Quote Tweet, Dec. 20, 2020: Dr. Bandy Lee: “What do you do when there isn’t [an ounce of decency left in GOP…to tell Trump to stop planning a coup or he’ll be removed from office in accordance with the Constitution–Tom Nichols]? This is when arrest, or a mental health hold, becomes necessary. To continue to pretend that a person is presidential just because he is in the office of president will attract a myriad of common criminals to the position in the future.”
UPDATE: Dec. 28, 2020
For reasons that I explain in the following post (THINKING ALOUD re TRUMP: 23 days to go), I no longer agree with Dr. Lee and WMHC about removing Trump from office ASAP. Given the kind of bully boy that Trump is, that could change at any time. But, for the time being, my best judgment is that he is primarily an unimaginative, impotent coward and that his energy is dissipating fast.
End of Update
I started following Dr. Lee when she first appeared on Democracy Now! in 2017 as a mental health professional who felt she had a “duty to warn” about the potential dangerous of a Donald Trump presidency. Throughout Trump’s presidency, Dr. Lee and her colleagues at World Mental Health Coalition have repeated their warnings, holding town halls and conferences, writing books and articles. We finally tried impeachment, but the political will amongst our leaders–including Democrats–was pitifully puny.
Since the Nov. 3, 2020 election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the next President and Vice President, WMHC has been working non-stop to alert the public and officials (a) to the on-going danger that the Trump administration poses, and (b) to the increased danger of a lame-duck president as Trump and cohorts refuse to accept the election results. Dr. Lee has been especially active on Twitter.
Unfortunately, it appears that neither she nor anyone else in WMHC have grassroots organizing experience because as yet they have not proposed any real action plan. Kickstarting a 25th amendment process still seems an outside possibility (using the “other body” designated by Congress option). But a more direct action, requiring fewer steps and fewer actors, would be an arrest on the grounds of “a mental health hold”, or mental health referral.
In the interests of helping WMHC help the rest of the country understand the process of a mental health referral and our options, here is my short Twitter thread unrolled (6 Tweets) posted this morning (Dec. 20, 2020).
THINKING ALOUD RE TRUMP
–If a “mental health hold” or “arrest” were made, does WMHC think this would spark violence?
–Is this a risk WMHC thinks we the people should take?
SUGGESTION for WMHC
–DRAFT an Action Alert (internal use)
–Reflect on it for 24 hours
ACTION ALERT should contain
a. What’s the public emergency?
b. What action is needed to address emergency?
c. How can people initiate the right action?
d. What else can people do to create environment for immediate, peaceful action?
e. Who will provide updates, next steps?
ACTION ALERT: People will also want to know
–what is a “mental health hold”?
–how does a mental health hold or referral usually play out?
—in the case of Trump, who should request the “hold” (i.e., make the referral)?
–what is the correct language for a mental health referral?
—how will a Trump referral play out, compared to one for an ordinary person?
—who should receive the Trump referral—local Washington, D.C. emergency room? Walter Reed hosp.?
—what are the chances that, if a referral is made, some kind of violence will start?
—is making a mental health referral the same thing as kickstarting the 25th amendment?
–if WMHC is asking the public to initiate a referral, did WMHC Board already call their officials (U.S. Senators, Representatives to request the referral)?
AFTER 24 hours reflection…
If WMHC decides to go public with Alert, I recommend
–1-2 pages at most (very succinct, clear, like a Fact Sheet)
–WMHC make formal request to their officials
–post Alert on WMHC website, social media —??
POSSIBLE INTERIM STEP:
Draft a GENERIC Action Alert
A possible interim step, which I added later in an email to Dr. Lee, would be for WMHC to draft a generic action alert, without mentioning Trump or any current specifics. Such a generic document could be shared with media, with officials, and/or the public to facilitate a public discussion about the process without triggering any action until we’ve all had a chance to digest the process and possible ramifications (should we apply the generic process to 2020-21).
I wrote in my email to Dr. Lee,
“I think people are ready to take action, even so close to Jan. 20, but we need to be assured that this has been thought through and we need to know the details of how an arrest or mental health hold might play out. We know that no one—including WMHC—can guarantee a “no risk” process, but a practical, mature, and succinct outline would go a long way in getting people to take action.
“It’s even possible that simply discussing the process in public (e.g., a GENERIC Action Alert) might initiate some defusing of the situation that none of us imagined.”
We can hope.