Democracy is supposed to mean voting for the best person for the job

Last week, Ottawa, Canada was home to the annual Three Amigo’s Summit in which the Presidents of the United States and Mexico along with the Prime Minister of Canada got to together to discuss the important issues facing North Americans.

President Obama, only six months away from stepping down as President, was given the opportunity to address the Canadian Parliament. He did not disappoint. Speaking to the mainly liberal Canadian House of Commons, he gave one of his classic Obama speeches that was humorous, serious and full of hope.

At the end of the speech, the Canadian Parliament erupted in thunderous applause and as Obama sat down, Canadian MPs began to shout “four more years! Four more years!” It’s clear most of us liberal Canucks still love the guy.

I may have my reservations about the man, but he is still the best president the United States has had since Carter, and arguably the most progressive. So why is America giving him the boot? Because of the twenty-second amendment to the United States Constitution.

In my opinion, the twenty-second amendment was another clear cut case of American overreaction. For more than a hundred and fifty years, there was no presidential term limits. Then along came Franklin D. Roosevelt who took the country out of the great depression and transformed the United States into a global superpower, he just needed a little more than an extra term to do it.

Up until FDR, serving only two terms had been an unwritten rule in the United States. George Washington didn’t intend to set precedent, but because he refused to run for a third term due to age, it became tradition.

To this day FDR is the only president to serve more than two terms and more than eight years. It must have scared America stupid because in just six short years after Roosevelt’s untimely death, the twenty-second amendment was ratified by congress and 36 of the then 48 states. Now, every president is limited to just two terms.

Speaking as someone who has witnessed three Canadian Prime Ministers serve more than two terms in my short lifetime alone, I find it rather mind-boggling. Being able to elect the leader of your choice is after all at the cornerstone of democracy.

FDR did some extraordinary things during his time in office, but imagine if he were limited to just two terms. World War II may have turned out quite differently for America and its allies. Who can say for sure, but I know this next example will send a shiver down your spine.

After a decade or so of conservative rule in the United States and Canada, 1993 saw Liberal Leader Jean Chrétien become Prime Minister of Canada and Democrat Bill Clinton become President of the United States.

Both of them got re-elected to second terms easily, but despite high polling numbers, Clinton was forced to step down in 2001, while Prime Minister Chrétien got elected to his third straight majority government a year earlier.

Fast forward a couple years to 2003 and the start of the Iraq War. Bill Clinton watched from the sidelines as his now infamous replacement lied to his wife and the rest of congress about the dangers of Saddam Hussein.

America was soon at war, but Canada was not. Prime Minister Chrétien had called President Bush out on his bullshit. The difference was Canada was allowed to elect the leader of their choice while the United States was not. You can argue the twenty-second amendment in this case cost thousands of American lives and trillions of tax payer dollars.

Back to the present, we stand on the precipice of an unprecedented election where the two candidates are the most hated in history. While there are obvious differences between Hillary and Trump, they can both come off as kind of hawkish.

Regardless of who is elected, if another senseless war is started, we’ll all once again have to wonder if it could have been avoided if only Obama was allowed to seek a third term.

There is nothing wrong with electing leaders for more than two terms, and there is certainly nothing to fear. There are many countries around the world without set term limits, and yet there is a curious amount that have decided to follow the American model, but why?

Democracy is meant to keep our leaders in check, and judging by the strength of our democracies around the world, we’re doing just that. We might not always have someone good to vote for, but it would be nice to keep the good ones around awhile longer.

16 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Mike,

    I think you’re wrong about Obama, but then i was also.

    I voted for him in 2008 hoping for an end to the wars, but in 2011 he let Hillary torch Libya. 30,000 dead, and the most prosperous country in Northern Africa was gutted.

    Anyhow Allan Finkelstein (above) has made many good points, so i’ll just leave it there about Obama.

    Now, as far as liberal Canucks go, i wish Canada could offer asylum to Assange or Snowden, or maybe even just not make war against Syria. You do know about the Alawites, and the possibility for genocide there if the West pushes forward its regime change plans against Assad. Just not participating in the wars against Arabs and Muslims is much more useful than offering refuge to those bombed out.

    However, that is for the Canadians to decide.

  2. “I may have my reservations about the man, but he is still the best president the United States has had since Carter, and arguably the most progressive. ”

    You are SO WRONG on So many Levels!!!

    Please identify ONE thing He was Progressive at… Certainly NOT Health Care… Even before he was elected he was against Universal care…. He won a Nobel Peace Prize for a Speech… How and where did he ever actually bring PEACE to the World??/

    He continued Clinton’s 3rd Way NeoLiberal centrist DINO programs and doubled down on supporting the Patriot Act to remove Freedoms and Rights for Americans… He Lied about a Transparent Government and created the MOST secretive Administration in History… He Supports the TPP and it’s anti-labor provisions, and is for Fracking… And He has tried at least twice to put Social Security on the table for Negotiations, knowing the Republicans would try and destroy it! Even his SCOTUS Nominee was a Conservative, and Not a Progressive… Not even a Liberal!!

    He has deported more people than any other president, broken up families and destroyed lives… He has attempted ZERO Prison reform, and has not even used his Presidential authority to remove Marijuana as a Schedule One drug…. something he could do by Executive Order! He has not even improved Civil Rights or race relations.. The Civil Rights and Voting Acts both being gutted by SCOTUS while under HIS watch!!! He has allowed Voter Fraud and Voter Suppression by the DNC, which HE is the Leader of, and done nothing… said Nothing!! He has allowed Democracy to be Corrupted, meaning HE is Corrupt!

    He IS a sell-out and a Con-man… and Clinton will follow his lead, just as she promised… He will be judged not as a Great President,… But as a tool of the establishment and Wall Street!

    Obama’s Legacy… Less Hope, and Even Less Change!!!

    • I said he was the most progressive since Carter. Was Clinton, Reagan or the Bushs more liberal? No. Would we be better off with Hillary or Donald? No. So how am I wrong?

      • You erred in attempting to inaccurately link Obama to the Adjective “Progressive” … something that most certainly is unearned by Him… or his Wannabe replacement Clinton. The word which would have been much more appropriate to apply as a Title is “Regressive”… It much more clearly reflects the effects of Most of his actions!!!

        IF Obama has been “progressive” in any way, it was how he hoodwinked the Electorate while he progressed in pushing and advancing the Agenda of the 3rd-Way NeoLiberal Establishment and their 1% Wall Street masters.

        • Suggesting he’s regressive implies that he made things worse than they were. If you truly feel that way you haven’t been paying attention the last thirty five years. You can argue he’s not progressive, but don’t label him as a republican.

          • What is a 3rd Way NeoLiberal DINO if Not a Republican??? Not a Ted Cruz Tea party Republican…. But a Trickle Down Clintonian Republican, Just Like Bill Clinton before him.

            Name one thing on my List of Non-Achievements above…. (I left off his Drone and Whistle Blower programs) that isn’t Republican… What has he Improved…. Only ONE thing that I can point to… That is the removal of “Pre-Existing Conditions” as an allowable reason to deny Health care,… the Rest of the ACA was a sell-out to Health Care For Profit (and as a Canadian Mike, You KNOW that!!) It was written by and FOR the Insurance Industry and Big Pharma, in secret… Just as the TPP is a secret agreement that we do not have the right to vette.. How is THAT not Republican??? Where is the Democracy??? How is it Democratic???

            What specifically has he “made better” and not in reality made worse??? … Just like Bill’s Welfare and Prison Reform, his Telecommunications Act, deregulation of the Banks and repeal of Glass-Steagal, NAFTA… All touted as for the betterment of the American Middle Class and Labor… ALL proven destructive and regressive!!!

            WHAT has Obama done that can stand in the Same class as the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and the New Deal??? Those are the yardsticks of Progressive legislation… Obama is NOT even in the same League!

            • Oh yah… and the Most Vile and Damning Republican things of all… His Support of the Patriot Act, and his war on Whistle Blowers!!!

              How can those Be called Progressive under ANY Dictionary Definition as all???

            • My argument was that Obama is more progressive than Bush 1 and 2, bill and Ronnie. On what planet is that wrong? I can’t understand why you’re even arguing with me. He’s progressive on the minimum wage, gun control, and gay rights just off the top of my head. How is he no better than the last few who came before him?

              • You Wrote “…and arguably the most progressive.” I am Arguing that your use of the Term “Progressive” in relation to Obama is a reach-too-far… Obama, in the 3 examples you referred to in your last comment, was mildly Liberal if That… BERNIE IS Progressive, Warrren WAS progressive (where she is Now remains to be seen, but she has certainly lost the Respect of Many Progressives I know)… Clinton is NOT Progressive except in her Dishonesty and Untrustworthiness, which is Progressively getting worse… (and now she has a “Get out of Jail Free” pass from the FBI to continue her EVIL Ways if she actually manages to steal this Election.)

                Obama, has NEVER Led on ANY of these Issues… Progressives are Ahead, they Lead…. Obama has Pandered and Followed, just as Bill Clinton did when he was pushed into it…. Obama Has NEVER Led… To even refer to him as a Liberal is a stretch… To say that he was More “Progressive” than Bill… that is a Leap…. Even on the 3 Issues you mentioned “minimum wage, gun control, and gay rights just off the top of my head”… Minimum Wage he made an Executive Order that impacts Federal Contractors only, and has had Minimal, if any, effect on the national Economy or standard of Living. McDonald’s workers fight for $15 has had More impact and success than Obama..

                “On February 12, 2014, President Obama signed Executive Order 13658, “Establishing a Minimum Wage for Contractors,” to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for all workers on Federal construction and service contracts.”
                … $10.10 is Hardly Progressive.. It is Not even a Living Wage!! Hillary has suggested more… $12… though I doubt she will follow through without some major loop-holes!!

                Gay Rights…. How did He lead??? How did he BUCK the Status-Quo and force a Change??? He had NO impact on Marriage Equality until the tide of States Legalizing Marriage made it inevitable… His Revelation was just as Pandering as was Clinton’s Come-to-Jesus Flip-Flop on the Issue!! PURE 100% Pandering to a Reality that occurred in spite of his Leadership, not Because of it !!!

                Gun Control??? Has he really accomplished ANYTHING other then some tears for Photo-ops??? I am not saying it isn’t a tough challenge… I understand that… But he has been in office for 8 years… and until the last few, maybe from Sandy Hook on, has he Really started to acknowledge the tragedy??? But He has NEVER Made Gun Control the kind of priority that he made his Semi-Worthless Sell out, the ACA… That is NOT Progressive… That is barely Liberal !!

                If you want to say that Obama was more Liberal than other Presidents, that is something I would let pass… Barely… and If I hold my Nose and Squint. (He is a DINO… just like the Clintons… More Republican than Liberal)… “Liberal” is already a label that has been tainted and weakened by the Right… and has no attachment any longer to the Progressive Left…. But to call him a “Progressive” is an Insult to Bernie Sanders, to Jill Stein, to Myself… and to the Millions of Other TRUE Progressives that are really Fighting this Revolution!!!

                #BernieorBUST #NEVERHillary

                • You do know what progressive means right? It’s not a class of human being, it’s an ideology that isn’t set in stone like liberals before it. You want to bash Obama, be my guest, but if you think he’s on a lower level than the three presidents that came before him, you’re out of your mind. Obama doesn’t have to be a “progressive” in order to be more progressive than others

                  • We finally Agree… “It’s not a class of human being, it’s an ideology”… Except Ideology’s ARE a set of Principles… and Liberalism Once was, synonymous with Progressive… sadly, No longer…. And whatever you chose to call it, or how you chose to describe it… Obama does NOT have “it”… and Never Did… His Whole Presidency has been based on Lies and UnTruths… From “Hope & Change” to the TPP and Obama is/was No more Progressive than ANY of his Predecessors, since Carter… Not Clinton Nor any of the Republicans… None of them were any Different, no matter their Party Name… (Except “Dubya”…. He was the Only Real FOOL in the Pack…) But all were Essentially Tools of the Establishment…. Owned and Operated!!

                    Even to use progressive as a Verb, rather than as an Ideology (Noun), is misapplied to Obama, and gives him more credit than his due!… YOU are being the Stubborn one Now! You have been unsuccessful demonstrating how He was more progressive (small “p”) … All Presidents you claim he topped had their small victories… and NONE of Obama’s has achieved any higher standard!!
                    Unless you consider YOUR Opinion to be more valid than Mine… Because you have not provided any single FACT to support your assertion, just your opinion… which I think I have factually countered, as you have not disputed my specific objections.

                    Despite his Cute Smile and attractive young family… (and his dark handsome looks) He is NOT JFK… and he did NOT recreate Camelot… He is Leaving the world a Darker and more Dangerous place… and the USA far more divided and closer to Real rebellion then when he took office… He will NOT be seen in History as a Great President, but a Failed one!!! An Opportunity LOST!!

  3. Incumbency is too much of an advantage in any election. In a perfect world, with only an intelligent, educated, enlightened, informed electorate, we could live without term limits. But in the real world, I strongly believe we need more, not fewer, term limits.

  4. Nothing to fear? Like the transformation of a popular elected president into El Presidente for life? Think it couldn’t happen here? Think again.

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