August 9 – Veep Day

Posted on August 9, 2018

Today is the anniversary of the one-and-only time that a president of the United States has resigned. It was Richard Nixon who resigned, and his action on this date in 1974 made Vice President Gerald Ford the nation's president.

Veep Day was created in honor of the fact that the United States has an orderly plan for power to transfer from one person to the next, if that is every necessary. Like I said, Nixon is the only U.S. president who ever resigned, but eight presidents have died in office, four of natural causes and four from assassins' bullets.

Do you know which ones were assassinated?

William Henry Harrison - 1841
Zachary Taylor - 1850
Abraham Lincoln - 1865
James A. Garfield - 1881
William McKinley - 1901
Warren Harding - 1923
Franklin Delano Roosevelt - 1945
John F. Kennedy - 1963
Of course, whenever the president dies, resigns, or is found unfit to continue on as president, the vice president is sworn in as the new president.
If a disaster were to strike both the president and the vice-president, or even more government officials, the line of succession goes like this: Speaker of the House, Senate President Pro Tempore, Secretary of State, Secretary of Treasury, Secretary of Defense, Attorney General...

The line of succession wasn't always this way; laws creating different rules answering the question "who's next?" were passed in 1792, 1886, and 1972. 

In recent decades, a few governmental officials have noticed that there are times when ALL of the folks in the line of succession are in the same place at the same time. We're talking about inaugurations, State of the Union addresses, and high-level funerals. Because of the possibility of an enemy taking advantage of such gatherings to launch an attack, there is a designated survivor chosen to NOT attend the event, but instead to wait in a safe-and-secure and NOT publicized location. If someone were to launch a terrible attack, the survivor would be able to create lawful continuity of the government.

The TV show "Designated Survivor" explores
the idea of a low-ranking cabinet official suddenly
becoming president!

Some nations with presidential governments have similar laws about presidential succession - similar but completely different, of course. For example, in Argentina, after the Vice President, Provisional President of the Senate, and President of the Chamber of Deputies (which is like the U.S. House of Representatives), the presidency would go to the President of the Supreme Court and then to living former presidents, in order of seniority!! Can you imagine if a huge disaster befell Argentina, and Isabel Martinez de Perón, age 87 - who had been exiled to Spain and later arrested for political crimes -became president?

Alain Poher is the only
French politician to become
Acting President -
and he served in
this way twice.
Not all nations have vice-presidents and complicated laws of presidential succession. For example, in France, if the president dies, resigns, or is incapacitated, the President of the Senate takes over as ACTING president, until a new president can be elected. By law, the new election must be held between 20 and 35 days following the vacancy. Because of the way French presidential elections operate, there can be two rounds of election (like U.S. primary elections and general elections), so the President of the Senate can only be acting president for up to 50 days, and there are several limits on what the acting president can do.

Aside from talking about presidential succession, Veep Day could be a day to talk about Vice Presidents in history and on television. Here are a few of my favorite veeps:

Veep Joe Biden had a warm, genuine relationship with President Obama.

Veep Al Gore raised consciousness on climate change with documentaries and speeches and articles.

Veep Mackenzie Allen, played by Geena Davis becomes the United States's first female president in the show Commander in Chief.


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