Notes from around the Human Experience…
STOP US IF YOU HEARD THIS BEFORE: In a recent column we came out against term limits, a long-held position, on the theory that the best form of term limits are the regular elections we enjoy as Americans. That we keep electing people who provide lousy government is our fault, not theirs.
Circumstantially, of course, term limits work, preventing people from serving longer than the law allows. Intrinsically, though, do they help provide better government? Let’s take a look.
Dry, Technical Matter: Currently, the president of the United States is limited to two terms, the only federal term limit, enacted after everybody wet their pants after Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) was elected president four times.
It’s difficult to quantify the effects the 22nd Amendment has had on the presidency, however. Seven times one party has held the White House for consecutive terms and six times the other party won the White House, the only exception George H. W. Bush succeeding Ronald Reagan. The times of this period, while challenging, have not been as momentous as FDR’s time, and we don’t think the merits of the 22nd Amendment are particularly clear.
Get Your Official Daily Dose Policy Right Here: We think America needed every day of FDR’s presidency. FDR’s genius came not from his specific policies, but in his brilliance in mobilizing America – from those on the front lines to those who made the planes and ships and ammunition – to put the work in that was required to win World War II. For this, he was in the right person in the right place at the right time and we are not entirely sure anyone else could have done that. Had FDR been limited to two terms, our country and world might a far different than they are now.
Food For Thought: FDR did his work well and like Abraham Lincoln died after his work was more or less completed.
Back On Message: Additionally, 36 states have gubernatorial term limits, while 15 states limit the terms their legislators can serve. A complete analysis of this is, thankfully, beyond the scope of this column, but our native California provides a useful, though admittedly not all-inclusive, example.
Service in the California State Assembly is limited to six years and California state senators are limited to two four-year terms. Nothing has really changed in that time. California state government is still a fiasco, in no small part because nobody has any real, long-term experience. Any legislator’s experience and working knowledge is, by definition, limited.
Oh Yeah: Additionally, because legislators have a limited amount of time to make their mark, fundraising, and all its attendant special interest evils, is as important as ever.
More Effing Daily Dose Policy: All term limits do is prevent citizens from voting for whom they want. Of course, the argument that we currently do not have good people in our government is valid: by even the most charitable standards our government is partisan, fractured, bickering mess. But whose fault is that? You can’t blame congressmen and senators. They are merely politicians trying to retain power.
The fault is ours. We elected everyone there.
The Bottom Line: If we do not have good people running our country, we have nobody to blame but ourselves. To blame incumbents, the media or lobbyists is not productive. Nobody fills out our ballot for us.
All it takes to make America great again is concerned, conscientious and demanding citizens taking command on Election Day. The government we want and deserve is always as close as the next election.
ON THIS DATE! ON THIS DATE!: Old Ironsides, the USS Constitution, is launched in Boston Harbor on this date in 1797. It was the third attempt. The first two attempts had only gotten the Constitution partway down the ramp.
FunFact: Over the centuries the Constitution has served America in a variety of functions, and currently is a museum ship in Boston Harbor. It last sailed in 2012 and is the oldest commissioned naval ship still afloat in the world.
Hut, Hut Hike: Fred Dryer of the Los Angeles Rams becomes the only player in NFL history to record two safeties in one game on this date in 1973. Both safeties occurred within five minutes of each other in the fourth quarter of a game in Los Angeles won by the Rams 24-7.
The Post Game Show Is Brought To You By Cal Worthington And His Dog Spot: With the win, the Rams moved to 6-0 on their way to winning the NFC West with a 12-2 record. The Packers fell to 2-2-2.
Quotebook: The hasty stroke goes oft astray. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
Answer To The Last Trivia Question: No, the 22nd Amendment limiting presidents of the United States to two terms does not apply to vice presidents. The 12th Amendment, however, does specify that no one is ineligible for the presidency shall serve as vice president.
Today’s Stumper: When did the USS Constitution last fight a battle for the United States? – Answer next time!