Opinion: If Democracy is Truly Dying, Has the Office of the U.S. Presidency Outlived its Usefulness?

Joel Eisenberg

A drastic overhaul of the U.S. government will not happen anytime soon, but may well serve several masters.

American Flag and EagleShutterstock


Prior to 1789 the United States had no president. As we count down to 2023, has it become time to reconsider our modern-day rules of politics?

Has the office become too big and unwieldy for a single “leader of the free world?” Indeed, should one individual wield so much power?

Was Donald Trump’s presidency healthy for the world, or had he himself repeatedly committed unpardonable acts of treason?

The answer, of course, depends upon who’s being asked. Further, if Joe Biden runs again and wins the popular vote, will claims of voter fraud again run rampant?

Valid meanderings, one and all. How then can one President, in truth, represent all citizens of such a polarized country?

Before we get to possible answers, allow me to acknowledge that this article, with apologies to “Star Trek’s” Kobayashi Maru, is a “no-win scenario.” I will surely be accused of not understanding our past and/or present political system, being ignorant of the Constitution and so forth.

Alas, I am a political junkie who reads and writes frequently on the matter. I am also college educated, a writer and a former teacher.

Moving on by moving back, to 2020…

2020, and Repercussions

During the height of our pandemic, it was announced that former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had tested positive for Covid-19. He was the first world leader to be so diagnosed, and most assuredly not the last.

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been in quarantine for nearly a week upon finding out her doctor had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Then-Prince Charles, now King, had tested positive, as had several U.S. senators, and while not world leaders their test results had only punctuated the indiscriminate nature of that year’s global crisis.

Our new reality, underscored by how much the world has changed in the last two years.

Then-President Trump was diagnosed with Covid. President Biden and the First Lady as well.

But what if our U.S. President, our VP and all others in the line of succession were inflicted — if not by Covid but perhaps some other affliction, medical or otherwise, at once? Where would we go from there? Who would lead the country?

After all, since the Spanish Flu early in the century, what happened to the world in 2020 would have been deemed highly unlikely in 2019.

It may well have been called “science fiction.”

The Idea of a Committee, or Board

One suggestion that came to my attention regarded creating a committee, something equivalent to a Board of Directors, as a secondary backup. In this regard, the country would theoretically be further prepared in the event of another, still deadlier crisis.

I’ll contend such a Board should at least be debated, despite easy comparisons to a controversial Supreme Court.

It all sounds incredibly naive and silly, I know, especially to my mind when I review my words. Specifics must be qualified, and certainly this would not be a perfect system on the surface. Consider, though, the psychology behind the matter and thoughts of political change may be of value.


To me, there are two primary questions that should be addressed:

  1. Should the U.S. Presidency be entirely reconsidered?
  2. Should the U.S. Presidency remain and be backed-up by a de facto Board in the event of a global crisis?

Again, doing away with a single national leader will not happen, perhaps ever. But backing that individual and their administration by a Board may make sense considering the lessons of our new reality.

The questions and answers would then be:

  1. Do U.S. voters vote for this Board? Yes.
  2. What does this Board do in the meantime? Members work their usual government jobs until called to duty.
  3. Should Board members be based off-site, maybe not in Washington? Perhaps.

Some readers who may consider all this, without immediately shooting it down, may ask about the possibility of such Board members working civilian jobs until called to duty.

Personally, that’s a less-preferred possibility for several reasons, but if said entities could participate in ongoing training and develop intensive practical experience, a possibility nonetheless.

Presidential Succession

The rules of the U.S. Presidential line of succession, created in 1792 and variously amended through the years, can be found here, via Wikipedia.

The current Presidential Succession Act was adopted in 1947, and last revised in 2006 in large part due to the post-9/11 realization that terrorist-related decapitation strikes could take the lives of many in the succession line at once.

For the record, our current line of succession is the following (graphic also courtesy of Wikipedia):

Current Presidential Line of Succession GraphicWikipedia


This article has been predicated on the ongoing claims that democracy as we know it is dying, or is already dead. In terms of the entire U.S. government system undergoing a restructuring to meet our new reality, is there value there in your opinion?

Logistics aside, is the idea a negative? Or, is it workable?

What are your thoughts?

Thank you, as ever, for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

Northridge, CA

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