"There are like 10 things I would change in the Constitution with a magic wand," Jeb Bush said Monday on the campaign trail.
But the former Florida governor went on to indicate that unless he finds a magic wand, he's probably not going to be able to accomplish any of those 10.
And if history is any indication at all, he's right. Presidential candidates routinely call for constitutional amendments -- most recently Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker appearing to side with Donald Trump to change the 14th Amendment and repeal birthright citizenship -- but rarely with success.
That's because, if you'll recall from high school history class -- or Philip Bump's post Tuesday on The Fix -- changing the Constitution is very difficult. It requires an agreement by a two-thirds super-majority of Congress and then to be ratified by three-fourths of states, or 38 out of 50.
Only 27 proposals out of countless ideas in our country's 239-year history have climbed that steep hill. And many of those were passed under extenuating circumstances, like political crises, war and death.
Here's the history of eight constitutional amendments that were arguably only enshrined into U.S. law due to extreme circumstances.
Refined the process by which our president and vice president are chosen
Stats: Passed by Congress on Dec. 9, 1803. Ratified on June 15, 1804.
Background: Up until 1804, the candidate who received the most votes from the Electoral College was president, and the candidate who received the second-most votes was vice president. That's what happened in the 1796 election when John Adams became our nation's second president and Thomas Jefferson his vice president. But in 1800, this system created a deadlock among two candidates: Jefferson and Aaron Burr. To solve this, the equally deadlocked House of Representatives had to vote 35 times before Jefferson eked out a majority and became the third president. As a result, the 12th Amendment was proposed a few years later to make Electoral College ballots for president and vice president two separate elections. It was ratified within a year.
Bottom line: It took a deadlocked presidential election for the 12th Amendment to be enshrined in our Constitution.
Stats: Passed by Congress on Jan. 31, 1865. Ratified on Dec. 6, 1865.
Background: As start-to-finish races for amendments goes, the 13th was pretty quick. Rep. James Mitchell Ashley officially proposed a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery on Dec. 14, 1863, and it was ratified 10 months after Congress passed it.
But the nation was still at war with itself when Congress was voting on abolishing slavery, and no Southern states were represented in the vote. (Even for Union states, the amendment remained controversial. President Lincoln, running for his second term in 1864, remained publicly neutral on it until he won reelection.) Lincoln was assassinated before the amendment was ratified, but President Andrew Johnson made abolishing slavery a key component of Reconstruction for states coming back into the union. It was a battle, but he did it.
Bottom line: It took the South losing the Civil War for the 13th Amendment to be enshrined in our Constitution.
Granted citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” including slaves, and required states to provide equal protection to all citizens
Stats: Passed by Congress on June 13, 1866. Ratified on July 9, 1868.
Background: The 14th Amendment actually overruled an infamous Supreme Court decision, the 1857 Dred Scott case that ruled that descendants of slaves could not be citizens.
After the Civil War wrapped up, Congress debated what to do with the freed slaves, who would now factor into congressional representation in the House of Representatives. Politically, that meant a leg up to Southern states and the Democratic Party and potential trouble for the more Northern-centric Republican Party.
More than 70 proposals for a constitutional amendment to rebalance this new electoral reality in America were drafted. Congress debated it for about a year and then eventually passed the 14th Amendment.
The real trouble came when the amendment was sent to the states to ratify it. State legislatures in nearly every former Confederate state refused to do so. Congress and President Johnson then had to pass another law, the Reconstruction Acts, which basically imposed military rule in those states until they ratified it.
Bottom line: It took two laws -- overriding a Supreme Court decision and imposing military rule in at least a dozen states -- for the 14th Amendment to be enshrined in our Constitution.
The 15th Amendment
Prohibited the denial of the right to vote based on "race, color or previous condition of servitude"
Stats: Passed by Congress on Feb. 26, 1869. Ratified on Feb. 3, 1870.
Background: The last of the Reconstruction-Era amendments came about after an intense debate on how America's newly freed citizens would fit into our electoral process. The 13th and 14th amendments promised to give Southern states -- read: Democrats -- more representation in Congress.
The Northern Republicans were concerned that without allowing the freed slaves the right to vote, they would be at a significant electoral disadvantage in Congress. So the Republican-controlled Congress passed the 15th Amendment during a lame-duck session.
Ratification process among the states was bitter -- only eight Northern states allowed black Americans to vote at the time -- with to-the-vote political battles in many state legislatures. Some Southern states were still governed by a sort of military rule, which made the process easier.
Bottom line: It took the South losing the Civil War, a lame-duck session of Congress and imposing military rule in some Southern states for the 15th Amendment to be enshrined in our Constitution.
The 17th Amendment
Established the direct election of U.S. senators by popular vote
Stats: Passed by Congress on May 13, 1912. Ratified on April 8, 1913.
Background: Up until 1913, state legislatures chose their two senators to represent them in Congress. There wasn't any one specific incident that led to the 17th Amendment; rather, many potential cases of corruption or electoral deadlock spurred momentum. One of the first calls for reform came in 1828, with the movement gradually picking up supporters. It reached a tipping point in 1910, when 31 state legislatures had passed motions calling for reform -- a reform that would take away their power to choose some of the nation's most powerful elected officials.
Bottom line: It took nearly a century of campaigning and almost three-fourths of state legislatures voting to abrogate their power for the 17th Amendment to be enshrined in our Constitution.
The 21st Amendment
Repealed the 18th Amendment, allowing for the manufacturing, transportation and sale of "intoxicating liquors"
Stats: Passed by Congress on Feb. 20, 1933. Ratified on Dec. 5, 1933.
Background: The 18th Amendment essentially banned alcohol and its public consumption in 1919. It was an attempt to limit crime and generally improve society. But the movement backfired: Gangsters like Al Capone profited off a violent black market for liquor, and the 18th Amendment soon became incredibly unpopular.
The politics of Prohibition were so divisive that when Congress finally proposed repealing Prohibition in 1933, it did so by a never-before-used method in the Constitution. Congress called for state conventions -- essentially statewide referendums -- as opposed to sending the amendment to state legislatures for ratification. Forty-eight states quickly ratified the 21st Amendment, repealing Prohibition.
Bottom line: It took extraordinary crime, an incredibly unpopular constitutional amendment and the unorthodox use of state conventions for the 21st Amendment to be enshrined in our Constitution.
The 22nd Amendment
Set a term limit for the president of the United States.
Stats: Passed by Congress on March 21, 1947. Ratified on Feb. 27, 1951.
Background: Today, we laugh it off when President Obama jokes about running for a third term. But until 1951, many a president had considered it (apparently some still do!). Ulysses. S Grant and Grover Cleveland and Theodore Roosevelt unsuccessfully tried to do it.
Only Franklin D. Roosevelt succeeded, though. He won an unprecedented third (1940) and fourth terms (1944) -- the latter in the midst of America's increased involvement in World War II -- despite the fact that his health was failing. Roosevelt brushed off rumors on the campaign he was ill. But five months after taking office for the fourth time, though, Roosevelt proved the rumors true. He died in office in April 1945, a month before the war in Europe ended.
A few years later, Congress took up a proposal to limit the presidency to two terms -- something that Roosevelt's opponent, Thomas Dewey, advocated for during the 1944 campaign. The 22nd amendment was debated, passed and ratified with relatively little drama.
Bottom line: It took Roosevelt's campaign promise that he was healthy and his subsequent death in office during a World War for the 22nd Amendment to be enshrined in our Constitution.
Determined how a president would be succeeded upon death or incapacitation
Stats: Passed by Congress on July 6, 1965. Ratified on Feb. 10, 1967.
Background: Article II, section 1, of the Constitution did not say whether the vice president should become president or just acting president upon the death or incapacitation of the president. But after John F. Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963 and President Lyndon B. Johnson took over, the nation realized it need a clearer set of succession instructions.
There were already proposals floating in Congress to that effect. Even before Kennedy was killed, Johnson had a heart attack, and the next two men in line were in their 70s and 80s.
Bottom line: It took a president's assassination for the 25th Amendment to be enshrined in our Constitution.