February 19, 2017 | By Karol Markowicz
Last week, cable news personality Sally Kohn tweeted what she called a “straightforward” plan that would eject Donald Trump and install Hillary Clinton into the presidency: “1. Impeach Trump Pence; 2. Constitutional crisis; 3. Call special election; 4. Ryan v Clinton; 5. President Clinton.”
Anyone with middle-school knowledge of the presidential chain of command should know that impeaching both Trump and his vice president would not, actually, lead to a “constitutional crisis” or a “special election.” It would lead directly, do not pass go, do not collect $200, to President Paul Ryan. Whom Clinton would be welcome to challenge in the next election.
Kohn is far from alone in broadcasting her ignorance of the political process. Our so-called “elite” seems to be in desperate need of a remedial civics class.
Twitter is filled with Democrats begging their elected representatives to filibuster Trump’s nominees.
Actor George Takei, who has become a prominent liberal activist, tweeted, “Dear Democrats: You had better be prepared to filibuster folks like Mattis, Flynn and Sessions. We are counting on you to hold your ground.” Perhaps Takei is unaware that former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “nuked” the filibuster for most of the president’s nominees. Presumably imagining the Democrats would never again be out of power, Reid did away with the rule that required 60 votes for federal judicial nominees and executive-office appointments.
Last Monday, when national security adviser Michael Flynn tendered his resignation, the smugness reached worrying — but also unintentionally humorous — levels. A first scalp from the Trump administration in their hands, many were eager to tie as many Republicans as possible to Flynn’s collapse.
Actress Justine Bateman tweeted, “All the Republican Senators who confirmed Flynn must feel pretty comfortable right now. Excellent homework, Senators.” Novelist and teacher Mark Sarvas tweeted, “Let us pause to consider the utterly amoral GOP senators who confirmed Flynn. Go look up ‘advise’ when you have a second.”
Sick burn, guys. Except, of course, for the fact that Flynn’s position doesn’t require Senate confirmation.
Following Flynn’s resignation, Michael Moore took to Facebook to accuse President Trump of somehow rigging the election with the help of the Russians and demanded that both Trump and Pence resign. Running into the same “President Ryan” trap as Kohn, Moore then demanded that “the court” (presumably the US Supreme Court) “has to rule either that the president is the winner of the popular vote OR the election must be held over.”
Even if Moore’s outlandish accusations were true, there is no “do-over” in American presidential elections (this isn’t touch football at recess), and there is no such thing as a national popular vote.
Everyone makes mistakes, of course. The bigger problem with this widespread lack of knowledge is that it leads to scary places. Is Kohn really that blasé about a “constitutional crisis”? Does Moore really not care that our entire political system would be in jeopardy if “the court” did what he asked?
Are people really willing to throw away the American political framework because a candidate they don’t like won an election?
I didn’t vote for Trump, but for all the concern that Trump is going to destroy America, the lack of faith and lack of support for our extremely successful democracy is what’s most worrisome. Thanks to the separation of powers, Trump can only do so much (shout-out to my second-grade teacher, Ms. Benson).
When comedian Sarah Silverman daydreamed on Twitter, “ONCE THE MILITARY IS W US FASCISTS GET OVERTHROWN. MAD KING & HIS HANDLERS GO BYE BYE,” does she understand that she’s calling for a banana republic-style military coup in a constitutional democracy?
Writing in New York magazine last week, the always-excitable Andrew Sullivan noted that we have become “less free” because Trump has become such an all-encompassing obsession for many people. But perhaps Trump shouldn’t be an all-encompassing obsession — you can feel free to take occasional breaks from politics, and in fact much of the country does. It’s easy for political journalists to fall into the trap of assuming everyone’s as obsessed with every word the president utters as you are.
Yet neither should you ignore politics altogether. You’ll notice an uptick in your faith in America if you pay attention to how much we’ve survived.
And then you can hopefully give Sally Kohn & Co. a few history lessons.