There’s a better, smarter, long term stategy
The fantasies abound, don’t they? Visions of that day in some not-so-far-off future, where President Donald J. Trump finally pulls some outrageous, undeniably unconstitutional Easy-D, and gets his executive comeuppance.
In any number of imaginary, #NotMyPresident fan-fic plotlines, he’ll be charged, tried, and told “You’re fired!” by the required two-thirds majority of the Senate, then deported to Russia, living out his remaining years in a Twitter-less Siberian gulag.
Hey, your Trump impeachment fantasy may be different than this, of course (and the complicated process of how impeachment actually works can be found in far better detail here) but the outcome is the same: Trump is somehow disgraced and removed, and then...and then...and then...what? What happens next?
The “what happens next” question is important, particularly around the three-day President’s Day holiday weekend, where instead of celebrating our nation’s democracy by buying a mattress at 40 percent off like we usually do, thousands of people will be marching in various #NotMyPresident’s Day protests around the country carrying “Impeach Trump” signs. If they’re not doing that, they’re at home buying “Impeach Trump” shirts. Or perhaps signing “Impeach Trump Now” petitions. However it’s happening, there’s a lot of energy being spent on this impeachment fantasy, without a practical understanding of what happens next. So let’s play it out.
Trump somehow gets the boot. What happens next?
In the unlikely event that Trump is removed from office through impeachment (or Nixonian resignation), Vice President Mike Pence becomes our Commander in Chief. Most of us know that. But if that happens, who takes Pence’s spot?
Pence potentially nominates his VP pick, but let’s imagine Paul Ryan, GOP Speaker of the House. So instead of Trump/Pence, we now we have a Pence/Ryan administration. Between Pence’s hardcore Christian anti-choice stance and Ryan’s glinty, libertarian views (Ryan gives out copies of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged—as Christmas gifts), the future will look like a Republican turducken of a Handmaid’s Tale totalitarian theocracy stuffed inside the Hunger Games stuffed inside Wall Street. Not good.
But for the heck of it, let’s take it a step further.
Somehow, Pence is involved with Trump’s shenanigans, and both are removed from office. What happens next?
Paul Ryan, only this time he’s the president. And he gets his VP pick.
But what happens next if he can’t serve?
According to the United States presidential line of succession, the next man up (sorry, the future is still male), is the President pro tempore of the Senate, a role currently held by Orrin Hatch, the 80-something arch-conservative leader from Utah. According to his recently released “Hatch Plan,” he’s like an old guy post-Cocoon pool. He’s cranky on some things but surprisingly flexible in allowing immigrants into the U.S. (provided they are highly skilled, STEM workers) and, if my understanding of his plan is correct, appears to be in support of net neutrality, unlike many of his Republican colleagues, including Trump’s appointed FCC chairman Ajit Pai. But let’s be honest, we’re cherry picking here.
Granted, the political chain of command presented here is absurdly oversimplified, but fact is, no matter how far down the impeachment hole we go, it’s a Mariana Trench of conservative leadership, with faces and policies you’d be hard pressed to tell apart. See, if the future President Hatch didn’t make it to his 82nd birthday, the draft picks now head over to Trump’s cabinet, starting with the Secretary of State. That would be President Rex Tillerson.
So let’s move away from this impeachment talk—or at least understand it’s not going to happen in some fantasy swift order—and focus on what has proven to work, when people actually do it: voting on a local and state level. If the number of people turn out for the municipal March 7, 2017 primaries as they did for the Women’s March, then we’d be getting somewhere. There are mayoral races kicking off all over the country—fresh faces and new ideas that could bubble up progress, including this key opportunity in St. Louis, MO, which could potentially lead to adopting new policing policies that might prevent another Ferguson. In Los Angeles—a potentially vulnerable sanctuary city—powerful city council seats are being considered, as are 10 potential mayors vying to replace Eric Garcetti.
From a purely partisan view of Democrats vs. Republicans—a “taking a side” position most voters have been backed into—the 2018 Congressional midterms could prove essential, according to the Washington Post. But the midterm voter turnout in 2014 was a scant 36 percent—the lowest in 70 years. To quote our current leader: SAD!
I suppose this is the part when I say, “It’s Trump! Anything can happen.” OK. So go ahead, go out and #NotMyPresident this President’s Day. But enough with the Impeach petitions. Look beyond it. And get to work on figuring out the who, what, and how you’re going to vote next month—and next year.