How FDR’s Presidency inspired Term Limits


Franklin Delano Roosevelt – 1944

From JSTOR Daily by Peter Feuerherd:

President Donald J. Trump recently commented that the U.S. should take China’s lead and open the presidency to more than two terms. His political opponents reacted in horror, seeing it as another in a string of power plays by the incumbent shaking up American political tradition. The White House responded that Trump was joking. Still, many were not chuckling.

The Twenty-Second Amendment to the Constitution, proposed by Congress in 1947 and ratified by the states in 1951, confines any president to two elected terms. Proponents argued that the amendment was needed to ratify a sacred American tradition, begun by George Washington, that a president should step away from his duties after filling eight years. The only extension allowed is for a vice president who fills out a presidential term who then wins two election victories.

Opponents at the time argued that the amendment was a Republican reaction to Franklin D. Roosevelt, the only president ever elected more than twice. Roosevelt, who died April 12, 1945, had been elected to an unprecedented fourth term six months before. Republicans worried that another New Deal Democrat would monopolize presidential power for decades. Their concern was that incumbency granted presidents seeking unlimited terms a great advantage.

Read the rest of the article JSTOR Daily

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