We all seem to have that one family member or friend who does one thing a lot of, and we refer to them by that action. What’s her name gets married a lot. Old so and so gets arrested all the time. Who’s her face is pregnant all the time. Well, Jose’ Serrano, New York’s House Representative from the tiny 15th District of Northern Manhattan, is that guy that tries to repeal the 22nd Amendment. Before you gun owners start sending hate mail, it’s the TWENTY- SECOND Amendment not SECOND. Although the Democratic Representative is one of the most left-wing members of Congress - he hangs out with Hugo Chavez and was one of three legislators to vote to remove all troops from Iraq in 2006 - Puerto Rican-born, Bronx-raised Jose’ Serrano has his eyes on one prize, and that’s making sure the President of the United States can serve more than two terms.
Today is the sixty-second anniversary of the part of the Constitution that created and enforced term limits for the Presidency. The 22nd Amendment has a storied and complicated history that has some thinking she’s ready to be retired. Six years after the death of four-term elect Franklin Roosevelt, federal lawmakers, bouyed by polls that supported the notion, decided that two-terms or no more than ten years was enough for one person to hold the highest office in the land.
There are some, including the aforementioned Jose’ from the block, who think that term limits for the Commander in Chief is a bad idea. Since 1997 Serrano has introduced a bill, every two years, proposing to end the Amendment. As Serrano has turned into “the guy who hates the 22nd”, he’s stayed consistent. Despite being so liberal he makes me look like Dick Cheney, he pushed for unlimited Presidential terms for Clinton, Bush, and Obama. One of those guys has an “R” next to his name.
George Washington, that’s the dude on the quarter and dollar bill ya’ll, unofficially set a precedent by not running for a third term after 1796. He cited his advanced age and guilt over the cherry tree thing as reasons. Thomas Jefferson also rejected a third term possibility telling anyone who’d listen that two terms was enough for any man to serve anything, plus he had baby mama stuff. Most Presidents have followed this unwritten rule. Theodore Roosevelt didn’t seek a third term, then came back to split the Republican vote in 1912 because he really hated William Howard Taft’s workout regimen, or something. Woodrow Wilson stalled the 1920 Democratic convention when he got all pissy and wanted a third term. He was so unpopular, his party blocked him, nominated an unknown James Cox, and lost the election. It wasn’t until FDR, in 1940, did the issue come up again. Citing the impending World War, Roosevelt ran for a third and later fourth term in 1944, then died in 1945 after serving just over 12 years.
Now that you’re asleep, I can get you back to 22nd No Way Jose’ from Southside Bronx. On January 4, 2013, Serrano sent another bill to committee to repeal term limits for the President. All of his other bills have died slow, painful deaths in someone’s office shredder but historians, journalists, and some politicians believe this time will be different. Recent polls have shown that 76 percent of Americans support term limits for Congress, while only 46 percent support term limits for the President. Many Washington insiders think that Serrano’s bill could turn into target practice for limiting office terms for congressional members, including Jose’ Serrano. Whether or not the 22nd Amendment could ever be repealed is uncertain, but if it were, the President can be in a better position to go for term limits for all government employees, including Senators and House Representatives. Serrano’s bill, as is, would need 38 states to ratify. According to polls, 34 states support ending the 22nd Amendment.
Giving the President more power, at least in serving more years, makes for a heck of a debate. But if the President was given more ammunition to fight Congressional member who weren’t comfortable in their decades long positions, it would change the face of American government. Despite the power that he’s got, Serrano’s still Jose’ from the block. But if this bill has the teeth that many believe it does, the way we’re governed the United States could become very interesting. Maybe Jose’ Serrano should get help from one of his other residents of the Bronx, Jenny From The Block?