On this day in 1944, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to an unprecedented fourth term in office. Try answering these trivia questions about the only president to have served more than two terms...
Why Did FDR Keep Winning? Voters did not really want to deal with major political changes during the Great Depression and World War II, and FDR was doing a good enough job of leading the country to recovery and victory that most saw no reason to not re-elect him. FDR was originally not going to run after his second term; at that point in time, there was no official term limit for presidents, but there was an unspoken one set by George Washington, who claimed that longer presidencies ran the risk of becoming tyrannical. On occasion, someone would try to run for a third term but be defeated instead, such as Teddy Roosevelt. However, the growing problems in Europe (remember, the U.S. was not involved in the war yet) convinced FDR that he had to run again to try to provide consistent leadership. He ran for a fourth term for the same reason.
Why Were Some of His Supporters Alarmed by His Re-election? As much as FDR's supporters like his policies, some of them were opposed to his running for more than two terms because they subscribed to Washington's interpretation, about longer service risking tyranny. They understood that the country was facing tough situations but still felt that the president should not stick around for too long, to prevent him from wielding too much influence over the country. Obviously, voters did not agree.
Why Were Presidents Limited to Only Two Terms After FDR's Death? The 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was proposed in 1947 and ratified in 1951. The amendment stated that no president should serve more than two terms (more on this in a bit, but that's the gist of the law). The amendment was created for two reasons: one, to reduce the chances of presidential deaths in office (if they're prevented from running and serving repeatedly, there's a smaller chance they'll be in office when they die), and two, to prevent -- wait for it -- the risk of tyranny, or at the very least, having way too much influence over government policy.
What Legal Loophole Allows a President to Still Serve More Than Two Terms?
There is one situation in which a president may serve more than two four-year terms. The 22nd Amendment states that presidents will not be elected more than twice, and if a vice president becomes president and then serves more than two years of that term, that person may not be elected as president more than once. For example, VP Doe becomes president due to a resignation and serves three years of that presidential term. Doe can run for and be elected to the presidency one more time.
However, there's a loophole. If the vice president serves less than two years of another person's presidential term, then that VP can run for two more terms as president. So let's say VP Doe becomes president due to a resignation when there is only one year to go before the next election. President Doe can then run for and be elected for two more four-year terms.