Whenever a new president takes the oath of office, we pay homage to the transition of power itself.
In his inaugural address, President Bush noted that “the peaceful transfer of power is rare in history, but common in our country.” He is right. While democratic forms have penetrated to every corner of the globe, sometimes the substance is a little lacking. But even our own democratic legacy can benefit from an occasional repair job.
For our own sake and for that of citizens around the world, we must keep our democracy strong. To do this, we rely on the good will of the people who lead us. We also rely on the checks and balances of our political institutions, which help ensure that no one branch of government and no single person can ever hold a monopoly on power.
We fought a revolution to get rid of a king. We don’t need another king. The Founders did not formally provide for term limits, instead placing their trust in the honor of those who would serve. For many years, their trust seemed justified: until Franklin Roosevelt, no president stood for office more than twice. But even many who had supported a wartime president for a fourth term saw the wisdom of making presidential term limits formal and official. And so, on February 27, 1951, the country ratified a constitutional amendment term limiting the presidency.
This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of that amendment the 50th anniversary of a renewed and strengthened commitment to democracy.
This is Common Sense.Â I’m Paul Jacob.