The Trump “transition”

To the Editor:

Donald Trump will not complete his term as president of the United States. The combination of inexperience, ignorance, incompetence, venality, childishness and narcissism are leading us inescapably to a presidential crisis. He has demonstrated, almost on a daily basis, his inability to discharge the duties of our highest office.

But, this is not about Trump. This is about the rest of us and the responsibility each of us shares to enable a peaceful and constructive transition which lays the foundation for a stronger country and the reconstruction of national unity around our common and enduring values.

This is not a time for recriminations, or for blame or for self-serving I told you so’s. Nor is it a time for speculation, ungrounded in fact, about who did what with/to whom, or what did who know and when did they know it.

Each of us must face the responsibility of becoming authors of a changed future, an opportunity to reassert the time tested values which have made this country a beacon of democracy, a shared consensus of positive aspirations and a repository of common sense and respect for each other.

Our institutions were designed to respond even to crises as severe as the one we now cannot escape, but institutions must be driven by people of good will and deep patriotism.

The initial responsibility rests with our president. His lack of fitness and competence must weigh on him on a daily basis. It is conceivable that the mistakes he continues to make are based only in his lack of preparation and his temperament. Resignation would be an honorable course, not in disgrace or to a chorus of insult and degradation, but to a sense of sadness shared by all. If he chooses to continue, however, the responsibility passes to others.

Under the 25th Amendment to our Constitution, the cabinet and the vice-president have the responsibility to weigh the president’s capability of discharging his constitutional duties and are empowered to remove him from that position of responsibility. They, too, are sworn to uphold the Constitution. The most sacred, if rarely exercised, responsibility of cabinet office under our Constitution is to continually weigh the ability of the president to discharge the duties of the presidency. It would take great courage for them to act, but their individual oaths of office demand of them that level of courage and maturity. Quietly and soberly, our constitutional officers must begin to act. If they do not, their careers and reputations will fall victim to the maelstrom of presidential failure.

If the president should contest the cabinet’s findings, it falls to Congress, by a two-thirds vote, to confirm the decision of the cabinet.

Political party loyalty should have no place in their deliberations, nor should political aspirations or fears of reprisal on the part of those elected under the banner of one party or another.

Refusal by the vice-president and the cabinet to step up to their constitutional responsibility, supported by Congress if necessary, will only lead to the damage and conflict of the impeachment process, a cure almost, but not quite, worse than the danger it remedies.

Our role – the people’s role – in this decision will be crucial. We must visibly and vocally demand accountability from those who have sworn allegiance to the Constitution, and we must support, without recrimination and acrimony, those who have a responsibility to act. We must face this moment of crisis soberly and conservatively, with good will and heavy hearts. But we must face it.

It matters not who one voted for in the last election. What matters is getting quickly to the point healing can begin, and the quality of the candidates we demand in future elections.

This is our country. To it, we have pledged allegiance. With that pledge comes the responsibility to act.

David Hales

Bar Harbor

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