A controversial New York University professor of history and education has dared to walk into the dynamite storehouse of the 22nd Amendment with a lighted torch. Jonathan Zimmerman, in an opinion column with the Washington Post, wants to eliminate term limits for presidents. Using President Obama as his torch Zimmerman states that the present lame-duck leader does not instill concern with present lawmakers because they have nothing to fear. Zimmerman opines that fear would come into play if there were no term limits. He adds, "Nor does Obama have to fear the voters, which might be the scariest problem of all. If he chooses, he could simply ignore their will. And if the people wanted him to serve another term, why shouldn’t they be allowed to award him one?" He reminds us that President George Washington voluntarily stepped down after serving two terms thus setting the matrix for the next 140 years until the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who served an unprecedented four terms. That changed when Congress voted in 1947 for a Constitutional amendment that would limit the term and length of the presidency. Forty-one states ratified it, including Missouri, and it became law on February 27, 1951. Zimmerman isn’t the first to call for a repeal of the 22nd Amendment. Last January, New York Democratic Congressman Jose Serrano (for the ninth time) introduced a bill that would allow President Obama to seek as many terms as he wishes providing the American electorate agrees through their votes. The Republicans control the House and none of Serrano’s bills have ever been advanced. Snopes.com reveals that in the past 20 years there have been numerous attempts to keep George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton in office beyond their terms. The same was attempted for Ronald Reagan. Reagan forces event tried to get former president Gerald Ford to run as his vice-president but Ford declined. The interest is there to rethink term-limits as evidenced by Professor Zimmerman’s column going viral via the Internet and social media. It begs the question: If popular presidents like Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Reagan, and Clinton had more time in office would America have benefited? As for President Obama, many agree, all the signs point toward another term and another objective look at the 22nd Amendment. I give you President John Adams’s toast: (who, unfortunately, like his son John Quincy, only served one term) Independence forever.
Jerry Plantz lives in Lee's Summit.