In light of the wild, weird press conference Donald Trump held Thursday, it might be time, rather than calling for impeachment, to discuss another course: invocation of the 25th amendment.
The 25th amendment was ratified in 1967 after Kennedy’s assassination and permits a president to appoint a vice-president when the position becomes vacant. However, other elements of the amendment aren’t widely known, chiefly transfer of power to the vice president when either the president requests it, as in a health crisis, and also if our nation’s leaders determine he’s unfit.
If the vice president and cabinet department heads notify the House Speaker and Senate President Pro Tempore that the president ain’t himself he’ll be removed until the president attempts to reinstate himself and it’s agreed that he may do so.
Obviously extreme, but in one month Trump, who ascended with almost 3,000,000 votes fewer than Hillary Clinton, and who’d waged a campaign of racist, narcissistic bullying, has continued to do so, appointing a slew of cabinet members determined to reverse decades of social, health, immigration and environmental progress. Along the way, he’s nominated some reasonable folks, such as Defense Secretary Mattis, but saw picks for State, Treasury, Attorney General and Health/Human Services confirmed only slightly, his Education choice okayed only with the Veep tie-breaker vote and Labor selection panned by the Senate, causing his withdrawal. Plus, his National Security Adviser was forced out due to questionable conversations with Russia’s ambassador while Obama was president.
At his first press conference Trump lambasted the press, who he’d tweeted was “enemy of the people,” said he had the largest Electoral College victory since Reagan until NBC’s reporter reminded him Bush 41 had done better, needlessly shut up a Jewish reporter who wanted a comment about anti-Jewish threats in America and continued to rant about Hillary Clinton, giving the impression of a president who’s clueless.
He’s defended his discredited anti-immigrant travel ban, deriding the initial disapproving judge as a “so-called judge” and took until Tuesday, after being pressed to do so for days, to condemn Anti-Semitism pervading our nation ― remarks dismissed as too late by the Anne Frank Center
He’s gone back and forth on NATO support, had unfriendly phone conversations with allies such as Australia and Mexico and appeared to threaten department stores who won’t promote daughter Ivanka’s clothes.
Plus, after the departure of Michael Flynn, Trump called him “wonderful,” blaming his exit on the media. Flynn did nothing wrong except misinform the vice president. Trump was more irritated about leaks than Flynn’s wrongful act. This, from someone who praised Wikileaks when they attacked Hillary. Not to mention his July plea to the Russians to release the so-called 30,000 plus “lost” Hillary emails bandied about by her enemies.
That Flynn was replaced by the widely praised H.R. McMaster doesn’t offer much comfort, knowing Trump’s still in charge of the nuclear button.
If the 25th Amendment seems unlikely with the players at hand, I’ll reaffirm we should organize marches, creating lots of hoopla, but not just about Trump’s indecency and incapacity to serve as president, but about the issue that brought us here: The Electoral College and how to reduce its potency.
Five times in our history the loser became president, whereas the popular choice was always a Democrat (Jackson in 1824, Tilden in 1876, Cleveland in 1888, Gore in 2000 and Clinton last year). And always the nation did nothing, presuming the forefathers had it right, that the nation should be protected from uninformed, uneducated voters. Our country is modern now, whereas those same founders permitted slavery and didn’t allow women to vote. Subsequent amendments changed that, in addition to lowering the voting age and limiting presidential terms, so why can’t we recognize it’s insane to deprive Americans their choice because of an antiquated system that rewards underpopulated states, making geography the order of the day.
It took almost 200 years and a fourth assassination for the 25th Amendment to come about, in spite of sixteen instances with no vice presidents for the remainder of a president’s term. Wilson was incapacitated, and few people knew. Something tumultuous caused the fix; something tumultuous should now do the same.
Opponents decry the more liberal voters in cities or on both coasts, essentially saying voters aren’t equal, that greater citizen numbers shouldn’t hold sway over national issues. Thus, we have almost three million more voters disenfranchised, forced to abide by laws, regulations and court decisions they didn’t want, invoked by a president whose policies and behavior they roundly rejected.
A solution to the difficulties surrounding a constitutional amendment is the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which says state governments award their Electoral Votes to the popular vote winner, even if its voters preferred another candidate. It becomes effective when states with a collective 270 votes pass the law. Ten states and Washington, D.C. (with 165 electoral votes) have done so.
Further resistance to this solution is that candidates would only campaign in states rich with their party’s brethren, but realistically it would cause candidates to campaign everywhere to wring out every vote, especially in close elections. People forget there were many people in Wyoming, Mississippi and Texas who voted for Hillary, and millions who voted for Trump in New York and California. Why shouldn’t all votes cumulatively decide issues of national interest?
It may be a lost cause for truly conservative regions, but states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Oregon, even Connecticut, states where it’s passed in one house but not in another, might join possibly moderate swing states likewise split to come aboard if marches were conducted creating political impetus for legislators to support what’s naturally right. All citizens should have an equal choice to elect our president.
Michael Russnow’s website is www.ramproductionsinternational.com
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