In most other political or business roles, one can serve for as long as they are able to perform their duties in the desired manner. However, the president of the United States is bound by the two-term rule. This was defined as per the Twenty-second Amendment (Amendment XXII) to the United States Constitution.
While the two-term rule has been enforced, there is not enough clarity on the rationale behind the rule. Here’s a look at some of the possible reasons as to why there are only two terms for the US president.
Nurturing the next generation of leaders – If a president is allowed to continue forever, it can lead to stagnation among the next generation of leaders. The type of leadership plays an important role in the success of a country. This is why there is a need to have a steady supply of good leaders. With a two-term limit, the constitution ensures that other leaders also get a chance to lead the country. It also helps avoid a vacuum created by unavailability of a tall political leader.
Corruption and complacency – If presidents are allowed to continue forever, the political system will become more like an elective monarchy. It will go against the tenets of democracy, where everyone gets a chance to reach their full potential.
Allowing presidents to continue forever can lead to complacency and may be corruption as well. List of US presidents alleged to have been involved in scandals include Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. A two-term limit seems like a good mechanism to discourage complacency and corruption.
Refresh the political arena – It is common knowledge that people get bored seeing the same face day after day. Even when a president may have fulfilled their duties in the best manner possible, the general public starts losing interest overtime. People losing interest in political affairs can be a negative development for a country. A two-term limit ensures that people get to see a new face more frequently. It is quite like infusing fresh blood into the political system of the country.
Age – By the time one becomes a US president, they are already in their 50s and even older. There are only a few exceptions when the candidate has been in their forties. Some examples include Theodore Roosevelt who started as the president at 42 years of age. Similarly, there’s John F. Kennedy (43 years), Bill Clinton (46 years) and Barack Obama (47 years).
Most other US presidents were in their 50s when they started their presidency. As being the US president is one of the toughest political roles, age could impact their performance and decision making. A two-term limit for US presidents ensures that the position is not impacted by potential mental and physical decline.
As is evident, the two-term limit for US presidents has multiple benefits. However, not everyone thinks that it is fair. Several attempts have been made to repeal the act, with some calling it as an infringement of one’s democratic rights. Some of the US presidents who had opposed the two-term presidential limit include Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. However, the two-term limit for US presidents has managed to survive all attempts to repeal it.