Opinion

How the US Can Get Rid of Its Trickster President

And why Canada should seize the chance to benefit from his madness.

By Crawford Kilian 29 Jan 2017 | TheTyee.ca

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

Give Donald Trump his due: No sooner have we “normalized” his latest appalling excess than he overshoots the new normal yet again. He begins to look like a “trickster” god, like Loki or Raven, who fools and torments us just because he can. And we keep falling for it.

His latest trick was the executive order he issued on Friday banning refugees from seven mostly Muslim countries, claiming he was protecting Americans from terrorism. The mostly Muslim countries whose citizens have launched real terrorist attacks on the U.S., like Saudi Arabia, were exempted from the ban. Coincidentally, Trump has business interests in those countries.

But the ban went chaotic almost at once. Citizens of the banned seven countries now living legally in the U.S., with green cards and jobs, were told they would be barred from re-entering the U.S. if they travelled abroad. Judges in several American cities issued injunctions against parts of the ban, but Homeland Security said it would continue to enforce the ban despite the court rulings. The Prime Minister’s Office said Canadian dual citizens were free to go to the U.S. and return. (It’s uncertain how many would do actually do so.) The uproar continued on Sunday.

And further still, the entire U.S. refugee admissions program was suspended for 120 days, including for Syrians — among those most in need of safety from persecution and death.

Normal politicians announce unwelcome news on Fridays because it will get lost in the weekend sports and shopping. But Trump is not a normal politician, and Americans are becoming less normal by the hour.

By Saturday, social media were erupting and protests were clogging major U.S. airports. The chaos quickly spread to airports around the world, where many U.S.-bound travellers with valid visas suddenly found themselves marooned.

Justin Trudeau responded with some passive-aggressive tweeting, recycling those lovely photos of him and last year’s first Syrian refugees, plus this welcome: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.”

His father, far more bloody-minded, would have tweeted Trump with a raised middle finger and a fuddle-duddle, but the effect will likely be the same. Trump’s new ambassador to the United Nations, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, warned the world Friday that the U.S. would be “taking names” of countries that didn’t “have our back.” Then-president George W. Bush phrased it differently in 2001 — “you’re with us or you’re against us” — but this was the same message.

Might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb

So Trudeau and Canada are going to be on Trump’s shit list, just below Mexico. Since we might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb, this looks like a golden opportunity to promote the Canadian brand by welcoming Muslims with U.S. green cards to new lives and jobs right here.

It could be a windfall equivalent to $150 oil, without the climate problems: we would gain tens of thousands of smart, talented people needing a home and a place to apply their skills. Not just scientists, but entrepreneurs, businesspeople and workers. They would throw themselves into work, like the Vietnamese boat people and Ugandan Ismailis of the 1970s and the ex-Yugoslavians of the 1990s. Far from taking jobs, they’d create jobs.

But we’ll have to move fast. If Trump wants to induce a brain drain out of America, other countries will seize the opportunity to gain not only the brains but the investments that will follow them.

Late Saturday, a federal judge suspended part of Trump’s executive order, preventing the deportation of those who arrived after in the hours after it had gone into effect. But they may well go into detention, and those stranded overseas are in limbo for the foreseeable future.

Riding a donkey to power

The immigration ban probably isn’t the last trick up Trump’s sleeve, but the abrupt and massive pushback must have been sobering to his opportunist retinue, if not to Trump himself. The retinue must now be thinking that they’re riding a donkey to power, not a winged horse. He may not get them there after all, and they’ve now tagged themselves as renegades from democracy and genuine enemies of the American people.

To stay in power, their best bet would be to seek support from the Republican majority in the House and Senate and enough Democrats to have Trump declared unable to perform the duties of president under Amendment 25 of the U.S. Constitution.

This isn’t the same as impeachment. The amendment deals with the succession of power in the event of a presidential vacancy, disability or inability to perform the duties of the office.

“Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President,” the constitutional amendment provides.

The use of the amendment in this way would be unprecedented, but its intent is clear and it has been considered, most recently in 1987 when staff became concerned about the capacity of then-president Ronald Reagan.

In other words, Vice-President Mike Pence could stage a constitutional coup, re-moving Trump from power on the grounds of sheer inability to perform his duties. It would be a hell of a crisis, far worse than Watergate and Nixon’s resignation. But it would enable the Republicans to cling to power for a time — maybe until the next congressional elections, or until President Pence triggered his own crisis.

In the meantime, a growing majority of Americans would be organizing against not just the Republicans but the Democrats who sided with them and seeking a major overhaul of the whole system. By the time the election of 2020 rolls around, we may see whole new parties, and very different candidates, running for office and — once elected — repairing the damage caused by just a week or two of a trickster president.  [Tyee]

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Get The Tyee in your inbox

LATEST STORIES

The Barometer

Do you agree that Vancouver needs a comprehensive plan for its waterfront?

Take this week's poll