Americans Should Want Trump to Remain President

The Constitution specifies that should a President leave office before the end of the term, the Vice President becomes President and names a new Vice President with the consent of Congress.

Americans need to know Vice President Pence

Vice President Pence is that gray-haired, quiet shadow seen frequently lurking behind Donald Trump. To some, he epitomizes a long standing joke about Vice Presidents.

A woman had two sons. One became a merchant marine. The other became vice President. Neither were ever heard of again.

Pence maintains the image of a rare stable member of a an extremely unstable administration — the uncontroversial second to an extremely controversial Trump. He has given the impression of the incorruptible individual in the midst of the most corrupt administration in American history.

But as Vice President he has faithfully followed the direction of Trump. He follows every Trumpish wish. He breaks ties in the Senate toward the extreme right. In this way he secures for himself the loyalty of Trump’s base. What would he be like if he came out from Trump’s shadow and was President?

The evidence from his time as governor of Indiana is that he would be consistently as far right as Trump is erratically. He would have the solid support of the base and the Freedom Caucus in the Congress. Unlike Trump, Pence has served in Congress, knows how it works and has personal connections with Republican members of Congress. There is every indication that the far right would very much like to see him, rather than Trump, in the White House — preferably after noon January 20.

Next year?

Under the Constitution, if Trump were to resign, be removed from office or die after noon January 20, 2019, Pence would become President of the United States and able to serve out the remainder of Trump’s term of office. Pence would be President in 2020, eligible to run as the incumbent President in that year and, if elected, again in 2024. In other words, the far right Republican Party could control the White House for twelve years, ten of which would be by President Pence.

The advocates of impeachment seem to have visions that Pence could be impeached at the same time as Trump. That seems unlikely to me. So far there is little evidence of Pence being involved in “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Purely partisan attempts at impeachment — Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton — have not fared well in the Senate.

Can Democrats successfully remove Trump?

I rather doubt this. Even if both the House and Senate in the 116th Congress are controlled by the Democratic Party, there are several things that could happen along the way.

  • The Democratic majority of the Judicial Committee could draft articles of impeachment which, for some reason failed to get a majority vote in the House. In this case Trump is vindicated.
  • The House could vote articles of impeachment, but the Senate would fail to convict — which takes 67 votes. That is mathematically impossible if the vote is on party lines. In this case also, Trump is vindicated.
  • The House could impeach and the Senate convict. In this case Pence becomes President.

A President Pence would undoubtedly veto any measure coming from the Congress attempting to roll back the damage done by Republicans under Trump and the Republican 115th Congress.

What should Democrats do?

I think the priority should be to win a majority in the Senate. With the necessary votes, they will hold all committee chairs and the majority in every committee. They can block nominations coming from the White House. They can give Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley a dose of their own — not holding hearings and confirmation votes on judges, including to the Supreme Court. They can block any Republican nonsense coming from either the Senate or House. They can pass legislation advancing voting rights, immigration reform, jobs, etc., even if these don’t become law. The would, however, be campaign issue Democrats could use in 2020. But remember, gaining a majority in the Senate will be extremely difficult. Of the 34 Senate seats on the ballot this fall, only eight are held by Republicans.

Flipping the House is more likely. Democrats should try to win as many as possible. The House can block any Republican nonsense coming from the White House, the Senate or the Freedom Caucus in the House.  A Democratic House can also enact a legislative program in the House similar to the one I suggest for the Senate. Enact laws that can be used to win an overwhelming public support in 2020, even if those are vetoed by the Republican President.

We Must Win the Senate!

Six months from today we will be learning the results of the 2018 midterm elections. This is one of the most important elections in my lifetime. The future of the Republic hangs in the balance.

Why we must win a majority in the Senate.

The Senate has three powers that the House does not have:
1. To confirm or not the President’s appointments to the judicial and executive branch,
2. To ratify or not treaties and
3. To convict or not on impeachment, conviction requiring a 2/3rds majority.
In addition, the Senate can block measures coming from the House of representatives.

Trump is currently appointing scores of young, far right, incompetent white males (rarely women) to the federal judiciary at the district and appellate levels, including the Supreme Court. These are lifetime appointments. Judges can only be removed by impeachment and conviction. He is also appointing singularly unqualified, corrupt individuals to executive positions. The only way to stop this is for Democrats to win a majority in the Senate.

Party does matter.

There are votes in the Senate which are always along party lines, even if there are party members who often vote with the opposition. The first such vote determines which party’s leader is the Senate majority leader. The Senate majority leader names the chairs of Senate committees and a majority of each committee’s membership. The Senate majority leader also determines what will come to the floor for debate and vote. In the past four years we have seen in the past four years what this means when Mitch McConnell has been the majority leader. He blocked confirmation of Judge Garland to the Supreme Court, giving us Gorsuch instead. He has blocked scores of Obama’s lower court appointments, which are now being filled with inappropriate appointments by Trump.

Arithmetic matters.

There are 100 Senators, a majority being 51. If both parties have 50 Senators, Vice President Pence, a right-wing, evangelical Republican, casts the deciding vote to break the tie. Currently there are 51 Republicans, 47 Democrats and 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats.

On November 6, 2018 – less than six months from today, we will elect 34 Senators. 24 of those seats are currently held by Democrats, 2 by Independents and 8 by Republicans. To win a majority Democrats must hold all 24 seats held by Democrats, the two seats held by Independents and flip 2 or more seats currently held by Republicans. For every one of the 26 seats held by Democrats or Independents that the Republicans flip, Democrats must flip a Republican seat. That is a big challenge, as several of those Democratic Senators are from states that Trump carried in 2016.

Moral of this situation.
Democrats must focus on the 2018 midterm election. We do not have the luxury of speculation on the 2020 elections or rehashing the 2016 election. We do not enjoy the luxury of ideological purity. We do not enjoy the luxury of internecine bickering and division. UNITED WE STAND; DIVIDED WE FALL. And the Republic stands or falls with us.

Copyright © 2018 Kenneth Peck