Should it be easier to remove a US President from office?

Unlike in Parliamentary systems where often all that is needed to remove a government is a simple majority, removing a US President can only be done when the President is found guilty by the Senate of a crime for which the House of Representatives passed an Impeachment.

Only two US Presidents have ever been impeached, Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton 1998. Neither were convicted by the Senate and hence neither were removed from office.

It is of note that no attempted or successful impeachment of a US President  has ever been in relation to war crimes, although there were plenty of opportunities for that.

Over the years, there have been few meaningful debates over making the removal of a US President easier, but it is time to have that debate.

In any hotly contested election, there are always going to be a large number of people dissatisfied with the results. Asinine slogans like ‘not my president’ obscure a wider reality that, in close elections, democracy can often be divisive.

After admonishing post-election Trump protesters to ‘accept the result’ of the election, many of Trump’s strong supporters are deeply disappointed at his broken promises and foreign policy U-turns.

But few are calling for the US President’s removal, this would be an extremely difficult process in any case, but should it be?

Many states in the US offer citizen created initiatives or propositions on the ballot. I have long been a supporter of this kind of direct democracy.

In addition to allowing for Federal initiatives, it may also be time to adopt the ‘recall’ at a national level.

A recall is a direct democratic apparatus to remove an elected official from office due to widespread unpopularity. Corruption or criminality is not a prerequisite for recall. Unpopularity for any reason is sufficient.

If people are thoroughly dissatisfied with a President, a Federal Recall should be a legal option.

As it is, a recall is often more difficult than impeachment, which itself is difficult. Thus, arguments about US Presidents being recalled every other month simply does not follow any logical precedent.

A famous US recall was in the state of California when in 2003, a highly unpopular Governor Gray Davis was successfully recalled/kicked out of office and was replaced in a special election by former body builder and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

If the American people as a whole had this option, it would go a long way towards alleviating anxiety about having to live under an un-popular President.

It would rarely happen, but the existence of the option would be a comfort to many.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.

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