Comparing Political Inherency in America and the Middle East

When running for a political office in the United States or in any other government holding elections, political candidates are evaluated a variety of ways. In order to be successful as a political leader, one must demonstrate effective public and foreign policy leadership, crisis management, public persuasion, vision for the future and most importantly, character and integrity. If proven to be successful in the first term in office, a politician may serve for an extended period of time while contributing a great deal to the current political system.
The United States
A U.S. president can serve a maximum of two 4-year terms in office due to the 22nd Amendment stating that, “no person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice”. Many presidential leaders, served as United States President for the duration of two terms, such as: George Washington (1889-1897), Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), James Madison (1809-1817), James Monroe (1817-1825), Andrew Jackson (1829-1837), Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877), Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909), Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921), Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945), Harry S. Truman (1945-1953), Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961), Ronald Reagan (1981-89), Bill Clinton 1993-2001, George W. Bush (2001-). The only President to serve two non-consecutive terms is Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th President of the United States. After presidential service some remain important political figures. For example, former president John Quincy Adams served the House of Representative for 17 years after his presidency.
Many others are considered to have been successful despite the fact that only a single term was served, such as President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated half way through his first term in office. In order to be reelected a President or as any other political figure, one must immediately enforce a plan to stimulate the economy. For example, two recent Presidents, Jimmy Carter and George H. Bush, both lost their bids for reelection due to the economic decline during their first term. In comparison, President Bill Clinton was reelected in 1996 due to a booming economy, despite his involvement in a scandal.
The manor with which a president handles a foreign or domestic crisis will also greatly affect how long his position is held. Both Abraham Lincoln, who preserved the Union and led the country through the Civil War, and Franklin Roosevelt, who carefully guided America through WWII, ranked highly in the polls due to their effective crisis management skills. Another more recent example of this, is how current President George W. Bush, was reelected in 2004. In August 2001, he was ranking incredibly low in the polls but was seen as a great crisis manager after the way he handled the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and therefore reelected.
President Bush began his second term in office facing many challenges in domestic and foreign policy. He promised to address and improve various domestic issues including social security, immigration regulations. Also, his foreign policy was to focus on improving the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the war on terror, but little was accomplished in either area. President Bush had lower approval ratings than most two-term presidents, most recently, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.
Some speculate that the president won the 2004 election against Sen. John Kerry due to his appeal to the “average American” and the nations’ conservative majority. Now, as a result of the unpopular war in Iraq, unsuccessful foreign policy and the lack of progress made on the nations most pressing issues, the President’s approval ratings are as low as ever: 36% approve, 62% disapprove, and 2% no opinion.
United States Congress is made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate, chosen through direct election. Every two years a new House and 1/3 Senate are sworn in. Many Senators and State Representatives have mastered the game of politics. They are aware of the tactical measures that are necessary to win the majority vote in a state and have proven to be successful, long lasting political figures.
The longest serving senator in the history of the United States, Robert Byrd, is still working after 48 years in the Senate. West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd, has run 14 times and never lost. Others among the top 20 longest serving U.S. senators are: Strom Thrumond (48 years), Edward Kennedy (44 years), Daniel Inouye (44 years), Carl T. Hayden (41years), John C. Stennis (41 years), Ernest F. Hollings (38 years), Richard B. Russell (38 years), Richard B. Long (38 years), Theodore Stevens, (38 years), Francis E. Warren (37 years), James O. Eastland (36 years), Warren Maqnuson (36 years), Claiborne Pell (36 years), Kenneth McKellar (35 years), Milton Young (35 years), Ellison D. Smith (35 years), Allen J. Ellender (35 years), William B. Allison (35 years), John McClellan (34 years).
The Middle East
In the Middle East political inherency is quite prevalent among all forms of Government. Syria is a parliamentary republic and at the national level the Syrian political body is represented by the executive, legislative and judicial branches. . From 1963 on Syria has been ruled by the Ba’ath Party and by former President Hafez al-Assad, who was the longest serving president in Syrian History. He ruled from 1970 until his death in 2000, and was succeeded by his son Bashar al-Assad. During his reign, Hafez al-Assad created an organizational infrastructure for his new government. A 173-member legislature, the Peoples council was nominated by the Arab Ba’ath Socialist Party. Seats were divided among various organizations, the Ba’ath Party and other minor parties. Assad also formed the National Progressive Front and a new Syrian constitution.
Bashar al-Assad, current President of Syria, promised economic and political reforms upon appointment but is seen to have delivered little change. According to Arab Press Freedom Watch the current government of Syria has been restrictive on freedom of expression. The Government also rated average on levels of freedom, political rights and civil liberties.
Muhammad Hosni Said Mubarak has been serving as President of Egypt since 1981. After the assassination of former Egyptian President Anwar Al Sadat, Mubarak, who had been elected Vice President in 1975, rose to the Presidency. He has been one of the most powerful leaders in the region and was able to nominate himself as the sole candidate for president when his National Democratic Party won the election in October 1987. Under Mubarak’s rule, diplomatic relations were resumed with other Arab state. Egypt was able to regain status and was readmitted to the Arab League in 1989. Mubarak was also in charge of the deployment of troops to defend Saudi Arabia after the Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Hosni Mubarak was reelected again in 1993, 1999 and in 2005. In the last election in 2005, the first in which voters could chose from more than one candidate, Mubarak won with 88.6% of the votes. There were reports of fraud and voter intimidation, and the government had made it difficult for other candidates to successfully campaign.
Mubarak achieved his long reign of 26 years, not by being a charismatic leader, but by maintaining stability in Egypt. Mubarak focused mostly on economic growth and political reform during his presidency. He allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to become part of parliament and gave more freedom to the press, and continued to put his efforts toward gaining neutrality between great powers and improving foreign relations. Mubarak never lifted the state of emergency imposed after Sadat’s assassination and he has been criticized harshly for his dictatorship style of government. As he nears the end of his position of leadership in Egypt, his son Gamal is the most likely candidate for succession.