack Obama is re-elected, there will be a serious effort in the next four years to repeal the 22nd Amendment.
When I say it to my golfing buddies, the usual reaction is to ask what the 22nd Amendment is.
They know what the First Amendment is, and they certainly know what the second amendment provides.
But number twenty-two? Tell me again.
It’s the amendment that says a President can only be elected to two terms.
Oh yeah. Are you saying Obama would run again in 2016?
Well, he’ll only be 55 years old. And he’ll only be 59 in 2020. And 63 in 2024. By then the cute little kids who learned in kindergarten to sing, “Barack-Hussein-Obama-uh-uh-uh,” will be old enough to vote for him.
OMG! Repeal the 22nd Amendment? That couldn’t happen, could it?
Well, let’s see. The 22nd Amendment was proposed in 1947 by the first Republican Congress to be elected in almost 20 years. It took four years to garner 36 states to be ratified.
The Republicans were in favor of it because they were still seething over Franklin Roosevelt’s third and fourth elections. It never would have been ratified at all, if it were not for the Dixiecrats who were mad at Harry Truman over his stand on civil rights.
Google “No More Second Term Blues” in the New York Times. You’ll find an article by a couple of Williams College Professors who are all in favor of repeal.
Their argument? They tell us that second term Presidents are just lame ducks. Nobody listens to them. And they don’t listen to anybody. Since they can’t run again, they don’t care what the people think or want.
They say second term Presidencies are more apt to be stained by scandal. Unconcerned about re-election, Presidents don’t run a tight ship, the Williams Professors argue, and they cite Watergate and the Iran Contra affair as examples.
And lots of people claim that the 22nd Amendment is undemocratic. They insist that it deprives the People of the right to elect the one person they really want in the White House. The person with the most experience. The person they know and trust. Their beloved leader.
It’s hard to ague with majority rule. That’s what most people think democracy is all about,
But majority rule has its limitations, and that’s what constitutions are for. The majority may want to lynch somebody, but the Constitutions says, “No, you can’t.” The majority may want to silence a protester, but the Constitution says, “No.”
Our Constitution is designed to provide checks and balances; to temper the human desire to exercise unlimited power.
An incumbent President has an enormous advantage in an election. Air Force One is only part of it. Media exposure is exhaustive and free. A virtual army of dependent federal employees hustle and bustle to please the White House.
The President has access to unlimited information and resources, which a challenger would have to find and pay for. Not to mention the ability to raise money from people who want something from Uncle Sam.
The Founders knew that Power corrupts. They adopted a Bill of Rights to protect the people from arbitrary government.
The Twenty-Second Amendment protects us from Monarchy. From Dictatorship. In the United States we obey the rule of law, not the law of a ruler.
The Twenty-Second Amendment is a good thing. We ought to keep it.