Britain was blessed, cursed and obsessed with a controversial politician named Boris Johnson who had a good brain and mostly good policies but a bad personality. For the latter, he’s been canned. His own crew have jumped ship, effectively dragging their captain overboard with them.
Don’t feel sorry for Johnson. He’s a bit of a jerk, he got caught up in some ridiculous little scandals, he got very little backing from his friends whom he backed very little in their own times of need, he had a habit of saying attention-grabbing but inappropriate things, he’s a second-rate womanizer, and he has funny hair.
Johnson was a conservative, or a “Tory” as the Brits call them. You might therefore suppose that the outcome of this political fall would be that the opposing party, the Labour Party, or what we Americans would call the Democrats when we’re feeling charitable – or the Socialists, Marxists, Communists, Stalinists, Maoists or Chavistas when we’re not – now comes into power.
Wrong. When a British Prime Minister resigns before his term has expired, his successor is chosen by the majority party in Parliament. Today, that’s the Tories, the same party that chose Johnson.
(This being Britain, I should mention that there’s a role for the monarch in all this but the role is almost always ceremonial. There’s no chance that Queen Elizabeth II will appoint hairy Harry.)
America is different in two basic ways here. One is that presidents hardly ever resign. The most recent one to resign was Richard Nixon, who resigned nearly half a century ago.
In Britain, prime ministers resign in the wake of scandals or simply because they lose a no confidence vote in Parliament. Johnson survived his no confidence vote – barely – but was still sunk by his scandals along with back stabbing and front stabbing from his own staff.
If Congress in America held no confidence votes as Parliament does in Britain, it’s likely that Joe Biden would no longer be our half time and half-witted president; he’d be full time and outwitted in his Delaware basement by now. Politicians are smart enough not to express confidence in a leader with approval ratings in the low 30s. Indeed, Biden can’t even scare up local Democrats to join him on the stage when he comes to town.
The second difference is that in America the President’s successor in the event of a resignation or incapacitation is predetermined. It’s the Vice President or the Speaker of the House or the President Pro Tempore of the Senate or the Secretary of State and so on, in that order.
This particular collection of politicians at this particular time in history is not stellar. It’s Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, 82-year-old Patrick Leahy, and someone named Blinken. It goes downhill from there as it dives deeper into Joe Biden’s Cabinet, whose members were chosen more for skin color and sexual preference than for merit.
In America, there’s no opportunity for Congress to pick a successor and certainly no opportunity for the people to do so, until the next presidential election anyway.
And so, in Britain the Tories will replace Johnson with another Tory to continue mostly popular Tory policies without Johnson’s personal baggage. (In a bizarre twist, there’s speculation that their replacement for Johnson will be … Johnson.)
But in America, we’re stuck with Biden for another two and a half years unless the media finally discovers the zillion pixels of family wide criminality on Hunter’s laptop that the rest of us know about but the investigative “journalists” at the New York Times and Washington Post have not yet sleuthed.
And in the unlikely event that they do, Joe’s replacement will be Kackling Kamala.
There’s another more subtle but even more serious problem about the choosing of American presidents. They’re chosen by the people (albeit with a small amount of buffering through the Electoral College) which sounds like a good thing. But people are reactionary. A reaction against overreach by Barack Obama is what elected Trump. I liked Trump’s policies and voted for him twice but he has a lot of Boris Johnson in him which turned off many voters.
Those turned-off voters then reacted against Trump by electing Biden who, for all his failings – and there are more failings in Biden than we’ve ever seen in a president – is indisputably not Trump.
(I know, I know, many of you will say that the people did not in fact elect Biden. I won’t re-re-re-litigate that, other than to say that enough people voted for him that he’s President today.)
Under a parliamentary system back when Trump was elected in 2016, we probably would have gotten a Republican president with Trump-like policies without the Trumpian tweets, titters and twitters.
That Republican president would now be in his sixth year in office. He would have managed Afghanistan much better. He would not have injected trillions of wasted, inflationary and indebting dollars into the economy. He would have stared down Vladimir Putin, as Kennedy did Khrushchev and Reagan did Gorbachev. He would have maintained America’s energy independence to keep gas prices reasonable. This past spring, he would have replaced Justice Stephen Breyer with another conservative to give the Supreme Court a conservative tilt for the next 30 years.
And if the Republican fell into disfavor and he were defeated after a single term, we never would have wound up with Joe Biden. The Democrat party elders would have picked someone I don’t like, such as John Kerry or Al Gore, but at least it wouldn’t be an embarrassing, stumbling, bumbling, incompetent, stupid, senile, servile, comical, corrupt doofus with capped teeth, hair plugs, ill-fitting suits, a psychopathic son, and a wife who writes his inane speeches and wants to be called “doctor.”
I have a lot of respect for America’s founders, but in the matter of presidential succession they screwed up.