“Three new rules for US Presidents”

That’s the title of an interesting article by LZ Granderson at CNN.  It appeared some time ago, but for some reason I didn’t notice it until today (that’s perhaps not surprising, because Mr. Granderson’s articles are not my usual sort of reading matter!).  Nevertheless, I found myself nodding vigorously in agreement at this one.  Here’s an excerpt.

Today, given how money, special interest groups and technology, including electronic media, have diseased the entire political process, I believe it’s time we considered some sweeping changes.

And I believe those changes should start at the very top — the president. There are three ways America can make the presidency better equipped to respond to the 21st century world.

The first would recognize that the functioning of the federal government is impeded by a president’s bid to run for re-election. So how can we change that? We start by eliminating second terms.

. . .

When you think about it, the first year is spent operating under the previous administration’s budget, and part of the third and all of the fourth are spent running for re-election. Essentially we give a new president about 18 months to focus on creating meaningful policies. A good chunk of the rest of the term is spent fundraising.

But what if we were to amend the Constitution so that each president gets only one six-year term? He or she spends five years focused on governing without handwringing over a bid for re-election.

The second change: a requirement that no person could be elected president without prior military experience.

I’m OK with GOP candidates questioning Obama’s foreign policy. I’m not OK with all of this tough talk about Iran, with the risk of starting another war, by Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, who chose not to serve during the Vietnam War.

Military experience does not necessarily mean serving in wartime, and clearly military experience alone doesn’t guarantee a sharp strategic mind (insert President George W. Bush joke here).

But it just seems logical that if you’re going to be called commander in chief, there should something tangible on your resume to suggest that title has been earned and not handed to you by a super PAC. It was our 34th president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who said, “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can.”

. . .

The third change I would like to see may seem small, but it’s a long overdue amendment: Raise the age of eligibility to run for president from 35 to 45 — and cap it at 70.

I know, I know, President Reagan was great — for some — but we don’t need to be wondering if the person we elect is going to die while in the White House. And since 35 is the new 25, we definitely don’t need an inexperienced youngster with his or her finger on the button either.

We’re living longer and getting married later, so it would only stand to reason that we alter the age window to reflect those changes. And in this same vein, it would also make sense to establish term limits on members of Congress, and cap the amount of money one can spend on elections.

There’s more at the link.  Bold print is my emphasis.

Y’know, for the life of me, I can’t think of a single negative in any of those proposals.  I’d vote for this slate of Constitutional amendments in a heartbeat!  What say you, readers?



  1. I'd go for most of it, except for term limits for Congress.

    If you want to see what happens from term limits, look at California's legislature.

    Basically, every legislator spends all their time in the Assembly setting themselves up for their Senate runs. They spend all their time in the Senate setting themselves up for their US Congress runs.

    So who runs the state? Mostly the lobbyists, since they're the only folks who've been around long enough to know what they're doing.

  2. Lipstick on a pig, I fear: These changes can't cause fedgov to adhere to its charter of limited, enumerated powers any better than it does now.

  3. Regarding a presidential term limit, as one has pointed out years ago, 6 years is too short for a good president, and too long for a bad one.

  4. So we make the Presidency a single four-year term. I don't see any reason to lengthen it. Just get rid of 'em after four, and move on.

    State laws are a whole different issue, and must be addressed by the state's voters, so it's not really germane to the discussion. I still think all federal offices, including those of political appointees, should be subject to term limits.

  5. I propose that NO elected politician can serve more than 3 2-year terms in the House, nor more than 1 6-year term in the Senate, nor more than 1 4-year term as President or Vice-President, nor more than a combined total of 14 years in elected office at the federal level.
    Further, they receive no pension, no benefits, no renumeration of any sort for their government service once they leave office.

  6. I know I am going to be wildly unpopular for this…I've seen the 'must have military experience' idea pop up as part of the solution for issues with the civil service and with politicians. I like it, emotionally. BUT.

    As an historian it sets off warning bells. First off, there have been any number of political leaders who have not had military experience but have been competent political leaders. Or whose service came during the historical anomalies of WWI and WWII. Aside from internal civil wars, such mass mobilization of industrialized/wealthy countries did not happen previously and (God willing) won't happen again.

    I agree that people who have not served cannot understand the military's culture; but understanding the military's internal culture does not guarantee a good grasp of foreign policy. It could just as easily lead to using the military to solve problems better suited to other branches of the foreign service. The internal tension between State and the Pentagon is no bad thing for foreign policy as a whole, even if it is a nightmare for those involved.

    Secondly, the military, post Vietnam, is a self-selected group. For good reason. Demanding that the people's representative should be drawn from a self-selected group has never been an historically good idea. It tends to warp both the group and the representative/leader. It breeds 'Us vs. Them' almost immediately. Combine that with closed control of the military: see Prussia/Weimar Republic, nineteenth century. Or for self-selected groups in general: see the British Empire.

    Lastly, there are a lot of people who physically cannot serve (maybe they are too short), whose family obligations prevent them, or who choose to do something else between the ages of 18-35. To assume that a good president cannot come from that group… 'Us vs Them' again.

    Replace 'military' in this sentence with 'teacher': 'you shouldn't control the military because you weren't part of it' (which is basically the root of the argument) Does anyone think that the teachers' unions being completely above the control of those who are not part of the union is a good thing? That would be the end result, to the detriment of both the military and the country.

    Full disclosure: I have no military service, nor am I a teacher.

  7. How about we set a limit that the most that can be spent on media for a political campaign is $250,000. Require television and radio stations using public airwaves that require an FCC license donate specified time frames for the debates which would air biweekly throughout the campaign. I also like term limits but 6 years is too long. I don't think this country could survive 6 years of an Obama or Jimmy Carter.

  8. Really just band aides for the fact that far too many voters choose candidates for the wrong reasons.


  9. I think Don is on to it here. Take out the 'goodies' package and then perhaps, juts perhaps, only well-intended people of service will apply for the jobs. After all a government of the people should have the same bennies (or lack thereof) as the people they serve.

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