I was mulling the subject of this thread. The briefest of studies of history shows that society benefits from stability. So imagine that the Presidential term were a very long time - say 25 years. Your vote becomes incredibly important as you’ll only get a couple in a lifetime. Would the benefits of stability outweigh the benefits of structured change? Imagine having Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan (first time around) for 25 years. Plus the President gets to spend a considerable time on the job, hopefully learning and increasing their national and international stature.
We are going to handwave the checks and balances that would be required and just assume that they exist.
And what if you got a real stinker? Not criminal–nothing that could reasonably be grounds for impeachment (though practically, all impeachment requires is what, 51% of the House?), but just someone who was a bumbler or, alternately, just didn’t do much of anything. (Leaving aside for another day the debate that maybe the best President is the one who does least… :D) Per the Constitution, we’d be stuck.
Seriously, nah. The POTUS has, IMO, too much power as it is. At least now the officeholder has to worry a bit about re-election, and thus being somewhat accountable to at least some of the people in the country…
You need a way, an EASY way to recall a stinker president. Regularly scheduled confidence votes by congress, or the public, where a supermajority of some sort is required to force a new election.
25 years still seems too long, anyone with a decent amount of life experience at the start (say 50 years) is going to be positively ancient at the end of their term. 10-15 years sounds more appropriate to me.
I have a hard time thinking that anyone could stay in for 25 years, in that case. Look at what we’ve had in the last 25–Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II. Attitudes and public opinion shift, and the entire point of having this democratic republic thing we’ve got is to allow the gov’t to reflect those shifts.
You’d essential cap the age of a presidential candidate at 50 years. And even then he may be getting pretty dotty towards the end.
Frankly, I’d be surprised if many people could survive a 25 year presidential term. It’s a very high stress job, even without worrying about re-elections, and it takes its toll. Look at pictures of Clinton from before and towards the end of his term. He looks more than eight years older to me. And he served during a time of peace and economic prosperity.
It’s just too much to ask an electorate to predict. They can’t know what the nation would be like, or how the president himself would change, 25 years down the line. The best presidential choice in 2008 is unlikely to be the best choice in 2033.
The quadrennial presidential election is a very important cultural rite in this country, if nothing else. It gets people excited and makes them feel engaged in public affairs. You want to reduce it to four times a century? Also, think of the economic impact! Think of the poor political consultants, spin doctors, TV ad salescritters, and journalists! Ya wanna throw 'em out of work?!
I submit that we DO have stability in our current system. We have the stability of knowing we are country based on the rule of law, not the rule of men. And we have the stability of knowing that no matter how wacky it gets, in less than 8 years, he/she/whoever it is, will be gone. That is pretty powerful.
Considering the mental and physical decline of Reagan (who under your plan would just have left office 2 months ago, were it not for the being dead thing), I think it would radically change who would be electable. Doddering old men aside, we’re now talking about electing 30 or 40 year-olds, if we want them to have any realistic chance of being of sound mind and body for their whole term.
I’m 31. The idea of one of my age mates becoming president is frightening. I know it’s legally possible now, but it ain’t ever gonna happen under our present system. Your proposition begs it.
Queen Victoria was 18 when she took the throne. Elizabeth I was 25. Edward I was 33. So the first thing we need to do is remove the requirement that a President be at least 35.
In the 20th century, only four Presidents have even lived 25 years after they took office – Hoover, Truman, Nixon and Ford. Even Teddy Roosevelt, the youngest person to become President, only lived 18 more years.
But let’s say we find someone we like enough and who’s young enough that we want him/her around for the next 25 years. What do we do about a Vice President? That means we have to find TWO someones we like.
Let’s see who would have been President. I’ll assume when the office becomes vacant the historical President and Vice President would have been elected. If somebody dies in office, I’ll follow the line of succession and have them complete the original term.
First administration 1789-1814
George Washington 1789-1799
John Adams 1799-1814
Second administration 1814-1839
James Madison 1814-1836
Robert Smith 1836-1839 (both of Madison’s VPs were dead by 1836. Smith was Madison’s Secretary of State)
Third administration 1839-1864
Martin Van Buren 1839-1862
Amos Kendall 1862-1864 (Van Buren outlived his VP and most of his cabinet. Kendall was Postmaster General)
Fourth administration 1864-1889
Abraham Lincoln 1864-1865
Andrew Johnson 1865-1875
Hugh McCulloch 1875-1889 (the former Treasurer)
Fifth administration 1889-1914
Benjamin Harrison 1889-1901
Levi Morton 1901-1914
Fifth administration 1914-1939
Woodrow Wilson 1914-1924
Thomas Marshall 1924-1925
Bainbridge Colby 1925-1939 (Secretary of State)
Sixth adminstration 1939-1964
Franklin Roosevelt 1939-1945
Harry Truman 1945-1964
Seventh administration 1964-1989
Lyndon Johnson 1964-1973
Hubert Humphrey 1973-1978
Dean Rusk 1978-1989 (Secretary of State)
Eighth administration 1989-2014
George H. W. Bush 1989-present