Yes, it’s hard to believe, but I find myself turning away from the news and missing President Gerald R. Ford. In 1973, Ford was Speaker of the House. He succeeded Spiro Agnew to the Vice Presidency after Agnew’s bribery and money laundering crimes led to his resignation. Ford then succeeded Richard Nixon to the presidency after Nixon’s political crimes forced his resignation. Those were times of great political crisis and ugliness, much like we have today.
Ford was a nice enough but uninspired sort of guy. He pardoned Nixon and pretty much that’s all we remember about him. The economy was bad, but his government was benign. Ford and his dullness were a great relief after years of stress. People felt better. Disco came into its own, although I don’t know if Gerald Ford ever danced to it. It wasn’t a bad time. People got on with their lives. Americans are generally a happy, productive bunch of puppies as long as their political leaders don’t jerk on their leashes. The Ford years were not interesting times, but they were much better to live through than the Nixon years.
The Republicans don’t have a nice-guy leader like Gerald Ford ready to take over today. Should Donald Trump exit the scene, the executive branch would be taken over by a far-right politician named Mike Pence. We wouldn’t get the peace and relief of the Ford years. The government and our lives would continue to change for the worse. But it would be carefully planned. Perhaps Machiavellian. Far from happy or safe. But, we would, at least, be spared the daily clown show, the shock and stress of day after day of Presidential threats and blunders that is keeping us from getting on with our lives.
Our political world would continue to grow darker, but our government and our nation would survive. The main benefit of a Trump exit would be that we could vote to change our government again in four years and not have to rebuild from the ashes. The worst thing we fear about Donald Trump is his propensity for irreversible destruction.