Victor Davis Hanson proposes a dubious solution to the “problem” of two-term presidencies:
One-term presidencies — or a constitutional change to a single six-year presidential term — make better sense. A single presidential tenure might curtail an incumbent’s customary exaggerations about supposed past achievements and the phony promises about great things to come that are apparently necessary for reelection. Much of wasteful federal spending and general bad policy derives from the reelection efforts of an incumbent desperate to appease or buy off the electorate.
It’s possible that a single, six-year term could remedy some of the flaws of the current system, but it is very easy to imagine how it would make much of what is wrong with the modern executive much worse. A president that never has the option of standing for re-election has less incentive to govern in ways that the public approves, and being limited to “only” six years will tend to make presidents more inclined to be as activist and ambitious as possible in the time they have in office. Two-term presidents already spend much of their second term preoccupied with securing some “legacy” accomplishment, and a president limited to a single term would be even more obsessed with leaving his mark with less time in which to do it. That seems like a recipe for more hubris and less competence. Electing presidents to one term would do nothing to curtail the ever-increasing powers of the executive, which is the real danger of the modern presidency, and it would probably allow failed presidents to get out of office with more of their reputation intact than if they had to face the full consequences of their earlier poor decisions.
Instead of having to put up with incompetent leadership for just four years, a single, six-year term virtually guarantees that the country would be stuck with a bad president for what would seem like an eternity, and it would force a reasonably competent one to leave office sooner than the current system allows. Presidents would still have all the same incentives to “buy off” supporters in order to maintain support for their party in Congress, and because they would not be up for re-election the electorate would never have the chance to repudiate them at the polls. Switching to a single, six-year presidential term is a superficial solution to deeper political problems, but it is also an ill-considered and unnecessary constitutional change that would likely do much more harm than good.