TTP: An Odd Fact Of Three By 2 And Twice

We’re neck-deep and head-high in the 2020 presidential campaign. I’ve got an odd fact from our 45 Presidents Of The United States (POTUS) that might help you navigate the wild waters around us. I’ll leave it to you to determine what it means for our current situation.

In all of our history of presidential elections, from 1789 down to today, only twice—TWICE—have we had a consecutive string of three, 2-term presidential administrations. Read this carefully: an elected president who wins and completes a first term and then wins and completes a second term— put it this way: one president does it, then the next president does it, and then a third consecutive president does it. Three in a row, or a trio.

It’s only happened twice since 1789.

The first time was Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, spanning 1801 to 1825. Three Presidents in a row who had two terms.

But here’s the thing. It stopped with the election of John Quincy Adams in 1824. Adams is able to only win one term; he fails to be re-elected and thus becomes one of nine POTUSes who wins a first term, is renominated, but fails at re-election. Adams loses in 1828 to Andrew Jackson.

So, to repeat: it’s Jefferson (2 terms) – Madison (2 terms) – Monroe (2 terms – and then the next POTUS is a one-termer who loses re-election.

That was the first time we had a string of three 2-term POTUSes.

When’s the only other time, the second, you ask?

Now. Weird.

Think about it.

Bill Clinton (1993-2001) – George W. Bush (2001-2009) – Barack Obama (2009-2017).

So, for only the second time in American presidential election history, we’re faced with the question of whether to re-elect the POTUS who follows a consecutive string of three 2-term presidents.

Let’s glance back again at our first time—Jefferson/Madison/Monroe and then zilch with JQ Adams as a one-termer. What characterized that era and that moment?

The Trio were essentially of the same political affiliation, club, and tribe. They were called Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans, in fact. They all lived in Virginia and owned enslaved Black Americans on plantations. The group dominated national political life, so much so that the lack of organized and effective opposition has resulted in some labeling it as the “era of good feelings.”

JQ Adams’s one-term presidency was a pivot point in the ending of the era. His chief rival, and the source of his defeat in 1828, was Andrew Jackson. Jackson emerged as a new sort of anti-politician or anti-Virginian, a jolt in culture and style especially. He embodied a bold, brash, and rather raucous set of Americans who were newly active, newly organized, and newly energized in the political world. The established order in politics, government, economics (to some degree), and more was rattled by Jackson, the group who came to be called Jacksonians, and a loose set of attitudes and outlooks tagged as Jacksonianism.

You know you’ve made a mark when you get your own “-ism.”

Back to the future, to 2020.

Are we in a general sort of repetition of that moment and era again? What does that trio of Clinton-Bush-Obama suggest to you as it relates to the outcome of the 2020 election? Will POTUS 45 repeat POTUS 6? Or will POTUS 45 establish a first in American history and become the first FOURTH of a QUARTET of two-termers? Either way, I’d encourage you to think through this final question—what has to be true for your answer to be accurate as an outcome? (This last question, by the way, in an excellent historical tool to use in deepening your leadership and your analytical ability as a leader.)

I’ll leave it to you. Your call.

Thanks for reading. All the best, Dan