The 21st Amendment, which limits someone from being elected as president more than two times, was ratified in February 1951; but was initiated in the conservative led Congress in 1947. It was in reaction to FDR winning his 4th term combined with his progressive policies. Myth has it that George Washington set the two term precedent on purpose ... he didn't. In fact four presidents tried for a third term prior to FDR, all failed.
However, was this what the founding fathers had in mind with they wrote the Constitution? At least from reading Federalist Paper #71, Alexander Hamilton support no term limits on the "Chief Magistrate", as he called the President.
The question is - would he have opposed the 21st Amendment in 1947?
Didn't the 21st repeal prohibition? You mean the 22nd, which was passed in 1951.
Mr. Hamilton having an 18th century mindset and from the point of view of his world I think would have opposed the introduction of term limits as contrary to the Constitution, as written. What basis would he have had to impose a restraint? I have a hard time understanding the necessity of the 22nd Amendment as ratified in 1947.
Consider the political makeup in the late 40s and early 50s; it had moved very much to the Right and they were very much opposed to FDR and his policies. Apparently, Thomas Dewey got things rolling with a comment he made, although Wendell Wilkie whined about it as well before his loss to FDR.
… the first paragraph in single sentences:
"It is a general principle of human nature, that a man will be interested in whatever he possesses, in proportion to the firmness or precariousness of the tenure by which he holds it;
will be less attached to what he holds by a momentary or uncertain title, than to what he enjoys by a durable or certain title;
and, of course, will be willing to risk more for the sake of the one, than for the sake of the other.
This remark is not less applicable to a political privilege, or honor, or trust, than to any article of ordinary property.
The inference from it is, that a man acting in the capacity of chief magistrate, under a consciousness that in a very short time he MUST lay down his office, will be apt to feel himself too little interested in it to hazard any material censure or perplexity, from the independent exertion of his powers, or from encountering the ill-humors, however transient, which may happen to prevail, either in a considerable part of the society itself, or even in a predominant faction in the legislative body.
If the case should only be, that he MIGHT lay it down, unless continued by a new choice, and if he should be desirous of being continued, his wishes, conspiring with his fears, would tend still more powerfully to corrupt his integrity, or debase his fortitude.
In either case, feebleness and irresolution must be the characteristics of the station."
(Could the average person of the time understand???)
Read the rest of paper No. 71 here:
Based on human nature, a president will value a long term position, (firmness of tenure,) more than a short term position, (precariousness of the tenure,) and will:
1. work for re-election
2. do a better job
because "… a man will be interested in whatever he possesses …"
He will not be interested in what he does not possess.
Hamilton might have thought it would be better if we had not limited the terms. Let the people decide.
In this race, Obama might have had a third shot !!!
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