Franklin Roosevelt was not wrong to violate the no third term tradition. The “no third term” tradition was set as a standard when Washington was in office. After Washington refused to run a third time, there were many other presidents who followed his lead. There should be no other president to lead the country at a time of strife, than the president that was in the office at that time. There was no written law that stated that a president could not run for a third term.The “no third term” policy was just a precedent waiting to be broken. Informal amendments aren’t written in stone, therefore, people have the right to ignore them.
The decision of President Washington to refuse a third term as President of the United States started a precedent that persisted stubbornly until 1940 (Permet 1). Washington felt that even one term was a lot, however, he was pressured by everyone to finish his second term. He could have run again, but he was getting old, and his health and spirit were diminished. Washington was no longer able to tolerate the quarrelsomeness of the factions within the government (Tugwell 45).
Jefferson thought the third term was evil. He and many other men during his era had seen too much of the absolute monarchy in Europe, and they feared that under the US Constitution, a Chief Executive could be elected from four years to four years until it became a life term (Permet 4). Jefferson was asked, and many of his closest advisers nominated him for a third term. He declined the offer. Most people believed that he declined because he was losing support in the government and public due to failure in foreign policy. Now that a second president turned down the third term nomination, it was an unwritten law, and no one would even think of breaking the tradition.
The next president who turned down the third term nomination was Jackson. Grant and Teddy Roosevelt followed him. They all had the same things in common. They were either burnt out, their policies didn’t fly with the opposition, or they just couldn’t cut it anymore as a president. Calvin Coolidge was nominated for a third term, but Herbert Hoover got the overall nomination. Coolidge didn’t receive the final nomination due to fatigue.
FDR made a gutsy move to run in the 1940 elections, moreover, it was a key move to get the US back on track. In 1940, Franklin Roosevelt was re-elected for a third term over Wendel Willkie. With much past opposition to the third term policy, FDR was a sure shoe in for the third term.Other than Wendel Willkie, it was very hard to imagine anyone else taking over the responsibilities at the time (Parmet 287).There was still much opposition to the third term policy, but at that time Roosevelt was the right person to lead the country. The war time emergency helped FDR win the election. Rexford G. Tugwell, FDRs good friend and advisor, said, There is never a convenient time to change horses in the middle of the stream (Tugwell 178). Willkie wasn’t the right one to carry out the New Deal. Republicans loathed the New Deal, and Willkie would have destroyed the rebuilding of the countrys economy. Also Willkie surely wasnt going to get the U.S. out of WWII.FDR and Churchill provided the leadership that led to a great victory. The war in Europe was over, and the end of the pacific conflict was less than six months-away (Parmet 289). Also, Roosevelt basically saved the world from Hitler (Parmet 290).Mr. Willkie didnt have the experience compared to FDRs previous two other terms.Alexander Hamilton said in the Federalist Papers, in Paper number 72:
It was essential for the Chief executive to have the feeling that he would be able to finish what he had begun lest to hesitate to undertake a project for the public benefit because, together with his own reputation, it might possible be committed to hands which might be unequal or unfriendly to the task. (Parmet 2)
I believe that it was morally right for FDR to sever the age old no third term tradition. There wasnt any law that barred him from running for his third term. Roosevelt was even backed by some of his old opponents. The big money men hated him when he came into office in the early 30s, but in 1940 the big corporations loved him, and backed him for all he was worth (Parmet 5). Also, democracy is based on the people and for the people. The people of the 1940s wanted FDR back in office. The only thing that might have kept him back were the supporters of the old no third term policy. Somebody was bound to break the verbal law. It was not written in stone, and the country needed someone to take them out from rock bottom. FDR felt that he needed to go back into office. He knew he could win.
Other informal amendments are also not written in stone, and they too could be broken tastefully. The no third term policy was broken in taste. The country needed a president who could lead them in a time of need. The U.S. needed a man who could finish what he started and more. I believe that if the country would succeed without the informal amendments, and they should be abolished. However, if a single person or groups of people are going to deliberately break the verbal amendment for a negative reason, then the government should enforce it. It is all a judgement call when it comes to the demolition of informal precedents.