Mr. President: “You’re Fired!”
(In)famous for many things, President Donald Trump spent 14 years hosting “The Apprentice” on NBC. His signature line on the so-called “reality show” was “You’re Fired!” For reasons which will be discussed below, the American electorate needs to say the same thing to Trump, in five months.
Unlike California, which has the Recall Election, which allows for the recall of a terribly-defective elected official, the United States has no such statute. We had a chance to get rid of him via the impeachment process, but the Senate, his jury, abdicated its responsibilities several months ago and have left things to the American voters.
Now, in light of Trump’s complete failure in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, and his arsonist-blaming-the-fire-department reactions to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the people of the United States could be well-justified in saying to Trump: “Time to go, Big Dawg!”
With 40 million workers unemployed; a trade war with China that has cost the American economy multiple billions of dollars in losses; two recent confrontations with both individualized and systemic racism (Amy Cooper and the murder of George Floyd, respectively); a failed impeachment trial of a known sexual predator and self-aggrandizing pathological liar; lack of leadership from a White House characterized by its xenophobia, racism, misogyny, homophobia, and religious bigotry, not to mention its complete lack of empathy for those of us who have been suffering for years, and Trump’s affiliation with the worst classes of people in society (the modern-day version of the Robber Barons, as well as the geriatric kindergartners in Congress), it’s no wonder that we want Trump removed from office — NOW.
Can we legally remove Trump ahead of the November 3, 2020 general election? Apart from impeachment, there is a constitutional provision that, in theory, could be used to “cancel” the “Trump Show.”
The 25th Amendment
As enacted, the 25th Amendment exists to insure orderly succession in the Office of the President.
Consisting of four articles, it’s the last one which is relevant, here. If there’s a strong belief that the President is incapable of competently performing his duties, then the Vice President and the cabinet officials would vote on removing him from office.
If the majority votes for removal, then a letter is sent to the president pro tempore of the Senate, now Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Speaker of the House, now Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), providing the results of their vote.
The President could respond with a counter-letter, claiming he is capable of performing his duties, allowing the president to continue work as usual, unless the Vice President and cabinet send another letter within four days restating their demand. Under those circumstances, the Vice President would become the Acting President while Congress votes.
Both houses of Congress would have to vote within 21 days in these conditions, and a two-thirds vote from each chamber is required to remove the President from office and lawfully install the Vice President as the replacement. If the vote in either chamber was to fall short, the President would resume his duties.
But is it Likely to be Used?
The 25th Amendment has never been invoked, so there is no precedent for its use.
What we know is that Vice President Mike Pence has demonstrated steadfast loyalty to Trump from the day of their Inauguration. He is not at all likely to lead a move to replace Trump.
Likewise, Trump’s Cabinet members are all right-wingers who would never deviate from the line that Trump has drawn.
Thus, the 25th Amendment would be completely unavailing to us to get rid of Trump.
So what’s the alternative?
Get Out the Vote
It’s a commonplace among community organizers and politicians to say “Vote Like Your Life Depends On It!” Yet, we had many people in 2016 and 2018 who did not go to their polling places. They let Trump and his cronies get elected, all to our collective harm.
So the solution is this: Get Out the Vote!
Trump’s base, consisting of people who have bought what he’s been selling, will continue to do so for as long as they live. Those folks will not change their voting pattern, because change would be tantamount to an admission that they’re wrong about everything, and the base’s intransigence in the face of facts and morality is too well-established to seriously expect them to admit the error of their ways.
The people whose vote is essential are the Independents, the swing-voters, those who didn’t like any of the choices among those running for office in 2016 and 2018. But they HAVE to vote now, because if they don’t and if Trump returns to office they will be complicit in returning a modern version of King Henry VIII to office, with nuclear weapons at his disposal.
If Joe Biden is elected in November, would he be a great President? Almost assuredly not. He, too, has some indications of early-onset dementia, but his choice of a running mate to whom he could delegate a substantial part of the President’s duties could dramatically improve the country’s position, both domestically and in the world at large.
If he were to choose Kamala Harris or Val Demings, two African-American women in Congress, that would do a lot for the optics of his campaign, and it would definitely curry favor with the female African-American vote, which he needs in order to definitively push him over the top in a race against Trump. Choosing Elizabeth Warren would help secure the Bernie Sanders’ base of progressives, but it would then get down to a conflict between visual perceptions — sensitivity to race — and the need for a major shift in our economic basics.
Neither Demings nor Harris have the academic and policy chops that would help them to lead us into a Green New Deal, which, arguably, would be of far greater importance to us than bringing an African-American person on board in the Biden Administration.
We need a sea change in our country’s socio-economic structures. For the environment, for the future of labor, for our position as a leader in the world, it is essential that we institute massive reforms in how people make a living. Shifting from hydrocarbons to alternative energy sources; major infrastructure programs, with corresponding job training, and the creation of millions of jobs that would save our environment, give families good incomes, and stop America from being the Potemkin Village that it has become, are vital goals we must pursue, starting now. These are objectives that a Vice President Warren can seek to achieve — but first, we must VOTE TRUMP OUT, in massive numbers, so that he cannot use his legal chicanery to claim that the November election was fouled by fraud.
If we do so, then we can create the great America of which much has been written, but little seen, since that fateful day, July 4, 1776.
Trump must be removed, and then America will once again have hope.