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Trump supporters now floating presidency for life proposals

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“Technically,” if Trump were to be re-elected, or “re-elected,” in November, he wouldn’t eligible to serve a third term, because of a wooden and literalist interpretation of the 22nd amendment to the US Constitution.

I think we can all agree there’s one word to describe that situation: #Unfair!

The good folks at Project 2025 couldn’t agree more:

The American Conservative, a right-wing blog and Project 2025 partner, published an article advocating to repeal the 22nd Amendment so that Donald Trump would be able to serve a third term.

The 22nd Amendment, ratified in 1951, limits a president to serving two terms. It was adopted after former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to a third and fourth term amid public concerns about a “long-term president.”

An article headlined “Trump 2028” published in The American Conservative advocates for the amendment’s repeal so that Trump could be eligible to serve a third term should he win the 2024 election. The American Conservative is a partner of Project 2025, the conservative movement’s comprehensive transition plan for the next Republican presidency. Project 2025 — organized and led by The Heritage Foundation, a leading right-wing think tank — is a policy and staffing initiative that threatens to weaken democracy, significantly roll back civil rights, and exacerbate climate change, among other issues.

Peter Tonguette, a contributing writer to the Washington Examiner who also regularly writes for The American Conservative, dubiously argues in his piece that the drafters of the 22nd Amendment could not have anticipated a president who would serve nonconsecutive terms, a possibility that he argues is a reflection of Trump’s supposedly unique popularity. (Polls show that the majority of Americans have an unfavorable view of the former president.) He says voters should not be “denied the freedom” to elect him to a third term.

He describes the 22nd Amendment as “plainly unfair” and places “artificial limits” on “voter choice.”

Repealing the amendment would “technically” require a vote of two-thirds of each house of Congress, followed by ratification by at least 38 states. That’s obviously impossible via law, but with Trump all things are possible, as I believe it says in the Bible, somewhere towards the back.

I don’t think it’s by any means out of the realm of possibility that Trump would simply refuse to leave office in January of 2029, and would try to engineer some sort of pseudo-legal reason for allowing or requiring this outcome. Yes I know: Guardrails. I’m probably just being hysterical, like Connie in the last scene of The Godfather.

Less mordantly, apart from the whole Fascist President for Life thing, was and/or is the 22nd amendment a good idea? I actually don’t know anything about the precise political conditions that allowed it to be enacted over the enormous inertial barriers in the way of making such a fundamental change, although of course I realize a lot of Republicans were outraged at the whole FDR thing. But Republicans were very much the minority party at both the federal and state level for almost all the 1933-1981 period, given that the Dixiecrats controlled the South, so it’s curious that the amendment got through. Were people that concerned that the FDR precedent was a bad one, given that he was a wildly successful president if you weren’t a plutocrat?

At the moment of course the 22nd amendment seems like a good thing, but who are the presidents who it likely kept from being re-elected?

Eisenhower: Probably

Nixon: No, obviously.

Reagan: Hmmm. I’d say “no.” 77 was a lot older back then, plus it was getting really obvious that he had dementia.

Clinton: Yes

Bush II: Obviously not

Obama: Probably, maybe??

So I’d say it’s been a net negative up to this point. Given current levels of polarization it’s impossible to get rid of for the foreseeable future, although God only knows if that will mean anything four and three-quarters years from now.

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