What is it about that third Obama term?
Have you seen the meme that President Obama shared on Facebook that says, “SHARE if you would vote for a third Obama term if you could?” I did, and it made me pause, somewhat worried.
Before you get your tail feathers ruffled, and assume I am a conservative, or that I dislike the president’s politics…You should know that I have no party affiliation, and do not participate in politics. I am just an American in awe of our governmental structure.
And, no doubt, someone might tell me I have misunderstood the president’s reason for posting this item. The President is a funny guy, and this just a way to get a good laugh. After eight challenging and difficult years, he gets to bask in his accomplishments. Now a short-timer, let the man have a joke about this incredibly complex job he has done his best at.
But, here’s why I think this meme should concern every American:
After two terms, our first president, George Washington, voluntarily retired. He was a war hero who was elected twice unanimously to his office. He could have easily taken over the country simply from his position as Commander-in-Chief. He understood, however, that a reign of power of more than eight years was dangerous to the country because it set the president up to be king.
Washington was well-versed in the powers of the president. His own copy of the Constitution was marked with notes he’d made about what powers he did — and most importantly — did not have — as president. For almost 200 years, no one was elected to a third term as president, and early in our country, presidents naturally followed Washington’s lead and did not seek a third term.
During the Great Depression and World War II, Franklin Delano Roosevelt sought, and was elected, to four consecutive terms, but ultimately died during his fourth term. During his presidency, he extended the chief executive’s power phenomenally — more than Americans, who overwhelmingly liked him, were comfortable with. After Roosevelt’s death, our country sought, and saw the passage of, a Constitutional amendment to limit the terms that a president could serve to two full terms, and an allowance for anyone in the same shoes as Harry Truman, who took over as the President on Roosevelt’s death.
I respect our president immensely. I also respect anyone who has been president immensely— no matter his politics. The job is exceedingly difficult, and no matter how good or bad the president is, the president has to exhibit leadership and managerial skills that few of us can even begin to comprehend because the job is so complex. And, the president has to do all of this, the best he can, while being constantly attacked in the press, made fun of by comedians, demonized by political opponents, and derailed by party politics.
But, it disturbs me greatly as an American that this president has bragged for a few years that he knows he would be reelected for a third term, and that he promotes this idea. Is this a joke or a media campaign? Someone adept at politics knows that in this day and age, changing our Constitution is ultimately a matter of legislation — albeit in Congress and three-fourths of the states — but with people’s short attention spans, it’s nothing for a man whose greatest strength is mobilizing millions in the social media. Is it possible the president feels confident enough he could accomplish a change to the term limits in our Constitution with just a little grassroots organization?
The same reason people want term limits on Congress is the reason we HAVE term limits on the president. We should not forget this. Term limits on the presidential office is a HUGE protection to the American people’s freedom. With an executive branch that is rarely corralled by the Congress and Supreme Court, term limits guarantee that the American people have the opportunity every eight years to see a new executive.
Just because this president is capable and charming doesn’t mean we should keep him after he is term limited. He can be capable in any number of other positions, including governmental positions. There is history of past presidents serving as governors, in Congress, as diplomats, and as justices, after their presidencies.
If you appreciate President Obama’s work, encourage him to respect the Constitution which he has sworn and promised to uphold, and to move on to the next phase of his life (and our life) where he can be an incredible asset to our nation as a former president.