It is bad enough that we have four more years of George WMD Bush. But what if we had Bush for eight more years? What if Bush was president for life?
The twenty-second amendment to the Constitution, which limits the president to two terms, was proposed on March 21, 1947. Within the next two months, eighteen states ratified the amendment. On February 27, 1951, Minnesota became the thirty-sixth state to ratify the amendment, thus making it part of the Constitution.
The amendment reads as follows:
- No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President, when this Article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.
- This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.
As everyone should have learned in high school government class, this amendment was a direct result of Franklin Roosevelt’s unprecedented election to four terms as president. Since the United States was involved in a war, the general consensus was that it would be unwise to replace the president in the middle of a war even though he had already served two terms. He should have been thrown out of office for getting the country into a war in the first place (see Robert Stinnett’s Day Of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor).
Without the twenty-second amendment, a man could conceivably be elected president and subsequently reelected for life. Although it might be argued that there would be nothing wrong with a good president holding the office for life, when was the last time we had a president who could be considered good as far as the principles of liberty and peace are concerned? For the Republicans, perhaps Calvin Coolidge (1872—1933)? Certainly the last good Democrat was Grover Cleveland (1837—1908).
There is a move in Congress to repeal this amendment. The most recent attempt is H.J. Res. 24, introduced on February 17 of this year by the House Democratic Whip, Steny Hoyer (D-MD). It has four cosponsors — Howard Berman (D-CA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Martin Sabo (D-MN), and F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI). This resolution was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution. An identical resolution was introduced on January 4 by Jose Serrano (D-NY). It too was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution. Both resolutions simply read: “The twenty-second article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is repealed.”
The 109th Congress is not the first Congress that has attempted to repeal the twenty-second amendment. Resolutions calling for its repeal can be found in almost every Congress.
Rep. Serrano introduced the same resolution in the previous four Congresses. In the 105th and 106th Congresses, he was joined by the aforementioned Steny Hoyer and Barney Frank (D-MA). In the 104th Congress, Hoyer and Frank were joined by Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in the Senate. In the 101st Congress, there were five resolutions in the House and one in the Senate to repeal the twenty-second amendment. Two of those House resolutions (H.J. Res. 6 & H.J. Res. 176) also called for a single six-year term for the president and vice president as well as the repeal of the twenty-second amendment. This same proposal was also introduced in every Congress going back until at least the 96th Congress in 1980.
If there have been so many attempts to repeal the twenty-second amendment, then why should anyone be overly concerned about calls for its repeal while Bush is the president? The answer is that Bush, more than any president I have ever seen or studied, has been deified by his supporters. Many people are in love with President Bush. He is their leader, their hero. The way some of his supporters talk, he is not only the greatest president; he is the greatest man to ever walk the planet. When Bush came to my town of Pensacola, Florida, he spoke at the civic center to cheering crowds. It looked like a giant pep rally.
In the minds of many Republicans and conservatives, to be against George Bush is to be against America. Denigration of the president is tantamount to treason. Bush supersedes the Constitution; criticism of the president is to be relegated to “free speech zones” or “protest zones.” If one is not with him then one is with the terrorists who hate America.
This strange infatuation with the president can also be found among Christians. Many evangelicals think he is one of them. God called Bush to run for president. The Lord put him in the White House. Bush was chosen by God to lead the country in the crusade against terrorism. The president overcame his drinking problem and other bad habits because he trusted in the Lord. He considers Jesus Christ to be the political philosopher he most identifies with. He reads his Bible every day along with daily passages from devotional books. Bush is a spiritual man of faith. (We know this because Paul Kengor said so in God and George W. Bush: A Spiritual Life and because David Aikman said so in A Man Of Faith: The Spiritual Journey of George W. Bush.) Listening to some preachers from the pulpit, one would think that Bush was the Messiah or the fourth member of the Trinity. Yet, even though Bush’s theology has been shown to be anti-Christian, support for Bush among Christians continues.
Could the twenty-second amendment be repealed in time for Bush to run for a third term? It is very unlikely that it would be repealed, and it is even less likely that Bush could actually win a third term. However, this has not deterred Bush supporters from hawking their wares:
If the 109th Congress wants to repeal something, it should start with the 498 new laws passed by the 108th Congress, all signed into law by President Bush without a single veto. Then it could repeal the Great Society and New Deal programs that are still with us. If that is not enough, then Congress could repeal 99 percent of all the legislation passed during the twentieth century that still affects us today. Then it’s on to the nineteenth century.
If Congress insists on repealing a constitutional amendment, it might want to consider the seventeenth amendment (direct election of senators) and the amendments that concern voting, thus returning authority over senators and voting to the states and hastening the process of decentralization.
God deliver us from leaders like George WMD Bush!