Repeal the 22nd Amendment

I think its time for us to admit that the 22nd Amendment didn’t go far enough. It’s time to get rid of it and replace it with a restriction to one Presidential term. Maybe we should also lengthen that one term slightly (the Philippines restricts their presidency to one six year term), but there’s simply no need to have Presidents running for reelection. The executive branch needs to be put in further check, regardless of which party controls it.

Like most good ideas this isn’t novel, rather its very old. In an article for The Imaginative Conservative about Orestes Brownson’s “The American Republic” Peter Stanlis argued:

“In 1865 Brownson showed remarkable prophetic insight into some future dangers to the American Republic, both in the written constitution of the state, and in the unwritten constitution of American society. Within the state constitution he warned of a danger that history has vindicated: “The danger that the general government will usurp the rights of the states is far less than the danger that the Executive will usurp all the powers of Congress and the judiciary” (p. 371). There had been a growth in “dictatorial powers” in the Presidency during the Civil War, and these “usurpations” and “abuses” continued after the War: “There is a growing disposition on the part of Congress to throw as much of the business of government as possible into the hands of the Executive” (p. 372). A possible cure for this “growing evil” was to make the President “ineligible for a second term” (p. 373). Another great abuse that Brownson feared within the state was the appeal to the “general welfare” clause of the Constitution to justify an enormous growth in the Federal Government’s power, at the expense of genuine private welfare…”

He then goes on to quote Brownson:

“The private welfare of each is, no doubt, for the welfare of all, but not therefore is it the “general welfare,” for what is private, particular in its nature, is not and cannot be general. To understand by general welfare that which is for the individual welfare of all or the greater number, would be to claim for the General government all the powers of government, and to deny that very division of powers which is the crowning merit of the American system”

And I’ll end with this last quotation from Stanlis:

“This perceptive statement, when applied to the “New Deal” of the 1930s, explains why the states have suffered in the division of powers between themselves and the Federal Government, and why the private welfare of individual rights has been obliterated by general welfare federal programs.”

(One brief counter to this idea of repealing the 22A. If the President only has four years there’s a chance that the executive branch will become even more unbearable. Imagine if Bernie Sanders were elected and had only four years to turn these United States into Sweden? He would be far less worried about upsetting the populace and losing reelection, thereby be far more willing to take unpopular risks. But its still only four years! And a good President would have the same incentive to not care about public opinion which might allow more rollback of entitlements. There are always trade offs, these trade offs seem better than the ones we currently live with in these United States.)

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