A line too far, Mr. President

See Disclaimer. This article is part of the ‘Letters to an unfit president‘ series.

Mr. President:

When you first became a presidential candidate, and, eventually, the Republican nominee, I had no doubt that you were wrong for the country. When you won, it was deeply unsettling. But I gave you the benefit of the doubt. Would you grow to understand, respect and fairly discharge the responsibility given you?

The answer, predictably, is a resounding ‘No.’ You have plunged this country into a nightmare. The country and the world are far less fair, hopeful, secure, and sustainable than at any point in my living memory.

You opened the proverbial Pandora’s box, unleashing ‘great and unexpected troubles.’ Historians will debate what combination of ego, greed, dishonesty, incompetence, insecurity and folly guided you. But what matters most, today, is how we cope with the devastation you fostered. How we prevent further damage. How we restore hope.

We do that, Sir, by being clear eyed on the problem, and strategic on the solution.

The problem is us, the American People. We lost track of the vision of a government for and by the People. When you were elected, a mere 58% of eligible voters chose to vote. That’s 97 million Americans who did not vote. Thanks to the mathematics of the Electoral College, it took only 63 million to elect you, even if 66 million voted for your vastly more qualified opponent.

These numbers tell us much about ourselves. They show that too many of us no longer feel empowered to steer our fate. That too many Americans feel disenfranchised, stopped caring, or lost hope. That too of us no longer think critically, and are letting others—from parties and religious or interest groups, to even conspiracy theorists or foreign governments—dictate their choices. That we compromised our sense of right and wrong, of fact and fabrication.

Given this context, a solution is not easy. But it all starts by recognizing that we cannot heal and regrow as a nation with you in the presidency. Because lying and deceiving is in your nature. You cannot resist it. Facts simply do not exist for you, short of being a vague inconvenience requiring you to make up the next lie.

You should resign. But you don’t have the personal courage to face the devastating facts of your presidency—or the humility to recognize how unfit you are for the job. And Republican Senators don’t have the courage to leave you no option, daring not emulate the senior Republicans who convinced President Nixon to step down.

You might be declared incapacitated, as per the 25th Amendment. Given the ambiguity of the Amendment’s language, though, it would be controversial. It would be unprecedented. It might even be unwise as an historical precedent. Even if none of these applied, the Vice President, the Cabinet and Congress would not have the moral fortitude or majority to invoke the Amendment. And there are better ways.

You should be impeached by the House, and found guilty by the Senate. The challenge should only be to choose which, among your many transgressions, would form the basis for the Articles of Impeachment. But, you made that choice easier, by arrogantly crossing a line too far in your attacks on our democratic election system. You did not defend our electoral system even when it became clear that Russia had and was continuing to attack its integrity. But you are now openly and directly attacking the system yourself, in a desperate and misguided attempt to remain in power.

Yet, Democrats in the House will hesitate to start new impeachment proceedings against you, so close to the election, particularly without the support of Republicans in the Senate. And Senate Republicans would, once again, lack the moral compass to found the president guilty, even if you were deservedly impeached a second time.

That leaves us, the American voters, a simple option: Vote you out in November.

We must do so overwhelmingly. Emphatically. We must elect your opponent, Joe Biden, by an uncontestable historical landslide. We must give him the benefit of majorities in both houses of Congress. We must give him a mandate to do what he is best at: Build consensus, this time with the very soul of our country at stake.

Not even Joe can solve our present and historical equity issues with the fullness and expediency that they might deserve. He has no magical wand to wave away all the ‘great and unexpected troubles’ you unleashed from the Pandora’s box. But he is a patriot, and, unlike you, he understands the presidency as public service. Unlike you, he will aim to bring all of us together, rather than dividing us. He will look at the whole nation, not into a mirror, to collaboratively decide what the best course of action is to address national crises, from COVID-19 to the economy and social justice.

And if and when Joe does win, you will have a choice: To honor the wishes of the American People by willingly and peacefully transitioning power, or to face fair and appropriate legal consequences. Because, in spite of you, we still are a country of laws, and a democratic republic at heart. And we will so remain, even after your nightmarish presidency fades away from memory.

— Antonio Baptista

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