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Presidential Elections and an Idea...
It is a fact of life. A first-term president spends his or her (lord willing in 2012) entire first term running for the second term, and then in the second term, is a lame-duck with waning power. Then, the president is disqualified from the office for life, having served two terms. Such a system is not what the founders envisioned. George Washington, in a move that rightfully earned him a spot among our greatest presidents (he is #3 on my list, after Lincoln and Reagan), refused to run for a third term. Washington’s two-term tradition kept us from becoming like those tin-pot third world banana republics, where a "president for life" rules with an iron fist that would leave Roman emperors awestruck. That changed when Franklin Roosevelt, the closest thing we’ve had to a despotic dictator, ran for and won four terms, effectively "president for life," dying in office months into his fourth term.
FDR’s despotism led to the 22nd Amendment, which limits a president to two terms and in no case more than 10 years (allowing someone who succeeds a president with less than 2 years in his term to run for two full terms himself). However, the 22nd Amendment, codifying into law what had been, prior to FDR, a question of the president’s personal honor, has caused the perpetual campaign / lame duck cycle. Corrective action is in order. I have a proposal. A person can serve one term as president. The term will be six, not four, years. After that, the president may run for, and if a winner, serve another term, once two terms have passed.
Such an arrangement gives a president three Congresses to work on his or her agenda. Presidential leadership will be 50% more stable. Lame-duckism will be reduced by the fact that a president could come back, leaving Congress careful about stomping on a president in his or her final two years. Outstanding presidents could serve a second term, but with enough space between terms to prevent any sort of alternating presidency arrangement, as Putin and Medvedev are attempting in Russia as I write this. Furthermore, the people will be less likely to enshrine extremists, since they know that six years is a long time.
Mr. Obama is already running for president in May 2011, even though re-election is in 2012. We need to stop this sort of wasteful government.