Former President Donald Trump has hinted at the possibility of running for president again in 2024 and even potentially 2028, which raises questions about whether he could legally campaign for 4 more years or up to 8 more years in office.
While nothing in the Constitution explicitly prohibits running for two more terms totaling 8 more years, historical precedent and expectations around limiting presidents to two terms could generate opposition should Trump attempt to return for a third term after a hypothetical second term.
The 22nd Amendment’s Term Limit Rules
The relevant term limit rules originate from the 22nd Amendment enacted in 1947 :
- It restricts presidents to two elected four-year terms or a maximum of 10 years if succeeding unelected.
- It does not expressly prohibit running for two more non-consecutive terms totaling 8 more years.
So technically, Trump running in 2024 and 2028 for two additional terms is not prohibited.
History of Presidents Serving Non-Consecutive Terms
There is limited historical precedent for presidents serving two non-consecutive terms :
- Grover Cleveland won two non-consecutive terms in 1884 and 1892, serving 8 years in total separated by a defeat in 1888.
- He remains the only president to hold two separate administrations.
However, this occurred prior to the 22nd Amendment formally imposing term limits in 1947.
Washington’s Precedent of Stepping Down
Scholars argue George Washington’s decision to step down after two terms established an enduring expectation :
- Washington declined a third term in 1796 to avoid any appearance of monarchy or lifelong rule.
- His departure marked a pivotal peaceful transition of power that became a revered model for successors until FDR.
- This norm persists in the two-term principled restraint Washington demonstrated.
Attempting to return for a third term after 8 years defies this prototype of restraint underlying term limit custom.
Past Efforts for Third Terms Faced Resistance
While legal, past efforts at third non-consecutive terms by ex-presidents generated pushback :
- Theodore Roosevelt attempted getting reelected in 1912 after leaving office in 1909 but lost and died shortly after.
- Grover Cleveland met party resistance when he considered running again in 1896 after losing reelection in 1888.
These failed bids signaled serving more than 8 years had fallen out of favor before term limits were codified.
Arguments Against Serving Longer Than 8 Years
Conventions arose around presidents serving no more than 8 years to sustain democracy :
- Prevents cults of personality and popular passions overriding reason.
- Regular turnover circulates new ideas and talent.
- Voluntarily leaving reaffirms office is about civic duty, not personal ambition.
- Violating expectations risks dangerous precedents for future opportunistic presidents.
These principled stances generate reluctance to support presidents serving excessively extended tenures.
Scenarios Where Trump Would Face Greater Resistance
Trump provokes criticism simply by pondering returning to office. But several scenarios would escalate resistance:
- Openly declaring he plans to serve 3 or 4 terms instead of just running once more.
- Refusing to commit to accepting election results or stepping down after a potential second term.
- Indicating he aims to challenge or undermine 22nd Amendment term limits.
- Taking authoritarian actions showing disdain for checks on presidential power.
Any of these would substantiate concerns about Trump abusing power, making efforts to constrain his ambitions more forceful.
Can He Legally Run and Serve 4 or 8 More Years?
The 22nd Amendment does not prohibit running in 2024 and 2028 for two more terms totaling 8 more years. But key contextual factors include:
- The political difficulty likely grows after a long absence from leading the government.
- Incumbency provides advantages while campaigning that Trump would lack out of office.
- Defiance of unwritten norms around term limits risks provoking institutional resistance.
The presidency confers broad authority, but Trump’s desires test the boundaries of voluntary guardrails on prolonged rule.
Legally, Donald Trump faces no obstacle to running in 2024 and 2028 for two additional 4-year presidential terms totaling 8 more years in office. However, customs developed to enable smooth transitions of power mean defying conventions around limiting tenure would likely generate backlash. While the 22nd Amendment sought to codify Washington’s example, enduring reverence for his restraint remains culturally ingrained.
Trump forcing the issue risks awakening latent bipartisan concerns about creeping authoritarianism and egocentrism superseding civic virtue. As with all established norms, no enforcement mechanisms can compel adherence beyond principled action.
But the founding generation designed institutions and values meant to restrain wayward impulses contrary to collective self-rule. Should Trump pursue ambitions of seemingly endless power, the wisdom of custom remains America’s strongest safeguard.
Hi y’all, I’m Caroline Webster, your proud Texan source for everything related to our 45th president, Donald Trump, and the GOP.
Along with my husband, Bill, I run Trump Scoop, born out of our ranch in the Lone Star State, offering insightful and unbiased commentary on conservative politics.
With a degree in Political Science and years immersed in local politics, my aim is to keep our readers informed and connected.
For me, it’s not just about delivering news—it’s about standing up for our values and the spirit of American patriotism.