ViewPoint | When removing the president is not enough

Congress can remove a president, though it has never done so, it cannot remove the administration that a cognitively impaired president installed.

Less than a year into the Biden presidency the electorate’s remorse is palpable. The president’s approval rating has fallen from 57% to 38%, the largest decline for a first-year president since World War II. The vice-president fares even worse with a historically low approval rating of 28%. Seventy-one percent of the American people now believe the country is on the wrong track. Mr. Biden’s oft-repeated campaign promise of serving as a moderate president was dead on arrival. It is clear that he is neither physically nor intellectually capable of holding the line against the progressives that have seized control of his administration.

That the president’s judgement is suspect is not a debatable proposition. His "open-borders" policy is hugely unpopular and presumptively unconstitutional under Article IV, Section 4 that protects the states "against invasion." The administration has effectively ceded control of the southern border to the Mexican cartels.

The litany of disastrous policy decisions by this administration defies comprehension.

These include an ill-fated retreat from Afghanistan that left hundreds of Americans stranded and thirteen military service personnel dead, a proposal to eliminate cash bail to promote gender-equity, shutting down domestic pipelines while pleading with OPEC to increase oil supplies, propagating the highest inflation in almost four decades, and consideration of reparations payments of up to $450,000 per family member separated upon illegally crossing the southern border.

By comparison, the families of U.S. military service personnel killed in action receive only $100,000. The president ordered vaccine mandates that have effectively ended the careers of military personnel while placing the livelihoods of countless Americans in jeopardy. The courts may be the only hope for restoring rationality.

We have lost credibility on the world stage. Our allies no longer trust us and our adversaries no longer fear us. This is what an existential threat looks like.

The president can be removed from office upon impeachment by the House and conviction by the Senate under Article I, Sections 2 and 3 of the Constitution. In Federalist 65, Alexander Hamilton admonished that the problem with impeachment is that it is more political than judicious. "[T]here will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt." Mr. Hamilton was prescient. History confirms that an act by the president may be impeachable when the other political party controls both houses of Congress, but not otherwise.

The problem is that while the Congress can remove a president, though it has never done so, it cannot remove the administration that a cognitively impaired president installed. An implicit assumption in the Constitution is that the president is sufficiently competent to choose a vice-president and cabinet secretaries capable of governing in his absence. If this is not the case, the removal of the president would fall short of restoring competent governance to the executive branch.

An alternative that merits serious consideration is a constitutional amendment (or supplement to the 25th amendment) that would collectively remove the president, the vice-president and the cabinet with a vote of no confidence. The process is similar to that in a parliamentary system except that it would be decided by the electorate rather than legislators. A stipulated percentage of eligible voters would sign a petition in support of the vote of no confidence. The threshold number of signatures would be set at a high level out of deference to the office and recognition that this option should be reserved for only the most egregious cases of administration ineptitude. Once the threshold is reached and the signatures authenticated a new election would be held.

Lest this proposal be dismissed as too extreme, that removing the president would suffice, we need only consider the country’s prospects over the next 3 years under the leadership of President Kamala Harris.

Quod Erat Demonstradum.

Dr. Weisman is Professor of Economics Emeritus at Kansas State University. He has been published in Yale Journal on Regulation Bulletin, The Electricity Journal, International Review of Economics Education, and Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. His research has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.