Trump’s record-breaking historic unpopularity is dragging down the Republican Party and it is undoubtedly too late to stop his effect on the coming midterm election. If Trump stays, he energizes and mobilizes Democrats and demoralizes moderate Republicans with his incompetence, corruption, and steady stream of embarrassing, dishonorable problems. If Trump goes and Pence becomes president, the Republican party will demoralize the large fraction of the GOP that are Trump fanatics who believe that Trump is God’s choice for president and all the embarrassing stuff he does is being organized by a Deep State conspiracy centered on our own FBI (which is managed by Trump!) and the Mueller investigation (which was set up by Republicans and is led by a Republican) to create fake news. Plus, the Republican Party elites will have to admit that the party made a mistake nominating Trump which is extremely difficult for elites to do.
So far, Republican Party elites are calculating that they are better off keeping Trump than going through the big short-run hassle of switching out for Pence, but this is short sighted. It doesn’t staunch the steady bleeding that will only get worse and it risks a major problem next year. The Republican Party is likely to lose control of the House which means that Trump flunkie Devin Nunes will no longer be in charge of the House’s investigations of Trump corruption and putting control of the investigation into less sympathetic hands will make the bleeding worse. Under Speaker Pelosi, the House is not going to be shy about impeaching Trump. It would be better for the party and the nation if a sympathetic Paul Ryan is leading the impeachment. Furthermore, there is a distinct possibility that Pence has done something criminal due to working for a corrupt President that will taint him and then the next in line for presidential succession is the Speaker of the House. It would be better for the nation if Trump were replaced with Ryan rather than Pelosi.
A president Pelosi in 2019 risks a bigger constitutional crisis than a President Pence or President Ryan in 2018 because Republicans will mostly rally around Pence or Ryan just like the have rallied around Trump. Even most of the millions of Republicans who thought he was unqualified for the presidency before the election ended up supporting Trump and the party will do the same for Pence or Ryan. They won’t rally around a President Pelosi. Similarly, although Democrats aren’t thrilled about a President Pence (and my liberal friends have been much more against the idea than my conservative friends) they will give more support to any competent president who isn’t corrupt than to Trump. They just think they will win bigger in the long run with Trump. But that is dangerous too. Trump is helping the Democrats win by harming America. Nobody should want to get ahead by taking advantage of the harm their opponent is doing if there is a chance to stop the harm.
In a parliamentary democracy, the Prime Minister serves the executive role like a President in a presidential system. For political parties to win an election and then decide that they have the wrong leader and switch to another Prime Minister who had been elected in the same party is a normal, uncontroversial practice.
in parliamentary systems, the legislature has the right to dismiss a Prime Minister at any time if they feel that he or she is not doing the job as well as expected. This is called a “motion of no confidence,” and is not as much of a drawn out process. In the US, impeachment is an extensive, formal process in which an official is accused of doing something illegal.
Because Americans elected the Republican Party to control both houses of the legislature, it should be uncontroversial if they use their constitutional power to switch presidents to another elected member of the same party who can do the job better for matters of corruption and temperament. A major weakness of presidential democracies like America is that it we lack an effective mechanism for replacing the executive (the President) in case of mental decline, insanity, health problems, or creeping authoritarianism. In fact, presidential systems are more prone to devolve into dictatorship than parliamentary systems for this reason and the problems of excessive gridlock among others. This is why the US has not imposed our system of government on other nations that we have taken over in war like Germany, Japan, and Iraq.
Even when a president is criminally corrupt, it is very difficult in the US system to replace him because the impeachment system is far too partisan and too full of veto points. Parliamentary systems are more robust to problems of corruption because it is easier and less dangerous for a party to quickly make a motion of no confidence and switch leaders to always keep the best possible person in the party as the leader. In the US system, both parties have to agree on impeachment in both houses of the legislature. That is very hard to do because both parties have incentives to keep a bad president. For the opposition party, a bad leader like Trump taints his whole party look and makes the next election much easier for the challengers. For the incumbent party, a bad leader like Trump is also hard to deal with (even in a Parliamentary system) because the leader has so much power to resists a challenge just as Trump is fighting the legitimacy of the FBI and the Republican-led investigations and that makes it difficult to oppose the most powerful person in a nation. Plus, it is always embarrassing and damaging for the party to have to admit a mistake about something as important as the leader that they chose.
However, it will get much more embarrassing for the Republicans when the Democrats take control of the House in 2019 and begin using their subpoena power to reveal Trump’s tax forms, his business dealings, more affairs, involvement in some abortions. Think about what the Starr investigation was able to dig up on Bill Clinton under the direction of a Republican-controlled house after five years of investigations and hearings. Starr didn’t find anything that he was originally supposed to look for, but he did find an unrelated sexual affair that was bad enough that the House impeached Clinton. And Starr steadily created leaks and news releases that constantly embarrassed and distracted Clinton for five years. Imagine what a more partisan investigation could do to Trump? Oh the tweets we will see. Also, there are thousands of hours of video footage of Trump engaging in more “locker-room talk” on the set of The Apprentice that reputably contain some horrifying quotes that have yet to come to light. It is only going to get worse for Trump and the Republican Party and it is time to put an end to it. He has already clearly done more than Nixon did to get impeached. He has admitted to obstructing the investigation into the Russian crime of tampering in the Presidential election to get him elected and we know that top members of his campaign and close members of his family knew about this crime. Instead of reporting it to the FBI or the CIA, or the press, or anyone legitimate that could have thwart the crime, they sought out meetings with shady Russians to talk about collaboration on… something or other. It is treasonous to aid foreign criminals who have committed felonies in order to subvert an American election by not reporting knowledge of the crime.
It will just get more embarrassing for Republicans to have a Democratic-controlled branch of government investigating Trump because they will be even more aggressive, and it will be more painful for everyone than having Republicans take care of their own problem by themselves. Look at the history of the mess of the House impeachment of Bill Clinton. It was reversed by the Senate despite Republican control because the vast majority of American felt like it was too partisan and unjustified. A ‘witch hunt’ was a common description by opponents and enough Republican senators agreed to acquit Clinton.
The only successful impeachment in history happened when a majority of BOTH parties wanted to impeach Nixon. Nothing happened until a majority of Republicans wanted to impeach their own president and even then, Nixon was never actually impeached. He resigned because he had some shame about what he had done and loyalty to his party. Trump has no shame nor loyalty to his party and Republicans know that if he falls, he will try to take as many people with him as possible. He has previously threatened to try to destroy the Republican Party if they oppose him. This is a dangerous situation for America. Our constitutional system is completely untested in its ability to remove a bad president who will use all his power to resist being replaced. And the president has incredible power in America. The president is the head of his party and controls the Justice Department, FBI, CIA, military, and the vast regulatory apparatus of the federal government from the IRS to the EPA to the Treasury.
That is why Democrats need to put the interests of the country in front of the interests of the Democratic Party and join forces with the few Republicans who are already calling for Pence for President in 2018.