Donald Trump’s greatest political skill is his ability to cause his opponents to be even crazier than he is. The best example of this can be seen through those who have seriously considered invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.
“Unable” to Serve
The 25th Amendment dictates rules for succession should a president die or become unable to serve. The belief that this is even a valid suggestion has spread surprisingly far. Just last week, a Yale psychiatrist briefed Democratic members of Congress on Trump’s mental health. Even conservative mainstay Bill Kristol has piled on. People who identify as members of the “loyal opposition” seem to honestly believe that invoking the 25th Amendment is justified.
Their asininity focuses on Section 4 of the Amendment, which reads in part as follows:
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.
Proponents of this idea are advocating, for all intents and purposes, a coup dressed up as an “intervention.”
Misusing Mental Health
In recent years, growing numbers of people have concluded that “mental health issues” have been seriously ignored in the past. This renewed focus on mental health, especially in the wake of mass shootings and VA fiascoes, certainly has its positives. Mainly, there is an effort to de-stigmatize mental health issues and encourage people to seek help.
However, this trend has also had its downsides. Notably, we are encouraged to think that people who do things we find evil or abhorrent must be mentally incapacitated. After all, why would a rational person do that!?
It is almost impossible to exaggerate the serious consequences of calling things we simply dislike, no matter how strongly, signs of mental illness. The standards of decorum for the President should be different than they are for Alex Jones. However, that does not mean Trump is clinically insane for insulting Mika Brzezinski’s face, questioning Barack Obama’s birth certificate, or even for saying Ted Cruz’s father was a conspirator in the JFK assassination. Those things may be morally reprehensible, but that in itself is not evidence of insanity.
Stating that Trump is medically unfit for office undermines real mental illness for the sake of a political witch hunt. This trivializes a serious issue, in the same way that racism, sexism, and other -isms and phobias have been trivialized.
In describing these evil or abhorrent events, we use the same word to mean different things. For example, the man who shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was a diagnosed schizophrenic who believed grammar was a government conspiracy. By contrast, Donald Trump tweets about the size and functioning ability of his “nuclear button.” Our contemporary lexicon says both are “crazy,” but nobody can seriously claim they are both the same.
Despite this reality, a handful of people–including Democrats on Capitol Hill–want to say that they are the same for purely political purposes.
If a private citizen did what Trump has done, nobody would seriously say that that person needed a psychiatric evaluation. Yes, Trump has more influence than your uncle whose crazy political websites “help” him argue with you over Thanksgiving dinner. But just because is microphone is bigger does not mean he is any more or less stable.
Saying outrageous things, acting immaturely, and holding evidence-free beliefs about one’s political opponents are not signs of mental incapacitation. Trump has done all three, but so have his opponents. If one of them becomes President instead of Trump, should we invoke the 25th Amendment against them, too?
If so, then you might as lock every single American away in an insane asylum.