Barack Obama
Credit: Pete Souza/Wikimedia Commons

I’ve never really been sure why there was enough consensus in this country after World War Two to pass the 22nd Amendment, barring any president from being elected more than twice. I can certainly see why a lot of people felt that Franklin Delano Roosevelt had served too long, but then it seemed fortuitous that he’d been available to lead us through most of the war. In any case, passing amendments to the Constitution is notoriously difficult, so why was this reform possible?

If anything, Roosevelt’s war leadership and immense popularity were arguments against forcing a well-liked and much-needed leader out of office just because of the passage of some arbitrary amount of time.

I guess the country felt that it was still dangerous to allow anyone to stay in power too long and they didn’t want Roosevelt setting a precedent contrary to the one George Washington set when he voluntarily stepped down after two terms in office.

I see the rationale for the amendment, but I don’t like it and I wish it didn’t exist. So, count me among the people who wish Obama could stand for election again. Two-thirds of Democrats still want him, so why should they be denied the opportunity to nominate him?

I have never supported term-limits, which I consider to be one of the stupidest “reform” ideas I’ve ever heard, but it makes a little more sense to me when discussing a president than it does a congressperson. After all, a president has executive authority which they can theoretically consolidate and abuse.

So, I don’t think this is a slam-dunk case either way, but it doesn’t sit well with me that the people can want a president and not be able to vote for them. Absent the amendment, I’m sure some people would vote against Obama for no other reason than that they think he should honor the two-term code of honor. But that’s their right. That’s representative government. If he lost for that reason, there would be nothing wrong with that.

It’s just that I look at poll results like this, and I doubt the American people are getting the choice they want or deserve:

A Quinnipiac University National poll out Wednesday found that majorities of Americans believe neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump will be a good president.

Fifty-eight percent of voters say that Trump would not be a good president, according to the poll, while only 35% say he would be. That compares to 53% who believe Clinton will not be a good president and 43% who say she will.

Maybe the Canadians were on to something when they chanted “Four More Years” at Obama after he addressed their parliament.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at