Ciboski: The Term 'Derangement Syndrome' Is Not Exactly New

Dec 25, 2019

Credit Chelsea Beck / NPR

An anonymous senior official of the Trump administration writes in a recent book titled A Warning that a psychological phenomenon is affecting a large portion of the country that some call “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” As the author says, if this were a clinical diagnosis, it would best be described as the disturbance in normal cognitive function resulting in irrational animus toward the president of the United States. The term is not exactly new, with Republicans previously accusing others of “Bush Derangement Syndrome,” and Democrats doing the same with “Obama Derangement Syndrome.”

But what is the remedy for this? The author asserts that feverish consternation about a president should not lead to non-electoral ways to fire a president, which should only be done as a last resort. If Vice President Mike Pence and a majority of the Cabinet felt Trump could no longer discharge his duties, they could remove him from office by invoking the procedures of the 25th Amendment. Of course, the question then is, what level of instability would warrant presidential removal? The author says if the emergency was that serious, there is no doubt but that Pence would accept becoming president.

The anonymous official says, “Would President Trump then stroll out of the White House, take a bow, and then board a helicopter and go home? Doubtful. This would be perceived by many Americans as a coup.” The author says millions of Americans would not accept the outcome, and certainly neither would the president himself. This would likely lead to unrest and violence in the country not seen since perhaps the Civil War. Another reason for not invoking the 25th Amendment is that in a democracy, when we are dissatisfied with a leader’s performance, we do not overthrow them. That is what third-rate banana republics and dictatorships do.

We have an election coming up, and it’s the voters who need to determine if Trump deserves another term.

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