Our new president for four years… no, for six months?

How Long Can a White House Denizen Actually Govern?

Whomever gets the electoral nod in November and signs the lease on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will have a limited window in which to leave his unfettered mark on the nation as its leader.  The new president, whoever he is, will have to cram most of his agenda into a very short time.

The politicos will tell you, a new president can govern at the most for 180 days.  Just six months.  In that time he has to take the mettle of the Congress, and they must take his – he has to put forth his legislative agenda  and prioritize it, in an effort to get as much done as possible in that very short window.  He has to win the hand of the people for re-election in that same 180 days if he wants a second term.


After that 180 days it’s time to begin worrying about the mid-term elections – having courted Congress for half-a-year, the president has an interested in returning his friends to office – and replacing those whom he brands as obstreperous.  Most often he is using the power of the White House to campaign for his own party to assure (or reassure) that the numbers on both sides of the aisle tip heavily toward his own party.

The president’s main function is helping candidates in his party raise money.  A Member of Congress must raise ten thousand dollars a week to have enough of a war-chest for re-election, and a Senator must raise half-again that much to have a chance of staying in office.

And after those mid-terms, however they happen to tip, a first-term president must begin working toward his own re-election.

President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney have a lot at stake this election season.  Both must sell their policies and economic plans to the electorate in a compelling enough manner to win the votes.  But that’s only the beginning.  The winner then has to keep his policies before the people; they have to survive the town-hall meetings and the coffee-shop discussions, and they have to get through Congress before the mid-terms begin the new election cycle.

Four more years? Sorta.