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Imagining a term-limited executive President

All this focus on the American presidential elections got me thinking – since 1956 the US has had Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II. And they’re about to have an 11th president in the time that Trinidad and Tobago had Williams (who covered the Eisenhower to Reagan period), Chambers, Robinson, Manning and Panday.  And we’re stuck with Manning for several years to come.

Sticking to our 5-year terms (for President and Parliament), what would things have been like if we had a term-limited executive President?  Williams would have retired in 1966.  I don’t know who would have followed him, assuming that the PNM held power.  The 70s would probably have brought Robinson and Hudson-Phillips.  Manning and Panday would be behind us.  And now, we would have someone else, someone new.  Maybe Dookeran, maybe someone else.

There’s plenty to criticise about Eric Williams.  But perhaps most profoundly, twenty-six years of him in power taught us to look at politics as a lifetime occupation.  It isn’t, and it shouldn’t be.  We’d be far better off if we were rid of a politician after a couple terms.  The world holds its breath for the end of Bush’s term.  Manning?  Who knows when we will be rid of him.


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