- Donald Trump tweeted a video hinting that his presidency could go on until 2048 and beyond.
- The president has joked about extending the two-term limit repeatedly since taking office.
- Could it happen? Yes, if the president successfully repealed the 22nd Constitutional Amendment.
Fresh from being acquitted of all impeachment charges in the Senate yesterday, Trump tweeted a victory video. The video hints at his presidency running to 2048 and ‘4EVA’.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2020
It’s not the first time he’s joked or hinted about extending his presidency beyond the two-term limit. And he’s not the first president to suggest it, either. Back in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan began a movement to remove the two-term limits.
So, is it possible? Aside from the fact that Trump would be 101 years old contesting the 2048 election, what would it take to serve a longer term?
Trump repeatedly jokes about extending his presidency
Trump’s most obvious comment came at a private gala at Mar-a-lago. Speaking of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s limitless terms, he said:
He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.
At a Republican rally, he asked the crowd if America should extend the two-term limit.
Should we go back to 16 years? Should we do that? Congressman, can we do that?
In other statements, he’s hinted at serving “maybe 10 or maybe 14 years.” In a more serious tone, he said he should “be given his stolen time back” for the distracting Comey investigation, retweeting a demand for a two-year extension.
Moving the Overton window for presidential terms
As with many things, Trump jokes about these radical policy ideas. But there’s a serious undertone. He plants the seed of possibility and puts it on the agenda. It widens the ‘Overton window,’ making extreme policies like this a reality.
Look at how he responded to news reports about extending his term.
No, I’m not looking to do it. Unless you want to do it, that’s OK.
He plants the seed that it could happen if there was public support. He did the same thing in a tweet last year.
Do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT.
He’s quietly encouraging his base to support longer terms.
Could Trump serve more than two-terms?
It’s certainly possible. The two-term limit was only added to the Constitution in 1951 under the 22nd Amendment. Before that, there was no limit and there are countless examples of presidents pushing for extensions.
Franklyn D. Roosevelt served four terms and only left office because he died. Two of the founding fathers (Hamilton and Madison) voted in favor of limitless presidencies.
In recent years, Ronald Reagan tried to start a movement to repeal the 22nd Amendment, though it didn’t get far. The two-term period was originally just a precedent set by Washington and Jefferson who bowed out after two terms.
What would it take to repeal the 22nd Amendment?
So, yes, Trump could absolutely push for a repeal of the current limit. Off the back of a strong State of the Union and personal best approval rating, he might even garner enough support. It would require a two-thirds majority proposal in the Senate or the House. States would then have to ratify the amendment with a three-quarters majority.
The odds are against him, though. A Constitutional repeal has only happened once, to repeal the 18th Amendment which established Prohibition.
It’s difficult and unlikely, but not impossible.