Presidential History

Removing Bad Presidents From Office Should Be Easier

Monica Lewinsky's reemergence is a reminder that our presidential safety valve is broken.

|

"Don't stop thinking about tomorrow," commands the relentlessly chirpy Fleetwood Mac tune that served as Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign theme.

But last week, in an exclusive article for Vanity Fair, "that woman," Monica Lewinsky, forced Bill, Hill and the rest of us to take a look back.

Lewinsky, now 40, is someone who definitely didn't "love the '90s." "The Clinton administration, the special prosecutor's minions, the political operatives on both sides of the aisle" and the emerging new media turned Lewinsky's youthful indiscretion into a life-wrecking mistake, making her the permanent punchline to a dirty joke.

It seemed like great fun at the time, I'm embarrassed now to admit, digging through the Starr Report and cackling over the naughtiest footnotes. With the benefit of 15 years of mature hindsight, what should we make of the Clinton impeachment imbroglio?

Clinton figured out what he thinks long ago: he's the hero of this sordid little drama. "I am proud of what we did [on impeachment]" he proclaimed in April 2000: "I think we saved the Constitution of the United States."

To borrow George Will's signature line: Well.

Clinton saved something, alright, but the national charter isn't the first thing that comes to mind. Still, there is a constitutional lesson we can draw from the Clinton impeachment: Our system makes it far too hard to remove a president.

In an important new book, The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Government in America, legal scholar F.H. Buckley argues that our presidential system of government lacks important "safety valves" present in parliamentary regimes. The president's fixed term makes it nearly impossible to remove him. We manage fewer than one presidential impeachment per century, and in 225 years, the Senate has never successfully removed one. In contrast, "prime ministers may be removed at any time when Parliament is in session through a nonconfidence motion"; weak leaders can even be dumped by their own party without bringing down the government.

"Impeachment, observed Jefferson in his old age, was not even a scarecrow," Buckley writes; if anything it's an even weaker check today.

In the view of the impeachment clause that currently dominates the legal academy, there's essentially no way to remove a president for misbehavior, neglect or incompetence. During the Clinton imbroglio, scads of concerned law professors dutifully advanced an interpretation of "high Crimes and Misdemeanors" lenient enough to let Bill skate. They drew a line between "public" and "private": Abuse and corruption related to the exercise of presidential power are impeachable; private misdeeds (like perjury and obstruction of justice to cover up an affair) are not. The always-reliable Cass Sunstein provided the unintentional reductio ad absurdum to this line of reasoning, arguing in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review that if the president were to up and "murder someone simply because he does not like him," it would make for a "hard case."

But as law professor Sanford Levinson puts it, "Why in the world should 'We the People' not be able to break the lease and evict a manifestly unsuitable or incompetent president and replace him with someone presumably more able?"

Levinson favors a constitutional amendment allowing a congressional "no confidence" vote and removal of the president. Adding that "safety valve" to the Constitution would be a longshot, to say the least.

But years ago, we went through a yearlong constitutional conniption because the Constitution makes it so absurdly difficult to dethrone a misbehaving executive. Given the vast powers the modern president wields, it ought to be easier to "throw the bum out."

This column originally appeared in the Washington Examiner. 

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

124 responses to “Removing Bad Presidents From Office Should Be Easier

  1. If it wasn’t for bad presidents, we’d have no presidents at all.

    1. Doom, Despair and Agony on me us.

    2. Fisty the eternal optimist.

    3. If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all…

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKY8KIt9kqc

  2. President Biden!

    1. Thanks a lot. I won’t need two cups of coffee to get the day jump-started now!

    2. Biden’s sole purpose: Anti-Impeachment insurance.

  3. Impeaching a President is invalidating an election. I am okay with that being hard to do. It causes a lot of hard feelings and causes people to feel betreyed and cheated by a government denying them their choice of President.

    What should, however, be easier and happen much more often is impeaching cabinet members. Cabinet members were not elected. This horseshit of a President telling the country to fuck off and leaving cabinet members like Janet Reno, Don Rumsfeld, Eric Holder and Sibelius just to name a few, who have made enormous fuck ups in office needs to stop. The President is only as powerful as the people who do his bidding. If you started routinely impeaching cabinet members, Presidents would have a much harder time lying and committing misconduct because their cabinets would no longer be so eager to enable them.

    1. Impeaching a President is invalidating an election.

      Technically not.

      Other than that — Well said.

      1. Technically not, but practically yes. Impeaching any President involves a tremendous amount of bad feelings and ill will on the part of the voters.

        Not that it shouldn’t ever happen. I am just okay with it rarely happening and being hard for it to happen. Cabinet members and judges, who have not won an election, should be routinely impeached.

        1. Another benefit to routine impeachment is that it keeps both impeachers and impeachees preoccupied and so less likely to cause more damage.

          1. Yeah. I am okay with the Senate spending its time trying various cretins in the judiciary and the executive.

        2. Impeaching any President involves a tremendous amount of bad feelings and ill will on the part of the voters.

          So does not impeaching a President who badly needs it.

          1. Sure. But you miss my point. The point is not that we should never impeach a President. My point is that we should rarely impeach a President and only do so when there is a really compelling reason and that is why I am okay with it being hard to impeach one.

            1. The point is not that we should never impeach a President. My point is that we should rarely impeach a President

              I would say that the current setup means we will never impeach (as in remove) a President. We never have in over 200 years, despite ample opportunity, so I see no reason to think we ever will.

              1. No we never have. I would argue that the public as a group has never really wanted a President out of office. The one time they probably did, Nixon resigned. I think Nixon resigning because he knew he would lose a trial in the Senate should count.

                Beyond that, I can’t think of a single instance other than Nixon where the public wasn’t deeply divided about what to do if anything about a President who committed misconduct. You are blaming the system when in fact you just don’t like it that the public is generally loath to remove a President from office.

                1. I can’t think of a recent President that the public wasn’t “deeply divided” about electing into office.

                  Not sure why a deeply divided public is fine for putting them in, but terrible for kicking them out. Getting into “one man, one vote, one time” territory here.

                  Of course, by design, its not the public’s decision. It’s Congress’s decision. Our profoundly dysfunctional Congress clearly isn’t up to the job under the current rules, so I say, why not change the rules?

                  1. Not sure why a deeply divided public is fine for putting them in, but terrible for kicking them out.

                    Because it is not majority rules even in putting them in. Beyond that, I don’t think other than Nixon you can find where even a majority of the country wanted it. It is not like Congress doesn’t like or won’t pander to public opinion.

                    You want to change the rules because you don’t like the results and how the public generally isn’t giving you what you want. That is really all there is to it. Get a President that a majority of the country wants removed today and not at the end of their term and this system will give you what you want.

                    And yes, it is harder to remove a President because the system is designed for stability and to resist the popular will. What you are wanting is a change in the entire system from a Republic to a direct democracy where the popular will can immediately enforce changes. I don’t think you are going to like how that works out.

                    1. What you are wanting is a change in the entire system from a Republic to a direct democracy where the popular will can immediately enforce changes.

                      Did you miss the part where I said:

                      “Of course, by design, its not the public’s decision. It’s Congress’s decision.”?

  4. Too subjective.

    Lying about a BJ or lying us into a $2 trillion war are not the same.

    1. You’re right – on was convicted of perjury, the other convicted in the minds of liberal morons.

      1. Only morons believe there were no WMD.

        1. True – if you consider farts WMD, there were plenty of them there, given their middle eastern diet.

      2. When was Clinton convicted of perjury? One would think libertarians would be capable of distinguishing an arraignment from a conviction. Maybe you are too busy making excuses for conservative to bother with the distinction.

    2. Perjury isn’t worthy of condemnation and/or disqualification from office?

      Especially when that perjury was a tool to obstruct a very serious accusation of sexual assault?

      Have you no moral consistency at all?

    3. Exactly. Hard to believe he mentioned Clinton in this and not GW or Nixon.

      I wouldn’t even compare Clinton’s sex to ONE dead soldier, let along the many millions affected by GW’s reign. Add in a couple trillion dollars….and you are talking good reason for having marched the guy out of the white house long before O took over.

  5. one – shit, I hate it when that happens. Reason, stop being prigs and give us an edit option.

  6. Why not recall at the federal level? For all officials, not just the president. Impeachment isn’t the same thing, as it is for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which implies some form of wrong doing, not merely incompetence.

    1. Very well. Enough votes of no confidence should have *some* effect.

      1. I don’t want a parliamentary system here, but we have similar structures at the state level, and most states have some kind of recall law.

    2. There is really only one office, the President. Setting up a recall election for the President would be a massive pain in the ass. Better, I think to let the Senate do it. We are supposed to be a Republic not a direct democracy after all.

      The real problem here is that the Congress has abrogated its duties and power. The Constitution gives the ultimate power to the Congress. Congress could, if it as a body chose to, impeach the President, VP and put the Speaker of the House in as President and impeach and have the speaker replace all nine justices of the Supreme Court.

      That power ought to make both the President and the Courts more than a little afraid of incurring the wrath of Congress. Sadly, Congress has become so partisan and filled with so many people who simply don’t give a shit about the institution they claim to serve, the courts and President know longer respect much less fear the Congress. And that is now how they system is supposed to work.

      1. If California can recall governors, why can’t the rest of the country recall presidents?

        1. Because California is not the US and the US is supposed to be a Democratic Republic. I don’t like inserting direct democracy into the federal system like that.

          1. The states with recall all have republican forms of government. Constitutions, divided branches, most of the rest.

            Recall could create some problems, but I’d rather have it than not have it. The threshold for getting a recall could be set fairly high, too. It’s not like the states with recall are recalling governors every week.

            We need more checks on federal power, and the current set-up is not working. At all.

            1. I think it would just make Congress weaker by further relieving them of their rightful responsibility. If you had recalls, Congress would never bother to try to impeach a President again since they could truthfully say if the public is upset about it, they can recall the President.

              I don’t want to go there. I am not ready to give up on Congress and by extension the entire system of checks and balances. I would rather get Congress to do its fucking job.

              1. No president has ever been removed from office by impeachment. It’s something like ten or fewer officials who have been removed in the entire history of the U.S.–that’s for all officials, not just the president.

                As I think we’re all abundantly aware, hundreds of officials, possibly more, should have been removed if the process were at all useful for getting rid of officials guilty of malfeasance.

                1. As I said above, I think Nixon counts since he resigned knowing he was likely to lose a Senate trial.

                  That said, if we spent the effort that it would take to get a recall amendment through on making Congress reassert itself, I think we could do more good. But perhaps I am just an optimist.

                  1. I see no grounds for being optimistic about anything limiting federal power. We’re losing on all fronts and have been for decades. “Wins” that get trumpeted here are more about us getting permission to do certain things, like ingest substances or perform various kinds of sex acts or kill fetuses, not about limiting federal power or recognizing that individual rights are fundamental and not to be carved up by some old alcoholic in a robe.

                  2. As I said above, I think Nixon counts since he resigned knowing he was likely to lose a Senate trial.

                    That’s because the Dems had a majority in the Senate and Nixon was a Republican. If the Republicans had held a majority, Nixon might have chanced it.

                2. Nixon would have been. Maybe that’s the level of mis/malfeasance the country would require to impeach a President.

                  1. Probably, but the truth is that impeachment proceedings are very rare. Far, far, far rarer than instances of malfeasance.

                    Pretty much any federal official can be impeached, too, which even more dramatically highlights how useless the process is. We’re talking something on the order of fifty-sixty impeachment hearings ever, with far fewer removals (some of those are resignations, ? la Nixon).

                  2. It’s arguable that the last two presidents have done far worse things than Nixon, yet no serious talk of impeachment proceedings.

                    1. Yeppers. Yet another check on power broken.

                  3. Maybe that’s the level of mis/malfeasance the country would require to impeach a President.

                    You gotta be kidding.

                    Obama has taken every abuse by Nixon, ramped it up to fucking 12, and impeachment isn’t even on the table.

                    Nixon only dreamed of siccing the IRS on his enemies. Obama actually did it.

                    Nixon was hung for an 18 minute gap. Obama completely disappeared for at least 8 hours while his ambassador was being butchered in Libya.

                    I could go on.

                    1. By my personal standards, I think the last few presidents definitely should’ve been impeached and removed, for sure, and probably a good number of their predecessors.

                      Look, we know that corruption, lies, and abuse of power aren’t some sort of rare occurrence. So why aren’t we removing officials by the handful?

                  4. Maybe that’s the level of mis/malfeasance the country would require to impeach a President.

                    Lying? I think the Clinton impeachment proves otherwise.

              2. I think it would just make Congress weaker by further relieving them of their rightful responsibility.

                I think Congress has already done that, thanks. Congress these days is a giant machine for avoiding responsibility.

        2. Right, look into their recall. It was financed by the richest man in Congress who has a crooked record (arson, insurance fraud suspected, etc.) – one Darrell Issa, who was the guy who actually wanted to be Gov.

          Then, instead, they picked a guy who screws his maid and sharpens a big knife sitting while being interview…who led the state into a complete fiscal disaster.

          Recall didn’t work out well for them.

      2. We are supposed to be a Republic not a direct democracy after all.

        Then do it electoral college style.

        Congress has abrogated its duties and powers because it’s easier to dole out the pork and blame the courts and bureaucracy for any problems. If Congress does its duty, incumbents might lose more.

      3. I say just shorten the president’s term to 2 years and make him much less powerful and influential. That’s probably about as likely to happen as a change in how presidents can be removed from office.

        I like how we have it in NH. Every state wide office is up for election every 2 years. The governor is fairly weak and there is a 2 year budget cycle.

      4. The real problem here is that the Congress has abrogated its duties and power.

        No, the real problem is that we have a bunch of dishonorable bastards who would rather serve their respective parties than the good of the republic. During the last impeachment the Senate vote went right down party lines. I suspect that is always going to happen – especially if the president is a Democrat.

  7. But- DEFERENCE!

    Also, professional courtesy; if you can remove a President for incompetence, where will it end?

    1. It won’t. Remove. . .with extreme prejudice.

    2. Ding ding ding. Prosecutors don’t go after cops; senators don’t go after presidents.

  8. If falsifying a resume is a dischargeable offense in the real world, why shouldn’t we be able to get rid of a President who is manifestly incapable of performing the duties required of him? Hew obviously lied about his qualifications.

    1. Yes. I forget which one, but one of the federalist papers addressed that issue as I remember. The impeachment power was created in part so that Congress could act if you ever had a dangerously crazy or incompetent President.

      I would also argue that the 25th Amendment covers that possibility as well. It states in part

      Section 4. 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.

      At some point in this mess, the VP and the cabinet need to step up and declare the Chocolate Nixon unfit for the job and give Biden a shot. I know that sounds like I am kidding but I am not. If the Dems really crash and burn in the midterms and things start to look grim, how fucking crazy will this guy get?

      1. This was seriously discussed during Clinton’s term, as I recall. That the Democrats would try to declare Clinton unable to discharge the duties of president because he was too deeply entwined in his legal problems, and as such Mr. Gore would become the leader of the free world.

        Wow… memory works in funny ways.

  9. Here’s the deal. Democracy is sacred. It’s The Will of The People.

    Impeachment suggests that democracy can result in mistakes.

    It’s kinda like how the solution to the consequences of shitty legislation is more legislation. Repeal suggests that legislators can make mistakes.

    The last thing government is going to do is entertain the suggestion that it can make mistakes.

  10. Shit-flinging monkey is here. Save some of that shit to rub on your little pecker when you’re rubbing one out.

    1. I like to think that this could refer to any one of us. *sniff*

      1. Speak for yourself!

        *picks flea out of fur, contemplates it, then eats it*

  11. Some sort of term limits are probably in order.

    1. Or, maybe, some kind of limited government.

      1. I like this too, but is sounds vaguely racist.

      2. I mean like, I would almost suggest some sort of limited set of enumerated powers. But again, smacks of racism.

      3. This will still eventually come back to the current topic when the government inevitably decides to delimit itself.

  12. Either Gene Healy has a crush on Joe Biden (which I doubt) or he believes the Democrats pretty much own the presidency (which is probably true). Learn to lose, dude! It’s called democracy!

    1. Learn how to lose and accept Presidential crimes.

      God you are a moron Vanneman.

    2. Alan’s understanding of political philosophy is one giant whooshing sound.

  13. What we need is an easily impeached and democratically elected Attorney General. If presidents or anyone else in government really engage in illegal behavior, then prosecute them and remove them from office. If the president is just a douche bag, then we’re stuck with the idiocy of the electorate. Or maybe not put so many eggs in this office’s basket in the first place.
    BTW, when I popped out of my mom’s womb (or her ass as my dad used to represent it) I didn’t sign any contract about a “democratic republic” whatever the hell magic nonsense that’s supposed to mean.

  14. Ah, Clinton, the man who called a period of headless US soldiers being dragged through Somalian streets daily as “peacetime.”

  15. Yes, we should definitely make impeachment easier, because as a country we are definitely mature and nonpartisan enough to use it wisely. Which is why we impeached a president over lying about sex but did nothing about one who lied the country into a bloody trillion-dollar quagmire. We are a beacon of justice.

    1. One of those lies was under oath, while the other was not.

      Not that I would ever expect you to comprehend a distinction like that.

      1. Which kind of validates my sarcasm about being a beacon of justice.

        1. Yeah, you’re right. We let a sitting president get away with perjury, which is a serious crime. Definitely not a beacon of justice.

          1. So what you’re saying is that lying under oath about a blowjob is objectively a worse act than lying to the world in order to start a 10-year war?

            1. Lying under oath is lying under oath, regardless of the subject matter.

              1. Of course, he was acquitted. In our very own system of how this shit works. Thus, he did nothing wrong.

                1. Tony probably believes that because OJ was acquitted, he was innocent as well.

                  You can be guilty as hell and be acquitted, and innocent as the newborn snow and be convicted.

                  Conviction and acquittal are not magic. They don’t go back in time to rearrange what actually happened to conform to the court paperwork.

              2. I suppose there is still the question of whether lying under oath is sufficiently serious to remove a president from office. I think it is reasonable reading of the constitution to say that it did not intend for any crime to be sufficient for removal from office. It at least leaves it up to congress to make that determination.

                Honestly, I don’t really care what the President does if it doesn’t have anything to do with the job. Clinton wasn’t a great president, but he wasn’t terrible. Probably better than having Gore.
                I’d rather have a car thief who fucks sheep who is determined to cut the federal government in half as president than a squeaky clean person of the sort we are likely to get.

            2. Is lying that he would end the war then keep fighting for 5 years also bad?

              1. Is lying that he would end the war then keep fighting for 5 years also bad?

                We both know that it’s who, not what. Had a Democrat started that war then all lies would be excused.

                1. Had a Democrat started that war I would now be a Republican.

                  Not all of us care about labels and dogmas. But I appreciate that you’re very stupid.

                  1. And I appreciate that you’re a liar.

                  2. Yemen, Pakistan, Libya, Afghanistan etc… Team Blue drop only bombs filled with delicious nougat.

                  3. Had a Democrat started that war I would now be a Republican.

                    Oh bullshit.

                    You were drooling over the bombing of Libya and Obama’s red line for Syria not so long ago.

                    Also I am sure you will happily vote for Hilary who supported the war and voted for it.

                    Furthermore you had ample opportunity to support and vote for real non-interventionists like Ron Paul and Gary Johnson and Nader yet you choose not to.

                    1. Also I am sure you will happily vote for Hilary who supported the war and voted for it.

                      She was misled by Bush’s lies! It was all Bush!

                      BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH!!!1!!1!ELEVENTY!

                  4. Had a Democrat started that war I would now be a Republican.

                    Bullshit. Your TEAM BLUE Chocolate Nixon dreamboat has been killing brown people all over the middle east for the last 5 years, yet you still get hard everytime you look at your cum soaked Shepard Fairey poster. You’re a TEAM BLUE shill through and through.

                    Which is perfectly fine by me, but don’t come one here and spout lies about how if a Democrat was as bad BOOOOSSSSSHHHH!!11!!!!! you’d be a Republican. No one is stupid to buy that shit.

                  5. Tony:

                    Had a Democrat started that war I would now be a Republican.

                    No, you wouldn’t.

                2. Had a Democrat started that war then all lies would be excused.

                  Most of the “lies” upon which the war was premised were actually created and propagated during the Clinton administration anyway.

                  “We know that [Saddam Hussein] has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country”

                  ? Al Gore, 9/23/02

                  “And some day, some way, I guarantee you, [Saddam Hussein] will use the arsenal. And I think every one of you who’s really worked on this for any length of time believes that, too.”

                  ? Bill Clinton, 2/17/98

                  “[Saddam Hussein] will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has 10 times since 1983.”

                  ? Sandy Berger, 2/18/98

                  “Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process.”

                  ? Nancy Pelosi, 12/16/98

                  1. I wonder which tag I forgot to close. Oh well you get the idea.

            3. First off Bush did not lie. he was simply wrong. He was not the only one who thought Iraq had WMD. Hilary, Putin and tony Blare also thought there was WMD.

              But yeah i think it would be great if we could impeach presidents for simply being wrong. I also think we should be able to impeach for lying under oath about BJs and for IRS playing politics even if the president didn’t know about it.

              I think this is good litmus test for the differences between libertarians and left wingers…or at least fascist leaning left wingers like Tony. (yes tony government mandated birth control is fascist). Essentially left wingers like Tony want a dear leader that is unimpeachable. Libertarians on the other hand believe in checks and balances and believe in the rule of law rather then the rule of socialist kings.

              Why should we give a shit about political careers of the people who hold the highest office? Why should we care if their character is assassinated in the media? They serve a purpose and when they start going outside that purpose it should be easy to get rid of them. Not as if there is not a huge line behind them that can replace them at a moments notice.

              1. He was not the only one who thought Iraq had WMD. Hilary, Putin and tony Blare also thought there was WMD.

                No, no, no! Bush lied, and the good Democrats were misled!

                Bush lied! People died!
                Bush lied! People died!
                Bush lied! People died!

                1. Obama lied. My health care died.

              2. Not to mention Saddam Hussein himself who testified at his trial that he WANTED people to think he had WMD because it kept his neighbors from storming his borders. But let’s not interfere with the liberal group-delusion.

              3. Bush got lazy and oversimplified the argument for invading Iraq.

                At the time he did it, I thought “oh crap, that’s the least important reason to do it.”

                Now I’m much smarter and wish we could have impeached GHWB before he invaded the first time.

    2. Tony:

      Yes, we should definitely make impeachment easier, because as a country we are definitely mature and nonpartisan enough to use it wisely.

      Since you appeal to democracy so much in your arguments, it’s hard for me to tell whether or not you’re being sarcastic.

      These are the same people who will elect wise rulers who understand our needs and desires and legislate with that strictly in mind, correct?

  16. If you want to revamp anything about our system of government, it shouldn’t be how often and how we are able to remove an executive. It should be to revert back to one representative for every 30,000 people.

    I’d even go a step farther and have everybody in a state vote and apportion the representation of that state to what party those people voted for. This way the two-party stranglehold would die almost immediately.

    1. I like that answer.

    2. This way the two-party stranglehold would die almost immediately.

      Which is why it will never happen.

    3. I am not sure killing the two party stranglehold would make things better. In places where they have a system of apportioned representation, you either get one party rule or if things are closely divided various niche parties demanding and getting all kinds of nutty demands in exchange for granting the deciding vote to the ruling coalition.

      The problem with this country is not our Constitution or the two party system. The problem is the people who inhabit that system and the public that allows them to do it. This country gets the government it wants and deserves in many ways. I don’t see how changing the system is going to make things better. It is not like the country would suddenly go all libertarian if only there were 10 Libertarians in Congress or whatever.

      We have a totally dysfunctional political class that is enabled by a craven and disgusting media and a largely disinterested, shallow and uniformed electorate. No amount of structural change to our Constitution or political system is going to fix that and is likely to make it worse.

      1. In thousands of years of trying, have you conservatives ever gotten people to change their behavior en masse by lecturing at them about their moral inadequacies?

        I’m with sloopy. I think a government that’s more directly accountable to the people is likely to be less corrupt. Increasing the size of Congress is a great idea (also increase the size of the Supreme Court). Run-off elections couldn’t hurt. We have an elderly system and its wrinkles are showing. If we weren’t so pig-headed about everything we could benefit from learning a thing or two from more modern democracies.

        1. We have run off elections. We have unaccountable “senior” politicians on committees that make national decisions with minimal input from junior reps.

          I’m not sure how increasing the number of reps would really change that.

        2. In thousands of years of trying, have you conservatives

          Oops. Posting on the wrong blog again, Tony?

        3. Tony:

          In thousands of years of trying, have you conservatives ever gotten people to change their behavior en masse by lecturing at them about their moral inadequacies?

          Slavery was ended primarily in this manner, on the principle of self-ownership, which is very libertarian.

          It certainly wasn’t ended by appeals to socialism, or the fact that slaves couldn’t vote.

      2. Like I’ve said before, I like Heinlein’s bicameral legislature that he outlined in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress where there is an actual incentive to repeal crappy legislation.

        In my opinion the reason government sucks so much is the cumulative nature of it. Consequences of well intentioned rules result not in repeal, but in more rules which have more consequences which result in more rules with more consequences… The result is a totalitarian system where there are rules for every minutiae of life.

        In that book the suggestion is a two chamber legislature where one house passes legislation and the other repeals it. Passing requires two thirds, and repeal requires only one third.

        That way something must require a lot of support to pass, and if it can’t keep that support then it can easily be repealed.

        Though I’m sure the political class would manage to pervert that as they pervert everything else.

    4. It should be to revert back to one representative for every 30,000 people.

      In addition to this, Congress should rarely, if ever meet in person. Most votes and other duties of Congress can be carried out over teleconference with the representatives voting from their offices in their home districts. If they never leave the district, and consitutents can actually walk up to them on the street and confront them over some of the stupid shit they do, then maybe some of the bullshit would stop. The only exception I can think of is maybe Declarations of War, and that’s only because of the seriousness of declaring war.

      1. Declaring war is so quaint.

      2. Videoconferencing in glass buildings, where constituents can surround the building like that Star Trek episode about overpopulation.

        1. Videoconferencing in glass buildings, where constituents can surround the building

          Give the constituents rocks to chuck and we’re talking.

          1. Perhaps, but I was thinking more signs, face-making, obscene gestures, and offal-throwing.

    5. This would also necessitate a new building for the House of Representative – maybe somewhere in the middle of the country. I’m totally for it.

  17. Long Live Brandon, King in the North!!

    1. No, Ramsay Bolton should be King in the North! He’s a cutter of dicks.

  18. I think there are a couple of important points. Presidents have resigned under threat of impeachment, and we have to consider the specifics of the case. Would Al Gore really have been a better President than Bill?

    I’m not convinced.

    But maybe we could have avoided decades of war and global warming nonsense if Al had had something better to do than make $1B.

  19. I like divided government. Our government does less harm when control is split. Heck, our whole system of government is based on the idea of checks & balances keeping the bastards from misbehaving too badly.

    I agree that impeachment is too hard right now, but if we make impeachment easy, then we may end up with the president always being of the same party that controls congress. This may work tolerably well in multiparty democracies, but I’m not so persuaded that it would work in our two-party system. Be careful what you wish for…

  20. “Because power corrupts, society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.” ~ John Adams

    “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” ~ John Adams

    We ignored the first John Adams quote because we no longer fit the description of the second quote. The party is over, only a national spiritual revival will stop our Rome-like downward spiral.

  21. Maybe we could exercise the nuclear option and reduce the number of senators voting for removal to a simple majority instead of two-thirds.

  22. The impeachment process would work if he had a press that wasn’t in bed with Team Blue. Evidence of Clinton’s multiple affairs prior to Lewinsky? The Press couldn’t be bothered to actually check the facts.

    Guy running for President with no actual leadership experience and no record of a single legislative accomplishment in his entire political career? Anoint him the chosen one.

    When the press had Nixon, whom they hated they worked day & night to vilify him (which, in retrospect was pretty easy.) The Saner republicans at the time realized that the whole party would go down with him unless they stood up and moved to impeach him.

    Right now I do not believe that there is anything Obama could do wrong that would result in a loss of Democrat support. They have all drunk the same Kool-aid.

  23. I actually think we should do away with impeachment entirely, even in the purely symbolic sense it exists now. When people vote amoral assholes into office they deserve to get exactly what they wanted, good and hard. Maybe take a little more care punching that ballot the next time.

  24. Obama killed Anwar Al-Awlaki with a drone. A great success. Then, to top it off he sent the drones in the next day and killed Al’s son, a 16 year old US citizen from Colorado. Not sure why he did that, since Al died the day before. This was not in a theatre of war, nor was it in a country with which we were at war. And, Al-Awlaki was a spokesperson for Al Qaeda. He had not been convicted of anything in any court of law, nor had he been accused of any terrorist act.

    If that don’t get you impeached, nothing will.

  25. If the president were limited in his powers as originally envisioned by the Constitution, it wouldn’t matter much whether we can remove him: his job is simply to execute the limited tasks Congress gives him, most of the domains where he does anything have no influence on most people’s lives, he might be able to refuse doing some of them if they seem like a bad idea, and if he really gets nothing done, can get replaced.

  26. It’s really not that difficult, Constitutionally, to remove a president via impeachment. The problem isn’t that the process is too cumbersome, it’s that we’re never willing to use it. The Senate leadership aspires to make the legislative branch into a cabinet-level position. And we can’t even get the House to do their jobs and control spending.

    The President was never intended to be a pseudo-Monarch or a Prime Minister. He’s just a guy who runs one of three co-equal branches of the government, and acts as CinC. Get rid of the myriad executive branch agencies and move those functions to the states where they belong. Fixed.

  27. Ah, some of the REAL Patriots decided to remove the Prez by force. 10-30 million were projected, they said, to show up in DC and demand removal of those criminals.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com…..-disappoi/

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.