System Failure: USA, Jan 6th 2021

Several issues related the events of this day highlight system failures for either the US, or in some cases, the entire globe ( I will update this page over the next few days).

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: Protesters gather outside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation’s capital during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
  • Recap
  • 25th Amendment: Fail
  • Impeachment?
  • Social Medial: Fail
  • Blame Protesters: Fail
  • Biden Response: Fail
  • Romney: Not a Fail

Recap

On Jan 6th, a joint sitting of the US congress and senate met to confirm the electoral college vote count. This is a procedure designed to verify the submissions received from each state are a true record of the votes from that state. The procedure follows electrons such as in 1877 when multiple submissions from some states were received making it unclear which submission was the correct official submission.

. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

Earlier in the Day, Donald Trump had organised a rally outside the Whitehouse and instructed supporters to march down to the capitol building and alternatively “fight like hell” or “protest peacefully”, leaving supporters to choose which of those two instructions he meant.

And we fight. We fight like Hell and if you don’t fight like Hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.

Our exciting adventures and boldest endeavors have not yet begun. My fellow Americans for our movement, for our children and for our beloved country and I say this, despite all that’s happened, the best is yet to come.

So we’re going to, we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, I love Pennsylvania Avenue, and we’re going to the Capitol and we’re going to try and give… The Democrats are hopeless. They’re never voting for anything, not even one vote. But we’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones, because the strong ones don’t need any of our help, we’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.

Donald Trump Speech “Save America” Rally Transcript January 6

At least some supports seemed to heed the “fight like Hell” part.

25th Amendment: Fail.

A partisan call?

In partisan America, those on one side interpret the 25th amendment provisions for when the president is unable to govern as being relevant. Sitting in the middle, I cannot see it that way. The actions of Jan 6th may suggest that Trump is unfit for the role, or unwilling to properly perform the role, but nothing has changed in terms of his being able to govern.

What is the 25th amendment?

The amendment overall is intended to provide a line of succession and answer the question of ‘who takes over, and when’. The amendment was introduced, July 6th 1965, within two years after the assignation of President Kennedy, to address lack of clarity of succession at that time, especially as there was confusion as to whether the vice President was also injured at the same time. Note that Kennedy did not die immediately, and there was a short period of time when the president was still alive, but clearly unable to govern, then there was a delay in announcing the death while a new president was sworn in, to avoid the US officially having no president. The amendment has 4 sections:

  1. what happens if the president dies (vice president takes over)
  2. what happens if vice president cannot take over
  3. allows for president to step down temporarily prior to a period of inability to govern (e.g. major surgery)
  4. allows for cases where president did not step down prior to period of inability to govern

The goal of the amendment is to ensure there is always a clear president. What if a president was shot and spent months in a coma? All of these had to be considered in the wake of events just two years earlier.

The 25th amendment tries to address such cases, with sections 3 and 4 addressing cases when the president is unable to govern. The complication of section 4, is covering cases where the president themselves is unable to declare there need to stand aside.

The amendment does explain what constitutes inability, but it seems more likely that it was intended to relate to health rather than character flaws. While it could be argued that Trump’s mental health makes him medically unfit, no one seems to be soliciting expert opinion to support such an argument. The author of the amendment did write in a book:

“if the President was as nutty as a fruit cake. Mental illness, pure and simple, is the only time this provision would be used.”

national geographic

However, the ‘only’ time seems out of context, as if the president had a stroke and went into a coma, clearly this provision would be needed. It seems more likely the quote was a reply to a question about a president who is physically capable, but still questionably ‘able’. Being ‘nutty as a fruitcake’ is not a very scientific answer, and it would seem the quote is more a dismissal of the idea rather than an attempt to define an actual point of using the amendment.

In summary, I suggest trying to invoke the 25th amendment is the result of bias partisan view, and Pence is probably correct in holding back unless there is further evidence of mental illness. Fail.

The 25th Amendment is not a ‘motion of no confidence’.

Nothing in this amendment suggest a process for declaring ‘no-confidence’ in the president. The lack of a ‘motion of no confidence‘, may be seen as a fail of the US system, but the 25th amendment does not appear to have been an attempt to create one. When the leader of the elected government loses a vote of no confidence, the normal response is that an election must be held for a new government.

Impeachment.

Trump has already been impeached, this does not remove him from office. Following impeachment, through a second process, the senate can then vote on removal. It does appear certain that Donald Trump will again be impeached, and perhaps this time he will then be removed, but contrary to what may be expected, impeachment does not mean removal from office.

Several other false claims circulate about impeachment:

  1. loses his 200k+ pension for the rest of his life: Untrue
  2. loses his 1 million dollar/year travel allowance: Untrue, but see 3
  3. loses lifetime full secret service detail: Untrue, ex-presidents only get 2 or 3 anyway, not both
  4. loses his ability to run in 2024: Untrue

Impeachment without the additional step of removal by the senate would do not of those four, and even with removal by the senate, a third step by the senate is required to ban Trump from running in 2024.

Impeachment, which only requires a majority of congress, seems inevitable.

Removal, which requires a 2/3 majority of the senate and would be unprecedented, is surprisingly possible. One in 3 republican senators would be needed in addition to all democrats. (1/3 of republicans is 1/6 senators, and democrats are 1/2 of senators, 1/6 + 1/2 = 2/3). The 1/3 of republicans could be reached because many Republicans would like to be rid of Trump and get the old party back, but the process would take months as the getting the senate to sit before inauguration seems to require support by 100% senators, and that is less likely. After the inauguration there is new business to complete before considering removal an ex-president.

By the time Trump can be ‘removed’, Trump would almost certainly be already be an ex-president.

The last step, preventing again holding office, is a simpler vote, but a less clear path legally as it has never been applied to a president and was not designed around the office of president.

Social Media: Fail

Social media have banned Trump, and were probably correct in doing so. But several problems exist:

  • should social media companies themselves should be ‘arbiters of truth’, and if so, what are the rules?
  • should social media be able to censor rightfully elected heads of government?
  • how did we get to the point where we need social media companies to ban key people?
  • how can we be at the point where the social media messages from a elected president can be so damaging?

The lack of a clear solution to these questions may be the biggest failure of all.

Blame Protesters: Fail

During the American Revolution, he led the colonial forces to victory over the British and became a national hero.

History: George Washington

Sedition and inciting revolution against a government you believe is unjust can make you a national hero. The very reason the USA has the ‘right to bear arms’, is to enable them to rise up against an unjust governement.

What happens when the elected president tells citizens to rise up and fight? Who determines the truth? Trump possibly sees himself as another George Washington, but this time, as most of the nation do not agree, it is clear to most that Trump is not another George Washington seeking to overthrow rules that need to be overthrown. However, many of Trumps supporters in a world so many conflicting truths may not know any better. Who is to blame? Trump or Supporters? Or a system that overall did not stop Trump?

Were there not warning signs long before this?

President Donald Trump slammed the NFL’s rule changes that were implemented to reduce head injuries and called on team owners to fire players who kneel during the national anthem as an act of protest.

Time

To a cheering crowd, Trump said: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b*tch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!'”

‘Trump USA’ and Black Lives Matter Supporters

Biden Response: Fail

Biden response has not sought to bring America together, but rather, appease those outraged. Wrong path.

Almost half of the US population appears to mistakenly believe the claim that there was ‘massive fraud’ in the last election, and sufficient to change the outcome. There are simply too many Americans who feel the rioters had a valid grievance to simply decide ‘they are bad people’. Uniting America requires looking for a path to bring these people back under the fold, not simply declaring they are wrong.

Romney: Non-Fail

This is another point for me to return to. Perhaps Romney took a gamble that one day people would realise the Trump emperor had no clothes and he would just act in the manner that would look best when that day comes. Or, alternatively, he had just been a shinning light ignoring the extremist partisan ways.

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