Thursday, February 19, 2015

Even Better Than a Balanced Budget Amendment Would Be a No More Presidential Family Dynasties Amendment

As noted in an earlier post, I'm skeptical of a federal balanced budget amendment. I'd rather see a return to the Fiscal Constitution described by Bill White. The matter is much more complex than the 22nd amendment, which established a two-term limit for U.S. presidents.

What I would like to see, though, is an end to presidential family dynasties. I think an amendment that would give real meaning to the 22nd amendment by banning the children, parents, siblings, and spouses of presidents from serving as president (or vice president) would be very helpful in the long run and in the short run would prevent the horror of another Bush, Clinton, or Obama (don't think they haven't thought about it) in the White House. The simple fact is that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people could serve as president with distinction. (And untold others could muddle through like the last two did.) So why risk de facto breaking the 22nd Amendment (by electing a person effectively controlled by a former 2-term president), looking bad to foreigners (or more importantly to future Americans!), and perpetuating presidential family dynasties? Costs > benefits.

Would such an amendment be unfair to the children, parents, siblings, and spouses of presidents? Yes, but it would be less unfair than the name recognition, patronage, and other boosts that those close to presidents receive. Would Hillary have been Secretary of State without Bill's presidency? Nope. Would George W. have won if daddy didn't? Nope. (In fact, he didn't really win the first time!) John Quincy rode on his old man's coattails too, and didn't really win his election either.

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