Can I Write In Barack Obama For President? The 22nd Amendment Puts Limits On How Long A President Can Serve
As excited as I am to (probably) welcome the first woman president of the United States, it's sad to know Barack Obama won't be in the White House for much longer. If you're bummed out like I am, you may be wondering if it's possible to write in Barack Obama for president. Alas, my friends, thanks to a little something called the 22nd Amendment, it's not that simple.
You probably learned about it in your 10th grade history class, but in case you don't remember it (I didn't — I got to flex my research muscles for this post), the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was passed in 1947 and ratified in 1951. What does it do? Something very, very important: It puts limits on how long a person can serve as president of the United States. I know you probably don't want me to just recite the two articles of the 22nd Amendment to you, though, so I'll break down the most important parts as they relate to Obama's presidency:
Basically, this amendment says that a president of the United States can't be elected to office more than twice. According to the National Constitution Center, the specific number here is a nod to President George Washington's refusal to run for a third term way back in 1796. Even though this means that beloved presidents like Obama aren't allowed to serve for more than two terms, it also makes clear that eight years is a long enough time for anyone to be president.
Funnily enough, all U.S. presidents stuck with this unofficial two-term rule, even though it wasn't even part of the Constitution yet, up until President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who succeeded in winning a third and fourth term, serving more than a decade and a half total. After Roosevelt died in 1945 during his fourth term, Congress decided that there should be a cap on how long a single president can run the country. Thus, the 22nd Amendment was born.
The current 22nd Amendment also states that if a vice president takes over and serves fewer than two years of the former president's term, then he or she can serve an additional two four-year terms. Theoretically, that means a vice president who becomes president could serve for as long as a decade. At the same time, if there are more than two years left of the former president's term, the new commander in chief can only serve one extra year. Make sense?
What all of this boils down to is that it doesn't mean you can't write in Obama for president. Technically, you can write in anybody you want. But if you do write Barack Obama onto your ballot, your vote for him won't count this election season or in the future. Similarly, the 22nd Amendment also doesn't mean someone can't run for office. It just means that it's unconstitutional to actually elect that person into office. So, it's virtually impossible for an eight-year president to serve another term.
Then again, it's been a busy four years for Obama. He's ended the War in Iraq, expanded children's health care coverage, and so much more. Being a president doesn't come without challenges, and First Lady Michelle Obama has even talked about the difficulties and constraints that living in the White House has put on their family. It's certainly been a wild ride, so perhaps it will finally be time to send off Obama after the election in November.
Take a nap, Obama. You deserve it.
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