TWO YEARS into President Donald Trump’s presidency and a lot of Americans ask, “How did we get here?”
After a scandal-free Obama presidency, America now is being “led” by a business mogul who runs the country in the same way as his reality show — full of drama, cliff hangers, no respect for the truth, no sense of accountability.
Two years into the Trump presidency and we have a “leader” facing numerous investigations and lawsuits along with his family, business empire, charitable foundation, campaign and transition team.
Two years into the Trump presidency and we have a “leader” who has been deemed to be sleeping with the enemy of the United States (Russia), while being obsessed and infatuated with other dictators of the world, while waging war and animosity with the long-time allies of the United States and breaking ties with nations and organizations the United States had treaties with to honor — much to the delight of his beloved Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Two years into the Trump presidency and we have a “leader” who has been undermining the democratic institutions of the United States: the U.S. intelligence community, the judiciary, the legislature, the free news media.
Two years into the Trump presidency and we have a “leader” who dares fabricate a fake “national emergency” when there is no national emergency at the border just so he could build the wall he promised his blind followers during the campaign, aiming to funnel money appropriated for disaster relief and military projects to fund his wall. When in fact, if this was a true national emergency, he would have made it a priority when he had control of both the Senate and House of Representatives, and not wait for the House to be reclaimed by Democrats two years after.
Two years into the Trump presidency and we have a “leader” who divides America instead of unifying us, demonizing immigrants – both documented and undocumented,” giving preferential treatment to white people at the expense of people of color — in violation of the Constitution.
How did we get here and how do we get out of this quagmire? We have heard about impeachment, the 2020 elections, we have also heard about invoking the 25th Amendment — removing the president from office when it can be proven he is unfit to fulfill the duties, responsibilities and obligation of being president.
Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute explained that the 25th Amendment was an effort to resolve some of the continuing issues revolving around the Office of the President — “What happens upon death, removal, removal, or resignation of the President and what is the course to follow if for some reason the President becomes disabled to such a degree that he cannot fulfill his responsibilities.”
I did some reading about this and let me share with you what I learned about it.
Amendment XXV, “Presidential Disability and Succession” was passed by Congress on July 6, 1965. It was ratified on February 10, 1967, intended to change a portion of Article II, Section 1of the US Constitution.
According to the National Constitution Center, the US Constitution is one of the most difficult constitutions in the world to amend. It explained that to do this requires to surmount the hard job of getting two-thirds of the House, two-thirds of the Senate, and three-quarters of the states’ legislatures to agree on something. However, it pointed out that “the really hard part of passing an amendment is getting Congress to deal with it in the first place.”
Writer Brian C. Kalt explained: “Being a good idea is not enough to make something happen in Congress. Congress has limited space on its agenda, and typically it takes action only when doing so serves the interests of politically powerful constituencies. There must be something in it for them.”
The author then looked back to three important factors that made the 25th Amendment part of the Constitution.
The first factor was on presidential disability, “the impetus for change came from the White House. In Congress, hundreds of representatives and senators each consider hundreds of issues and balance the interests of hundreds of clamoring interest groups. By contrast, when President Eisenhower suffered his serious health issues, he was just one man presented with one very stark reality: if he ever got really sick, the Constitution would not handle it well. This was particularly problematic in the middle of the Cold War. It was time for a change, and Eisenhower’s subsequent efforts at reform got the ball rolling.”
The second factor was “the shocking assassination of President Kennedy in November 1963 created a brief window of opportunity, during which the nation was more inclined than usual to look at issues outside of the usual interest-group politics. It was a rare opportunity to focus the country’s attention on issues of presidential and vice-presidential vacancies, and presidential disability.”
“Third, and probably most important, was the extraordinary leadership of Senator Birch Bayh. Shortly before the Kennedy assassination, Bayh—then in his first year in the Senate—became chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s sleepy Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments. The subcommittee had already been considering these issues, but Bayh committed energy and political capital to making the project a high congressional priority. Unusually, he did this despite the lack of an obvious, immediate political payoff.”
The question then here is that after two years of the Republican-led Congress’ subservience to President Donald J. Trump, relinquishing and abandoning the checks and balance responsibility of their co-equal branch of government, what will happen now that the Democrats have reclaimed leadership of the House of Representatives?
Would the people we elected to represent us in government have that fortitude to make this case against the 45th president of the United States?
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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos