The President Should Have Only One 6-Year Term


Just about every pundit and casual observer is in agreement that our government is not functioning properly. Animosity and partisanship has overwhelmed Washington to the point that budgets cannot be passed, and politicians are unable to respond in a timely way to a never-ending string of economic crises. It is frightening to think about whether our national security is being negatively impacted by political in fighting. Even when both political parties agree that a problem exists, they cannot muster a consensus and enact appropriate legislation.

Many people are culpable for allowing the seizure of government. Of course, both political parties blame the other. Democrats say Republicans are obstructionists and are overly dominated by radical ideology. Republicans say Democrats are encouraging class warfare in the country, while unfairly increasing taxes on the wealthy. It is an understatement to say that the two political parties have far different versions of what will make America great.

The problems are being magnified because the current structure and rules of our government needs to be reformed. The filibuster is one example of how the minority party is able to bring the Senate to a standstill regarding individual initiatives by the majority. Historically, this legislative ploy was used sparingly by the opposition and by smaller states, which needed its protection. But now the vast majority of experts believe this parliamentary procedure is being abused to the detriment of the country.

The current president has proven to be unable to draw Washington out of its political funk. Some believe it is the fault of the opposition, and some say he has brought it on by offering unproductive changes to our society. It might be that the structure of the presidency has outlived its usefulness. Maybe it is too political and not focused enough on consensus building and caring for all Americans. Modern day presidents may be more concerned about their political parties and/or select special interests groups in the country than the general population.

Currently, the president is elected for a four-year term and is able to run again for an additional four years. Prior to 1951, presidents could run for office as many times as they wanted; out of tradition none did until Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Several years after FDR passed away in his four term, the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution was passed, which allowed the president to serve only two terms.

In recent years, campaigns of presidents have become extraordinary events that begin many months before the start of a new term and involve billions of dollars. In fact, raising money to campaign has become one of the most important and time-consuming activities of those who aspire to the office. But more problematic is that a sitting president charged with leading the country must spend an inordinate amount of time soliciting contributors and on the campaign trail.

The amount of time dedicated to retaining office by sitting presidents is not good for the country. And being in a constant mode of considering the political implications of every presidential decision, which range from security of our nation to managing its financing, reduces the effectiveness of the president.

The presidential term should be limited to one six-year period. This would require that a president campaign one time and be free of political pressures during his or her entire tenure. Naturally there a pros and cons to this proposal.

The positives of a one-term presidency are:

— The president can focus on doing his job and be less impacted by how his decisions will impact reelection and the status of his political party.

— The president will campaign once. Glad-handing and schmoozing with large contributors will not be necessary once elected.

— There will be less money spent on political campaigns because there will be less presidential elections.

— The impact of PACs and lobbyists will be somewhat tempered because of fewer elections.

— A more rapid changeover in the presidency will result in more ideas and hopefully more creativity.

The negatives are:

— The country will be straddled with a "bad" president for two extra years.

— If the president is elected at an advanced age, the risk of dying in office is greater.

— The people will be voting less times because there will be fewer elections. The electorate always participates more in an election of a president,

— Young people will be voting less. A person turning 18 just after a presidential election will not vote for a president until he or she is 24.

— A great president will have two less years to make an impact.

The downside of this proposal is far outweighed by the upside. Frankly, de-politicizing the presidency is an overwhelming benefit that would serve our country well.