The 22nd Amendment
A Call to Repeal
By. Raimondo Graziano
~ Written sometime after the 45th President’s Inauguration
The concept of presidential term limits is now enshrined in our American political, social and constitutional zeitgeist so to speak, a living history that guides the principles and codes of conduct that strengthen our understanding and appreciation for our collective American history. Prior to the second amendments addition to the constitution, it was traditional for Presidents to not seek office for more than two terms, at least until President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who sought and won four consecutive presidential terms, presiding over the largest rescaling of the American government underneath the New Deal, and the social programs that followed, providing social security and access to healthcare, though not a single payer system which was being advocated for, for all Americans. He presided over the greatest jobs programs, and investment into infrastructure and the armed forces in decades; not only this but he presided over the course and direction of the American, European, Pacific and African campaigns for the majority of the second world war. In his final term in office, he did not live to see the end of the conflict, or the end of his fourth term. The decision to draft support for the 22nd amendment was a reaction to President Roosevelt’s unprecedented four terms secured in office. Near the end of the 1944 campaign, Thomas Dewey announced support of an amendment that would limit future presidents to two terms. According to Dewey, “four terms, or sixteen years (the length of time President Roosevelt would have served had he lived until 1949), is the most dangerous threat to our freedom ever proposed.” The Republican-controlled 80th Congress approved a Joint resolution “proposing an amendment to the Constitution relating to the terms of office of the president” in March of 1947.
My argument is that the limits imposed on those in office to seek more than two consecutive terms in office undermines the capability of a President to preside over continued enactment of reforms and policies aimed at bolstering and expanding the capabilities and success of the American people and of government. Two facets to be taken into consideration. Firstly, the choice of the American people to elect Roosevelt for four consecutive terms showed both their belief in his vision and ambitions for the country as well as their trust in the man’s stewardship over our democracy. The people of this country know what they want, and there should not be a limit on the people’s ability to oust, put a vote of confidence into the incumbent president, or choose a different path entirely. But for the country to be moving every four to eight years between two different sets of politically ideologies is counterproductive to the sustained growth of our country and of our people.
On a more fundamental level, our nation is losing a sense of our common history and direction. Today, we face pertinent questions as to our identify as a people and where we go in the decades to come. We need clear visions, and allegiance to political compromise, and ambitionless pushes for empty platitudes and promises to lead us nowhere, so it is no wonder that we swing wildly from party to party. We are a nation in search of direction, of purpose. Our leaders lack a path forward that all Americans can fall behind on. Secondly, and disturbingly, pushes for limits on the people’s ability to vote and the number of years an elected official can serve are advocated for by republican state houses and legislatures. This is notable today, as pushes for term limits on congressman are being advocated for by our current president and by members of congress and the senate that sought office last year. The passing of an amendment requires a two thirds majority of state legislatures. The 22nd Amendment was passed by a republican controlled 80th Congress, and ratified thereafter.
While democrats and republicans are both equal in scandal, corrupting and their ability to employ subterfuge and political games, it is important to note that Republicans have always been more callous and calculated in their concerted efforts to secure power and influence, both on the federal and state level. While the Republicans control of our congress and our government, for much of the 20th and increasingly so in the 21st century; their control is not necessarily reflective of the thoughts and beliefs of the American people. This is evidenced by a wide-ranging report that analyzed the thinking of the American people on a broad spectrum, the report found that a majority of the electorate, regardless of political affiliations, share decidedly left leaning views. There are republican and democratic politicians, people ought to not identify by their political party; while the politicikers may be corrupt and working for their aims, I have no malice towards any ‘vote,’ individual rather, because I recognize that at the end of the day, average citizens are working for their families and their communities, political divisions, anything really that helps to sow divides is politically, and commercially expedient to those in power, and those that cling to it for all the wrong reasons.
It is in my belief that the pushback being felt from the ramifications of the course the President is currently taking will energize a movement on the left, that will sweep through the country and will be felt where it matters the most – the ballot box. In one year’s time, the United States will face midterm elections, in this coming election at the federal, state, and local level elections will be held in which the ability for the democrats to control the majority in the senate, and regain the house, though that will be a feat, as the most seats in history are held by Republican congressmen. It should be the work of all those civically engaged to ensure that the democrats make a concerted effort to secure the senate, the house and the state legislatures; and to specifically target three chamber in Nebraska specifically; the state where Republicans are three legislatures away from being able to hold their own constitutional convention. The aim should be to prevent this, secure that position for the democratic party, and pass reforms that began under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Of course, depending on how far the current President uses his executive power, it will be up to the discretion of the hopeful incoming Democratic congress to place limitations and restriction on the executive. Roosevelt was a man who, despite his own personal flaws and misgivings on certain issues of policy – notably the internment of Japanese, Italian and German Americans – laid out a vision, a hope for a young nation, one that people trusted and believed in. One that people voted for, for four consecutive terms. The nation spoke, and we as a party ought to sit down and perhaps take a listen.