Could Donald Trump Serve a Third Term Or More?

  • Never in the history of mankind has there been a society, economic system or form of government that has stood the test of time.
  • In the words of George Orwell “The object of power is power.”
  • History is littered with men doing unspeakable things to remain in power.

On the surface, the question of Donald Trump serving three terms seems absurd. Essentially, the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution states that a president can only be elected to two terms in office. To most of us, the question is not even in the realm of reality. We don’t even think about it. Serving a maximum of two terms is a a given. Given everything that has happened over the last three years, however, I believe we need to begin to entertain this possibility.

Prior to the ratification of the amendment, the president had not been subject to term limits, but George Washington had established a two-term tradition that many other presidents had followed. In the 1940 presidential election and the 1944 presidential election, Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first president to win a third term and then later a fourth term, giving rise to concerns about the potential issues involved with a president serving an unlimited number of terms. Congress approved the Twenty-second Amendment on March 24, 1947, and submitted it to the state legislatures for ratification.

If you haven’t been paying attention, we are breaking new ground nearly every day with what is going on in the executive branch of our government. It has been a complete and utter circus. It seems we shatter new lows daily with regards to morals, character and honor. This is not to say that our presidents in recent history have been stellar moral characters. They have not. I would argue that since Kennedy, we have had as few as one but no more than three presidents that were of sound character.

However, none of them, with the exception of maybe Nixon, appear to be as deeply disturbed on a personal level as Trump. Trump has proven he is a narcissist, a megalomaniac, a corrupt leader, and a master of mass deception at a minimum. He has tested the Constitution since he first stepped in office and even before. And to date, he has gotten away with everything. He has stepped all over the Constitution, the checks and balances of Congress, and the freedom of the press among others. These are the very hallmarks of our democracy. He has praised dictators, admired there lifetime appointments, and has even “joked’ about serving beyond two terms—on several occasions. All of the ingredients are there for an unprecedented event in American history. Trump has not, to this point, demonstrated that he knows any limits. So why would we assume he won’t continue this behavior?

At the heart of the problem is nobody has held this president accountable–not Congress, not his administration, and not the Department of Justice. Various court rulings have come down against him in various cases, but that is the extent of it. Even a good portion of the American people have fallen for the rhetoric and the propaganda of Trump. It is shaping up to be a proverbial Molotov cocktail. Again, to those who think this scenario is not possible, I only point to history as “Exhibit A.” Never in the history of mankind has there been a society, economic system or form of government that has stood the test of time. Every single one has crumbled. It is not of matter of “if” ours crumbles, it is a matter of when it crumbles and under what circumstances.

As a child, I was fascinated with how Hitler was allowed to carry out his atrocities. It seemed impossible to me that a society would allow this to happen—and to even participate. I simply didn’t understand. It was incomprehensible. Maybe this is one reason that led me to study sociology. Hitler rose to and stayed in power due to a combination of social unrest, the promise of economic prosperity, nationalism, his own mental illness, propaganda, charisma, and the by the enabling of those around him among other factors. Sound familiar? And we all know how that turned out.

Since Kennedy, we have had as few as one but no more than three presidents that were of sound character.

The most recent example of someone attempting to extend his term in office is none other than Rudy Giuliani. He tried to use the 9/11 crisis as a reason to stay in power. Obviously, Giuliani has shown he has major influence in the White House and has demonstrated erratic behavior and questionable judgement. Furthermore, we have seen the lengths Trump has gone to to get elected in 2016 and to stay elected in 2020. Despite ample evidence, he has yet to be held accountable. Another variable that may or may not be significant is what will happen to Trump when he leaves office. The Mueller Report made it clear that basically the only reason the charges did not go further is that a sitting president can not be indicted, as interpreted and instructed by Trump appointee William Barr’s Department of Justice. When Trump becomes a private citizen, he possibly could be fair game to a long list of criminal charges. He would obviously want to avoid this. But at what cost? He has proven he only cares about himself. So this variable is of concern.

How this potential staying in power could play out is anybody’s guess. But awareness is a great thing to have. In the words of George Orwell in 1984 “The object of power is power.” Our current president has done nothing to disprove this quote. History is littered with men doing unspeakable things to remain in power. We should not think we are immune to anything less. In the great words of Abraham Lincoln (which a recent poll showed the majority of Republicans feel Trump is a better president than Lincoln, something which is “Exhibit Z” of concern) “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” Or we could go with Trump who is quoted as saying, “My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented, are various other parts of my body.”  It is past time to be concerned.

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Greg Hood

Greg Hood is a freelance writer, a social work professional and a proud father currently residing in Charlotte, NC.

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