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A Citizens’ Call to Invoke the Twenty-fifth Amendment

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.      

                                                               –Section 4, 25th Amendment


Mike Pence for president. While in normal circumstances I would never endorse him, between now and January 20, 2021, I think he should have the job. It is time for a citizens’ movement to demand the 25th Amendment to the Constitution be invoked and Donald Trump removed from office. Why? Because he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

He is clearly not in his right mind. Before the US has even reached the peak of COVID-19 cases (which could be 100,000 when you read this), he recklessly said, “I would love to have the country opened up and raring to go by Easter” on April 12. Every health expert—not to mention governors and mayors of both parties, and many Republicans members of Congress—think this is a dangerous idea.

Only a leader not in his right mind would buck the public health consensus and the practices of every other country that has successfully decreased the number of cases of the coronavirus. Wanting people to go back to work now is delusional; it threatens workers, their families, and thousands, potentially millions, as well as US and international security.

Whenever Trump, flanked by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, steps before the cameras he displays why he is unfit.  The doctors serving on that task force—especially Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx—witness his rants almost daily (and up close and too personal). Imagine Drs. Fauci and Birx leading a delegation to congressional leaders and the Trump cabinet to call for his removal. It isn’t hard to do. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

The Teflon president who has survived sex, lies, and Ukrainian tapes—even impeachment—is too dangerous to be allowed to remain in office—not for several more days, let alone several more months.

Take his tirade against NBC News reporter Peter Alexander last week. Noting that thousands of Americans are infected with the coronavirus and that millions more are frightened, Alexander gave Trump an opportunity to reassure an anxious nation, asking, “What do you say to Americans who are scared?” In response, Trump spat out, “I say that you are a terrible reporter. That’s what I say—” and then let loose a torrent of invective against Alexander. What president in his right mind would turn a moment to act as consoler-in-chief into a hysterical rant? (By contrast VP Pence answered, “I would say, ‘Do not be afraid to be vigilant.’”)

Are Trump’s supporters scared more of his wrath than they are of the virus? Are they blind to his erratic behavior? Sen. Mitt Romney was the lone Republican to vote to convict at Trump’s impeachment trial. Let’s urge him to meet with Dr. Fauci to discuss removal.

“These are psychiatric symptoms, not simply boorish behaviors,” Dr. John Talmadge, clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center tweeted recently, suggesting Trump is not sound of mind. “Trump is mentally ill, cognitively compromised, brain impaired.…”  We must not become the frog slowly boiling in poisoned water.

At a time when millions of people living through the pandemic have been urged—ordered—to stay indoors, and as world economies barely hang on, it is more than irresponsible to use the presidential bully pulpit to proclaim you have “a good feeling” that the antimalarial drug chloroquine could be a cure for COVID-19: it is delusional and a health hazard. No clinical trials have been completed to reliably suggest the drug as a treatment. In fact, an Arizona man died and his wife was hospitalized after they took chloroquine phosphate after hearing Trump suggest it as a possible effective treatment for the virus.

Dr. Bandy X. Lee, clinical professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, told Medhi Hasan of The Intercept that Trump “dangerously lacks mental capacity, which he exhibits through his inability to take in information and advice, to process critical information, or to consider consequences before making impulsive, unstable, and irrational decisions that are not based in reality but fight reality.” She pointed out that at coronavirus briefings he exhibits “delusional-level distortion and misinformation” because he is “disconnected from reality.”

Wildfire damage is easy to see. Earthquakes and hurricanes, too. The mental illness of a president endangering our country is right in front of us if we simply open our eyes.

Out of his depth, yes; out of his mind, definitely. Out of office? Only if we push to make it happen.

More articles by:

Rob Okun is a psychotherapist practicing in Amherst, Massachusetts and the editor of Voice Male, a national magazine chronicling the transformation of masculinity.

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