What this country needs is a few good impeachments followed by convictions.
The acquittals of Johnson and Clinton in their Senate trials gave impeachment a bad name. (“Political,” I think.) So that conventional wisdom now holds that impeachment of a president “because his face offends” would be unpolitic. The 25th amendment allows the cabinet to do that, but our House of Representatives dares not. Requiring a violation of the criminal code.
The president is the CEO of our government. So says section 2. Loss of confidence in the corporate CEO is cause for removal. Loss of confidence is a political judgment. Loss of confidence is cause for impeachment of a president.
Let’s take a look at the government in the United Kingdom, the primary source of our legal traditions. The UK national CEO is removed if she loses the confidence of the parliament. No trial for high crimes or misdemeanors needed and no constitutional crisis proclaimed. A simple majority vote of no confidence by House of Commons members is all it takes.
Case in point: May of 1940. Hitler’s troops and tanks pour into France. The rapidly changing circumstances required a rapid change in government leadership. The UK government form was up to the task. Neville Chamberlain replaced by inspiring war leader Winston Churchill. How fortunate!
Our sainted founding fathers created a mechanism for national CEO removal: Concerted action of both houses of Congress. Clunky as that mechanism is, it is what we have to work with. Any argument that this 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.
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 be sure it still works.
Would the conviction of Johnson and Clinton have ruined our nation? Hardly, I would think. The civil rights of blacks citizens might have been better protected; The Iraq war might have not happened as it did. Moreover, the nation would be better equipped to replace a CEO of our government with whom we had lost confidence.
What this country needs, as well, is less celebration on January 20.
The inauguration/coronation adds stature to the office holder, limiting our own freedom to act to remove, if necessary. Regard should be earned, not awarded.
Some say the inaugural falderol celebrates the peaceful change of power. As if that issue was ever in any way in doubt. Who among us can even imagine a president barricading herself in the White House, Waco Branch Davidian style? Broadcasting: “The election was rigged!” No one with an oath registered in heaven to preserve, protect and defend the constitution would even think about doing that.