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Too Soon a 'Lame Duck'

Posted by Bob Moore on

The American system of electing a president is broken. No, I am not talking about the Electoral College, though it deserves a good overhaul. Nor am I talking about the flow of money and the rise of super PACs who have little accountability for what they say and who funds it. I am talking about the 22nd Amendment which limits presidents to two terms.

This slap at FDR along with a presidential election season that stretches over the final two years in a sitting President’s term has left second term presidents with virtually no time to pursue their legislative agenda. A re-elected president has approximately one year  in their new term before the upcoming midterm election and the fascination with the next president, crowd them to the side and render them yesterday’s news.

If the opposition party gains control of Congress in a president’s last midterm election, the influence of that president is virtually gone. Note the lack of accomplishments in Clinton’s final two years in office. And who wants to relive those final two years of deathwatch over the George W. Bush presidency as a Democratic Congress ignored all of Bush’s agenda?

The 22nd Amendment was a knee jerking reaction to FDR’s four wins. Prior to FDR the electoral and party systems were quite capable of limiting presidents without a constitutional limit. However, the possibility of a third term allowed a president to maintain political credibility and power that is now missing. With this Amendment we essential have a five year presidency followed by a meandering period of weak leadership and a foot-dragging Congress that delays significant action in the hopes that their party will occupy the White House.

Scandal, voter fatigue, and a president’s lack of focus in the second term usually are enough of a correction in the system to keep us from returning a president to the White House a third time. However, the possibility (threat?) would be enough to keep a president relevant for a second four years. We cannot afford to keep wasting years on weak leadership resulting from a faulty Amendment.

Opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Andy Rapp, Q-TV, Delta College, or PBS.

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Currently Speaking host Andy Rapp

Veteran journalist Andy Rapp has been hosting Currently Speaking since 1999.

Each week, he's joined live in the studio by journalists, academics, and experts. Along with viewers at home, they tackle the local, national, and global issues that matter most.