Is Nancy Pelosi the Legitimate President of the United States?
An analysis based on the current official United States Position on Venezuela
The question, which may initially seem absurd, has a strong sense of logic. Of course, logic is merely an exercise reliant on the veracity of the premises to which it is applied and the premises in both suppositions considered above are highly suspect. In essence, the premise is that in a constitutional democracy, if an election is determined to be illegitimate for some reason (and reasons always abound) by the opposition, the elected officials ought to be replaced by their constitutionally designated successors, even if auto proclaimed.
In the current case of Venezuela, a constitutional convention was called in accordance with constitutional requirements and delegates popularly elected, although segments of the opposition refused to participate. In accordance with the constitution, the Constitutional Convention enjoyed precedence over the previously elected and serving National Assembly and it amended the Venezuelan Constitution and then called for new presidential elections. Several candidates competed in such elections, some from the opposition but again, others within the opposition boycotted them. Nicholas Madura was reelected and assumed his office but those who chose to boycott the elections refused to recognize the results and, deeming them illegitimate, have acknowledged the president of the National Assembly, constitutionally next in line, as the legitimate president.
The foregoing does not consider the dire straits in which the Venezuelan people find themselves or who’s to blame. The options seem to be: economic sabotage by the opposition; United States led economic sanctions and outright theft of Venezuelan government assets; or, Venezuelan government ineptitude and corruption. The likelihood is that the convergence of all three is responsible although, interestingly, the proposition of current Colombian President Ivan Duque (a stand in for former president Álvaro Uribe) that the refusal to permit entry of humanitarian assistance into Venezuela is a crime against humanity would seem to apply, not to the Maduro regimes refusal to permit entry of “three tractor trailer loads” of humanitarian aid, but rather to the Obama — Trump economic sanctions specifically designed to starve the recalcitrant Venezuelan populace into submission.
In the case of the United States, the Democratic Party, the mainstream media and the “Deep State” determined that the presidential elections of 2016 were invalid because of supposed “Russian meddling” in supposed collaboration with individuals somehow related to the victor, Donald J. Trump. Since, in the United States, the president and vice-president are elected on the same ticket, any inability applicable to the president would also apply to the vice president and thus, in case of the legal disqualification of both, the Speaker of the House of Representatives would assume the office of president. Currently Mrs. Nancy Pelosi of California serves in that role, although at the time that Messrs. Trump and Pence assumed their offices, the Speaker was a Republican, Mr. Paul Ryan, so perhaps he should have been president, although the Clinton camp would insist that Mr. Trump, not having been a legitimate option, the votes of electors pledged to him in the Electoral College should have been invalidated, leaving Mrs. Clinton as the victor, and strangely, Collin Powell as the runner up. The latter scenario would require that electors pledged to Mrs. Clinton who lost to electors pledged to Mr. Trump also be deemed invalidated.
Consistent reasoning if not altogether valid.
Ironic given that Mr. Trump is the architect of the Venezuelan scenario now promoted by the United States, i.e., recognition of Mr. Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela which, if applied to the 2016 United States presidential election, would be clear only in delegitimizing Mr. Trump’s right to the office, leaving Mrs. Pelosi, Mr. Ryan and Mrs. Clinton to fight it out in the federal courts. If the case was initially brought in the federal district courts in the Ninth Circuit, Ms. Pelosi would probably win, it being her district, with Mrs. Clinton a possible dark horse and Mr. Ryan, continuing the horse racing analogy, on the outside looking in. The decision would be affirmed at the appellate level only to be reversed by the Supreme Court long after the issue became moot. We could then begin the process of delegitimizing the results of the 2020 presidential election.
To be clear, I find Ms. Pelosi even more distasteful as a political leader and human being than Mr. Trump, and Mrs. Clinton the worst of the lot, leaving Mr. Ryan as the most palatable, albeit someone with whose political positions I rarely agree. But logic is logic and, unlike how most would interpret that phrase, logic based on false premises leads to inaccurate conclusions almost every time. The fact is that though distasteful to many, perhaps most (but given the “mainstream media’s lack of credibility that is impossible to determine), both the 2016 presidential election in the United States and that of 2018 in Venezuela are legitimate by constitutional and judicial standards, and thus the United States must needs continue to be saddled with a Trump presidency for the foreseeable future, while Venezuela, …. well, … legal and constitutional concepts do not apply to countries not in the neoliberal — neoconservative club so, … who’s to say.
I wonder if Mrs. Pelosi or Mrs. Clinton have considered this scenario?
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2019; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.
Guillermo Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen). Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at email@example.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at www.guillermocalvo.com.