Term limits & the Founding Fathers
What were George Washington’s views on this topic?There was no official limit to the number of terms a President could run for until shortly after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in his fourth consecutive term. This created the twenty-second amendment stating:
“No person shall be elected to the office of President more than twice…”
However, after Washington rejected running for a third time for the Presidency, he created a tradition of informal term limits. Roosevelt was the only President to successfully break Washington’s tradition in 1941 when he was elected a third time.
How about Thomas Jefferson?
“The Jeffersonian Perspective
Commentary on Today’s Social and Political Issues
Based on the Writings of Thomas Jefferson
Term Limits & Citizen Legislators
“[If the] representative houses [are dissolved,]… the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, [return] to the people at large for their exercise.” –Thomas Jefferson: Declaration of Independence, 1776.
The people perform whatever functions of government they are competent to perform and delegate to persons of their choice those functions for which they are not competent.
“We think experience has proved it safer for the mass of individuals composing the society to reserve to themselves personally the exercise of all rightful powers to which they are competent and to delegate those to which they are not competent to deputies named and removable for unfaithful conduct by themselves immediately.” –Thomas Jefferson to P. Dupont, 1816.
Was Congress and the Office of President intended to be in the hands of professional politicians, or did the Founding Fathers mean for private citizens to become involved in politics, to hold office for a few terms, and then to return to private life? Clearly, Jefferson considered the ultimate source of governmental power to rest in the people themselves.
stay tuned for more on this subject