The power structure in the United States has become somewhat of a mystery. I mean, who’s really in charge? The President? Congress? A shadow government pulling the strings like some marionette behind the scenes? Maybe it’s a combination of one or all of that. Who really knows?
The basic idea was simple. For the people, by the people. The three largest words on the Declaration of Independence are “We the People,” right? John Hancock’s curiously large, er, John Hancock notwithstanding. We were meant to elect representatives who would do our bidding by proxy, and thus, lead the country ourselves.
Somehow, through many years of backdoor deals and hero-worship, that’s not how it all turned out.
Currently, we elect politicians based on their personal belief systems, political stances, and broad, toothy smiles and hope that after the election, they will follow through on the promises they made in order to attain office. If they don’t, well, uh. Well, nothing really. Once they make it in, it’s very difficult to extract them again.
Politicians like Nancy Pelosi, despite her track record, just keep winning. I suppose people just vote for them because of name recognition. Perhaps people are just lazy. Perhaps maintaining the status quo is comforting. You know, “The Devil you know…” and all. I’d hate to think there was anything nefarious going on, but I suppose we can’t rule that out either. Just ask President Trump how confident he is in fair elections these days. I’m sure he has an opinion.
Sure, there are some mechanisms in place to recall certain officials, just ask Gavin Newsome. The problem is, there is no regularly used mechanism for the areas of government that need it the most. Areas like Congress, the House of Representatives, or the Presidency.
Now, there are provisions in place. Congress, for example, could expel a member with a ⅔ vote. Something that would require cooperation, which, well, honestly, is highly unlikely. That’s not to say it hasn’t happened, but, in recent times, short of a bribery or racketeering charge, your chances are pretty good that you’ll serve your full term.
The House of Representatives has a similar provision. Also requiring a ⅔ vote, the provision is used extremely rarely. Where the members of Congress have seen around 20 expulsions, the House has seen about a quarter of that number sent packing. Once again, short of bribery and racketeering, there’s a good chance you’ll serve the full term.
The Presidency, as we all know, is a different animal altogether. Impeachments happen. Sometimes for just cause, looking in your direction, Mr. Clinton. Sometimes for political gain, looking in your direction, Mr. Trump. Sometimes, just to attempt to ensure a candidate is ineligible for reelection. Still looking your way, Mr. Trump.
However, even with these provisions in place, removing a politician who lied to our faces, attained office, and then broke every promise ever made, is a difficult proposition. Once entrenched, not only is it likely that they will finish their term, it’s also very likely that they will somehow get reelected when that term is over.
Up until now, this discussion has been limited to typical political lies. Lower taxes, free healthcare, etc. Now, what if we were to switch gears to someone who wants to change the foundation of our country? What if, once elected, our elected officials decided to abolish the right to free speech? What if, after taking office, that person was to publicly state, for instance, that no amendment is absolute?
What recourse do Americans have if a President openly states his intent to infringe on the rights guaranteed by the founding fathers?
None. Nope. Nothing. We have no recourse whatsoever, short of waiting out the term and voting them out of office. Again, I would point you to President Trump for verification of the validity of our elections in their current form.
Worse than that, is the fact that, if we were able to remove a President for violating the contract made with the American people, the mechanisms in place to name a successor would only give us his hand-picked puppet. If we remove Biden, for instance, we’re stuck with Harris. This could end up being the proverbial frying pan/fire argument.
So, again, I ask you, who runs this country? Once we elect an official, it appears they’re in charge. They have no real reason to represent anything other than their own self-interests and reelection. The founding fathers, for all their wisdom, never saw this coming. That’s probably because they never imagined anything other than free and fair elections. They assumed Americans would never tolerate something like that.