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Reflections on term limits
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Last week, I covered six constitutional amendments that expanded the American electorate and our power to vote. This week, comes the saga of the Twenty-Second Amendment, which took away our right to elect a person to the office of president for more than two full terms.
The Twenty-Second Amendment (proposed March 21, 1947, adopted Feb. 27, 1951) states, “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person who may be holding the office of President when this article was proposed by Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.” 
When you cut through all the jargon and redundancy in this amendment, it makes a little more sense. When you delve into who was behind it, and why, it makes a lot more sense -- politically, I mean.
Credit Republicans and other Franklin D. Roosevelt foes for hatching the presidential “term limit egg.” For it was FDR who had violated the time-honored tradition begun by President George Washington, who refused to seek a third term as president and galloped home to his beloved Mount Vernon in 1797.
The two-term limit was good enough for George Washington. His noble presidential  precedent lasted for nearly 150 years.
However, after seeking and winning a second term in 1936, FDR had the audacity to go after and gain an unprecedented third term in 1940. Incredibly, he ran for, and won, a fourth term in 1944, but died of a stroke in Warm Springs, Ga., on April 12, 1945. Vice President Harry S. Truman became  President.
FDR was dead and gone, but his political opponents, notably the Republicans, were still mighty miffed with the Democrat Dynasty he had spawned, and the man he had hand-picked to succeed him, if necessary.
Given the intensely political nature of the Twenty-Second Amendment and the implications for limiting voters’ choices, ratification took nearly four years. Republicans and others would come to rue the day the controversial amendment was ratified, especially when it would bar Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan from seeking a third term, had they desired to run.
Nowadays, Republicans, disillusioned Democrats, and independents, too, seem to like presidential term limits just fine, especially in 2016. 
One more thing, if term limits are good for presidents, wouldn’t they be even better to curtail career politicians in Congress? 
Retired Army Col. Thomas B. Vaughn can be reached at