The dump Trump dilemma, or how to impeach a gerbil
Last weekend I concluded that, finally, Trump had alienated enough people in America for the “elite” to agree he has to be dumped. The following four recent events inspired this notion:
1. Every single cellphone in Hawaii got a text message that “a ballistic missile is incoming, this is not a drill”. Over a million people had 15 minutes to find a place to take shelter, except there are no such shelters in Hawaii. Trump, who has no clue how catastrophic nuclear explosions are, responded by playing more golf. He refuses to talk to North Korea.
2. To date, 19 women have accused the President of assaulting, raping, or sexually harassing them. Last week three sex workers added their Trump tales, one who serviced him just after his wife gave birth to their son. Trump, who is to feminism as a hyena is to vegetarianism, says every one of these 22 women is making it up.
3. Republicans have spent decades redrawing US electoral district boundaries so that they can now maintain a majority of representatives in the House even if Democrats win 56% of votes nationally. But a federal Court just ruled that North Carolina’s gerrymandering was unconstitutional, citing a memo by the guy who redrew that state’s districts saying “I think electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats, so I drew this map to help foster what I think is better for the country.” The gerrymanderers will now face the judgment of the Supreme Court.
4. Last week, Republican and Democratic members of Congress agreed on new immigration rules — then Trump said no. Consequences are that 800,000 people who came to the US as children could be deported, and refugees from natural disasters in the 70 or so countries Trump called “shitholes” could be denied entry. He told Democrats if they agreed to fund his 3145km wall along the border with Mexico he might reconsider. They said no and the US government shut down.
Any one of these four developments might have triggered a party-room coup against a Prime Minister in Australia, but they won’t topple Trump, because the US Constitution makes it almost impossible to fire a President.
To impeach the Commander-in-Chief for “malpractice or neglect of duty”, or for “treason, bribery or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”, a majority in the House of Representatives and two-thirds of the Senate has to agree. Bill Clinton was impeached by the House but escaped by one vote in the Senate, mostly because his public approval rating was 70%. Raw politics rule.
Trump’s approval is at 40%, but the Republican’s House and Senate majorities can still refuse to impeach him. And if Democrats win a mass of new seats in Congressional elections in November, they still won’t have two thirds of the Senate.
Likewise, even if former FBI boss Robert Mueller convicts Trump, his family, or his staff of a “high crime” or two, the votes still won’t be there.
Furthermore, even if a super-majority of Congress did decide to vote him out, they would have to be prepared for a monstrous legal shit-storm — they know that 315 of their own 535 fellow members of Congress are lawyers. The already toxic incivility of American party politics could escalate into outright civil war, including in the streets.
What about the 25th amendment to the Constitution which sets rules for replacing a President who’s incapable due to physical or mental impairment? First, the 25th requires the Vice President, a majority of Cabinet members, and two-thirds of both houses of Congress to agree.
And imagine trying to prove Trump is mentally incompetent — whatever shit you threw, his lawyers would just say “What’s new?”
As NYU Law School Constitutional expert Burt Neuborne puts it: “The 25th amendment is not a vehicle for buyer’s remorse. The people elected Trump knowing that he is a narcissistic, ignorant, short-tempered bully with the attention span of a gerbil.” So there.
Why do at least a third of Americans still stand by him? I suggest it’s because they, and him, are what the ancient Greeks called idiotes. Derived from the Greek word “idios” meaning self, or pertaining to self, idiotes were people who rejected political participation and collective governance, acting solely in their own individual interests.
It’s the underlying flaw in the American way of life really, too many idiotes.
The biggest flaw in the world is that the President has his chubby pink thumb on the red button that launches nuclear warheads.