Amendment XXII – A Debate

Amendment XXII gives a two-term limit on presidency, and only allows a vice-president who takes over a president with other 2-years left in office, one more term.

41 of the 48 states agreed to ratify the proposal, with only 2 rejecting the amendment. It was made clear in the amendment that it would not affect those already in office, and so made it an easy choice for many states. Roosevelt had an unprecedented four terms in office, and so he had 16 years to make many major changes. The idea of having limits goes deep in US politics and delegates to the constitutional conventions considered the issue because of the fear of a leader maintaining too much power for too long.

There was an original plan from the 1787 delegates that the president wouldn’t have term limits and would be elected by congress, but saw the possibility of “corrupt bargains” where a President could give favours to congressmen in exchange for election. F. H. Buckley says term limits are America’s version of Britain’s motion’s of no confidence, and therefore brings British Prime Minister’s terms down to a similar length. Term limits install a level of protection from having too much power for too long, as it prevents a president from gaining too much experience and therefore learning how they can game the system to get their own way, such as learning which senators will vote a certain way and therefore in their own favour.

The role and power of the president has increased significantly since the Amendment was introduced, and if the power reached into the wrong hands, the damage could be even more detrimental than in the 40s.

In exchange for term limits and the protection of a leader with too much power, we lack the benefit of experienced leaders. In 1940, before the amendment, American’s faced a problem. Would they want to vote to give a leader with 12 years experience, Roosevelt, a 4th term in office or give it away to an unexperienced Wendell Willkie. This is the heart of the debate, what they gain in political freedom, they lose in experienced leaders. There is evidence to show that major mistakes and flailing occurs within the first 2 years of office – particularly with foreign policy – and with the 22nd amendment these occur far more often. For example with Obama’s Afghanistan Policy in 2009.

Repealing the 22nd amendment would lessen the possibility of stumbles and would remove the opportunity of having to constantly choose an unseasoned president. It wouldn’t require presidents to run again, or even immediately after. But if the opportunity was presented we would allow slightly more democracy in terms of who can become president.

 

US Constitution vs. Iran’s Constitution

As an Islamic republic, Iran’s constitution can vary quite differently to that of the US’. The Iranian constitution is of a much younger age only being codified in 1979 following a referendum and thus replacing the 1905 constitution. The US’ however is the grandfather of all, being ratified in 1788.

Being a country under is Islamic rule the constitution has a difficult and confusing position. It has been described as a hybrid of theocratic and democratic. In the first two articles, it states that sovereignty is vested in Allah (God) while article 6 it mandates popular elections for presidency and parliaments. All laws have a final decision by the Supreme Leader who has a life tenure – unless dismissed by the ‘Assembly of Experts’ who also appoints the supreme leader. The Assembly of Experts is democratic, although confusing. In summary, 88 elected members – who have to be approved by the supreme leader – sit to make decisions on the Supreme Leader. Another important party is the Guardian Council who is a 12-member body who supervise elections, approve candidates and ensure the constitution is abided to. A majority of the constitution stems from Islamic law and so is quite similar to other Islamic countries each with key differences in their earthly sovereign rule. Chapter Eight (Articles 107-112) spell out the powers of the supreme leader. Article 146 dictates there should be no foreign military bases in Iran – even for peaceful purposes. Although Article 175 guarantees freedom of expression in Radio & Television, it almost contradicts itself by then creating an organisation who will help keep media to Islamic criteria and to the best interests of the country.

As stated the US Constitution is the grandfather of many constitutions as its the first that still remains in use today. There is very little to say about religion in the US constitution which vastly contrasts the Iranian constitution. The US constitution also lays out a very different operation in terms of the bodies used in government. The government is lead by a president who is elected every four years by a nationwide popular vote using a controversial voting system named the electoral college. The first 10 ‘amendments’ are known as the bill of rights that give protections to liberty & justice and rules to place restrictions on government. The remaining 17 amendments expand on individual civil rights. The constitution still remains on 4 pages of parchment paper as which it was originally written on. Unlike other codified constitutions the US’ amendments are appended (attached to the bottom) to the original document rather than changing it. The first three words are ‘We the people’ and many take this as an affirmation that the government’s main purpose is to serve the citizens.