For awhile now, I've had some qualms about political incumbents, re-elections, and multiple terms. The whole concept just doesn't sit well with me.
For all intents and purposes, I'm going to focus on the problems concerning presidents who are embarking on their second term in office, as that's where the problems are most evident.
Unlike other political offices, a president's second term (with the exclusion of the one and only Franklin Delano Roosevelt) will always be their last.
With that in mind, here are some interesting facts on our past executives. A total of 22 presidents have only served one term.
Five presidents died during their first terms, and therefore didn't have the opportunity to run for re-election (Harrison, Taylor, Garfield, Harding, and Kennedy). Five succeeded from the vice-presidency, but did not get re-elected following their own campaign for office (Tyler, Fillmore, Johnson, Arthur, and Ford). Last, but not least, 12 presidents have served just a single elected term, no ifs, ands, or buts (Adams, Van Buren, Polk, Pierce, Buchanan, Hayes, Harrison, Taft, Hoover, Carter, and Bush Sr).
Now, assassinations and resignations aside, the following are reasons as to why second term presidencies make me uneasy.
When candidates begin their initial campaigns for the presidency, they are full of idealistic platforms and spirited ammunition for change. Although these individuals may be making statements and portraying certain standards with the intention of pleasing voters across the country, the public/individuals ultimately voice their own opinion when entering the voting booth on election day.
Then, throughout the elected candidate's first term, his/her efforts are a culmination of their attempts at "making good" on their ambitious campaign promises while further attempting to keep things steady so as to secure their chances of re-election.
In other words, a lot of candidates seem to be on their "best behavior" from the day they announce their plans to run to the day their fate is decided for a second time by the population of the United States.
After they've finished celebrating their re-election to another term in office, the veil disappears and the true motives are displayed. They no longer have anything to lose. There will not be a next term or new national campaign -- they've peaked, in a sense.
Herein lies my question -- upon being re-elected, who is left for the president to impress? Sure, there's the threat of low approval ratings and impeachment (which realistically isn't a threat at all since only three presidents have faced impeachment -- one resigning and the other two having the impeachment overturned by the Senate), but does the country's dissatisfaction really even matter?
There is a concise divide between a president's first term and their last term. As I've previously stated, initially the elected president is busy trying to "please" everyone and not making enemies who will ruin their future. Towards the end, they set out to accomplish all of the slightly less-reasonable goals that they mentioned in that one debate in a small-town six years ago that everyone in attendance gaffed at. I mean, why not? Again, the worst that can happen is impeachment, but that has only happened during the terms of Johnson, Nixon, and Clinton.
Next to that, what role does a low approval rating even play? So what, a few people are unhappy... but that has little impact when viewing the greater picture.
I doubt I'm the only person in America who has had these thoughts. Seriously, a president's second elected term in office is just asking for radicalism or inaction.
Alright, I've finished my rant -- I swear.