What this country needs is a few good impeachments followed by trials. For our own good government we need to feel free to utilize the whole of the United States Constitution. The impeachment and trial mechanism in our national constitution has been become rusty—impaired for lack of use. We need to use it from time to time to assure it works. It’s infrequency makes it look a taboo.
The president is the CEO of our government. So says section 2. A corporate directors can fire the corporate CEO. Congress can fire the president. The power of removal from office is not reciprocal. The president can defy congress, but cannot fire congress.
Must a president actually have broken a law in order for Congress to trigger the process? No. For one thing, the 25th amendment allows removal for other reasons. For another, as the president’s power to pardon is absolute, so is the power of the Congress in this matter absolute. A president may be removed because she has failed to enforce the laws. Or has defied Congress. Or that her face offends—a whimsical overreach, yet constitutional. No smoking gun needed.
Our founding fathers created a mechanism for president firing. Concerted action of both houses of Congress. Clunky, yes—it is what we have to work with. Any argument that the mechanism was not intended for use is hard to understand. Or too dangerous to use, the same. Surely those old birds did not waste ink and paper adding sections not to be used.
Would the conviction of Mr. Johnson and Mr. Clinton have ruined our nation? Hardly, I would think. Any more than Mr. Nixon’s resignation. The heart of the concern is the prospect of removal of a president holding office as a result of a nation wide election by congressmen elected by districts of only 600,000. Surely a reason for pause and consideration. Something our Constitution writers provided. They made impeachment and trial clunky. Removal is not done by individual congressmen. It is done by a concerted act by both houses of Congress.
After a few good impeachments and trials the aura of taboo will evaporate. Then our nation will be better equipped to fire a president with whom we have lost confidence or who debases our nation’s most sacred principles.
Other governments, parliamentary governments, replace prime ministers at will. Trading some stability for more flexibility and less gridlock. Famously, as Hitler’s Panzers poured into France in 1940, the Parliament of the United Kingdom lost confidence in their prime minister and installed Winston Churchill.