The Absentee President
To say President Trump has checked out since he lost the 2020 election is an understatement. Since the final tallies were completed, and it was clear Trump lost the election (at least in everyone’s mind but his own), he has failed to carry out his responsibilities as President of the U.S. His actions in contesting the election led up to the insurrection we saw last Wednesday at the Capitol building, the day Congress certified the election results.
Trump stoked the fires of violent dissent by telling rioters "I love you," and that "you're very special people" as they wreaked havoc - purposefully interrupting a joint session of Congress that convened to certify President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the presidential election.
In his final days Trump became more isolated and unpredictable. Staff were trying to avoid him; advisors abandoned him; staff and cabinet members resigned; and Trump himself failed miserably in his leadership responsibilities.
Consider the following as well:
- He’s spent countless hours and wasted millions of dollars using legal challenges to overturn the election results. Who is paying for this anyway?
- He’s shown a remarkable disinterest in making sure coronavirus vaccines get administered sooner rather than later.
- He’s pardoned questionable characters and seems ready to do some more.
As pointed out by the NY Times, “Trump has been moody and by accounts of his advisors sometimes depressed, the president barely shows up to work, ignoring the health and economic crises afflicting the nation and largely clearing his public schedule of meetings unrelated to his desperate bid to rewrite the election results. He has fixated on rewarding friends, purging the disloyal and punishing a growing list of perceived enemies that now includes Republican governors, his own attorney general and even Fox News.”
Loyalty to the Leader
Trump’s greatest supporter during the last four years has been Vice President Pence. To say he’s been 100 percent loyal to Trump is an understatement. What did he get for his troubles? Trump excoriated him for his refusal to illegally intervene to prevent Congress from certifying the results for the presidential election that Trump lost. “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution,” Trump tweeted in a post that Twitter removed Wednesday evening. Let’s face it, being loyal to Trump means to buy into his words and actions at all times and fully. Loyalty to Trump is a one-way street.
Moody and by accounts of his advisors sometimes depressed, the president barely shows up to work, ignoring the health and economic crises afflicting the nation and largely clearing his public schedule of meetings unrelated to his desperate bid to rewrite the election results.
Twitter suspended his account for fear that Trump would continue to incite violence on his way out the door. Twitter’s move restricted the immediate harm that Trump could cause through the social platform. Even when Trump was cut off, he tried again, first through @POTUS, and then again, through @TeamTrump, to force his message onto the platform, where the @realDonaldTrump account had 88 million followers.
The ironic thing is Trump has labeled so many people losers, including former Senator and astronaut John McCain. Now, the tables have turned and he is a loser. This gnaws at Trump and motivates his awful behavior.
Consequences of Actions (or Inactions)
Do all Trump’s failings warrant removing him from office under the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? Yes it does but to do so may have unintended consequences including inciting more violent riots. Should Nancy Pelosi go forward in the House of Representatives and introduce a bill to impeach Trump? No, because such an action would be motivated by revenge and not to do what’s in the best interest of the American people.
There is another option: Either house, could, with a majority vote, formally censure Trump, something that has not happened to any chief executive since the Senate censured Andrew Jackson in 1834. While this would be dismissed in some quarters as merely a symbolic act, it would be a historic rebuke of the Trump presidency. Unlike impeachment, a presidential censure has no specific constitutional authorization. Censuring Trump sends a strong message that Presidential power is not unlimited and actions have consequences.
My final message is karma. What goes around, comes around. In Hinduism and Buddhism, Karma refers to the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences. This will be played out when Trump finds it difficult to find someone or some group to buy the rights to link Trump’s name with a particular product or service, and: Who will trust Trump enough to do business with him after he leaves office? And then there is the possibility that Trump will be indicted over his actions such as income tax evasion. Alas, a Presidential pardon cannot be used to pardon future behavior that may or may not happen.
In the spirit of the New Year, I am giving away signed copies of my book to the first ten people who contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and provide a mailing address. May your 2021 be better than 2020. Let's face it, it can't be worse!
Posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on January 11, 2021. You can sign up for his newsletter and learn more about his activities at: https://www.stevenmintzethics.com/. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/StevenMintzEthics and on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ethicssage.