A shot rang out through the cold November air. The report echoed about the plaza, causing confusion and chaos. Another shot followed the first. People were screaming, running and diving for cover. A third shot, the last of three, punctuated the final terrifying moments of an American president’s life. A city, a state, and a nation found itself suddenly leaderless. With the United States in the middle of the Cold War, the death of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy by an assassin’s hand could have left the United States in confusion, which her enemies could capitalize on to her detriment.
Thankfully, the Founding Fathers, in their wisdom, had provided for this eventuality, crafting into the Constitution, Article II, Section 1, Clause 6, which provided the order of presidential succession necessary to preserve the political coherency of the United States in the event of the death or disability of the president. Just over two hours after the shots were fired that took the president’s life, Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn in as the 36th President of the United States of America.
Of crucial note here, especially in our current political climate, with a president whose political fortunes have fallen, whose moral and legal failings threaten to delegitimize his administration, and whose temperament and psychological fitness are both genuinely to be questioned, that the Constitution presently ensures that, should Donald Trump be removed from office through resignation or impeachment, Vice President Michael Richard Pence would immediately be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States of America.
“In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President…”
-Constitution of the United States of America-
Of special interest is the 25th Amendment not only doesn’t change the succession to the office of President, but it also provides for the succession to the Vice Presidency, as well as clarifies the justifications for succession. Despite the inarguable certitude of this political fact of our Constitution, even a full 10 months after the election of 2016, Donald Trump’s misguided supporters still cite Hillary Clinton as a major reason to continue to support Trump’s administration.
Ladies and gentlemen, Hillary Clinton lost the election. In exactly zero readings of the United States Constitution does the defeated candidates of the last presidential election have any relevance at all to the chain of succession to the office of president. If, by grace or by glory, Donald Trump is relieved of his office, it would not be Hillary Clinton’s voice we hear next addressing the nation as president, but Mike Pence’s. So, for those who are keeping score, the cries of “What about Hillary?” are absolutely irrelevant to the question “Should Trump be removed from office?“
The answer to that question is clearly and incontestably “Yes!“, and, were a vote of no confidence available to the public, then this question would not be a question of discussion but action. For many reasons, we can be thankful that it isn’t, but it does leave us uncomfortably dependent on a reliably unreliable Congress to do what is necessary. It is time for Donald Trump to go, and for everyone who argued that the last election was a “binary choice” between “a terrible candidate, who would destroy our nation, or an awful candidate, who would at least save the Supreme Court“, congratulations. You got Gorsuch.
Now chew on a new binary choice between “an awful president, who is a daily embarrassment to the office and the nation, or a reasonable president, who would get everything the awful president supposedly gets us without the perpetual and insufferable idiocy“. This should be an easy choice and a much better one that I was offered in November.
Liberty is For The Win!