Donald Trump is wholly unfit to be president — this much has been clear from the moment he announced his bid for the White House, and arguably long before.
But it is not the president who poses the greatest threat to American democracy right now. As noted Thursday by Vox’s Ezra Klein, the Constitution recognizes the potential for an unfit president and offers remedies.
The problem for which it provides no immediate solution — and which presently constitutes the most danger to the country — is a spineless Congress that fails to act in the face of a president like Trump.
> It’s no secret that much of Trump’s staff thinks he’s ill-informed, impulsive, even dangerous. Political scientist Dan Drezner has been tweeting quotes from Trump staffers talking about the president as if he is a toddler for years now. There are now 475 tweets in the thread.
> And even if there weren’t, these are not the kind of revelations that require insider leaks to alert the public. Anyone who has watched Trump speak or read his statements can conclude he is ignorant, reckless, distractible, narcissistic, illiberal, conspiratorial, and bigoted.
The president has made little if any effort to hide his true nature as he sought the White House, and he has continued being Trump since the day he was sworn into office.
And despite their inaction, Republicans are well aware of the tendencies and characteristics of the president, as evidenced by statements from Senator Bob Corker following this week’s anonymous New York Times op-ed claiming there is a “silent resistance” within the Trump administration: “[T]his is what all of us have understood to be the situation from day one.”
> Corker’s statement was meant to be a damning indictment of Trump, but it’s actually a damning indictment of Corker and his colleagues, who have done little to check Trump save complain to the press. They have known the situation was this bad since day one, and they have done nothing about it.
> Corker, at least, speaks out. The rest of his party has studiously avoided the subject, actively protected Trump from investigation and oversight, and constantly excused the president’s outbursts. Privately, they gripe that they know this president is unfit for office, but they don’t want to imperil their tax agenda, judicial nominees, or reelections by actually acting on that judgment.
The Tennessee Republican went on to describe what appears to be his party’s solution to the problem of Trump:
> “That’s why I think all of us encourage the good people around the President to stay,” he said. “I thank General Mattis whenever I see him.”
And this is precisely the problem: Congressional Republicans are willing to put their trust in an unknown cabal of so-called “resisters” within Trump’s administration, in hopes they can fulfill their conservative agenda while simultaneously keeping the president from doing irreparable harm.
> The Founding Fathers were not unaware of the possibility that a demagogue or a knave might win the presidency. That’s why they checked the executive with an independent Congress and built in powers of impeachment. That Republicans in this Congress have proven so subservient to — or scared of — Trump that they have let the fate of the country hinge on whether his staff can adequately distract and calm him is a subversion of the constitutional order and an abdication of responsibility.
> Trump is what he is. And what he is is a man who shouldn’t be president. The question is whether our political system is capable of responding to that kind of mistake, or threat, in any serious way. So far, the answer is no.
Klein closed with a quote from an article he wrote last year on the power of impeachment:
> Sometimes I imagine this era going catastrophically wrong — a nuclear exchange with North Korea, perhaps, or a genuine crisis in American democracy — and historians writing about it in the future. They will go back and read Trump’s tweets and his words and read what we were saying, and they will wonder what the hell was wrong with us. You knew, they’ll say. You knew everything you needed to know to stop this. And what will we say in response?