Weekly The Generation, Year 1, Issue 13
November 28, 2023
Monica Lewinsky has called for elected officials to be subject to mandatory retirement ages and for presidential self-pardons to be banned.
The former Bill Clinton White House intern whose affair with the president eventually set the stage for his 1998 impeachment pushed for those measures in an opinion piece published on Monday by Vanity Fair.
Lewinsky, a political activist and writer, said that her editorial was inspired by recent discussions about whether the US constitution’s 14th amendment barred anyone from holding public office if they engage in an insurrection.
Though she did not name him, days earlier, Donald Trump moved to appeal a Colorado court ruling that found the former president engaged in insurrection through his incitement of his supporters’ January 6 attack but nevertheless could not be disqualified from seeking the Oval Office again in 2024.
Lewinsky said it was “bonkers” that the 14th amendment – which is otherwise known for extending equal protection under the law to all people within the US – “is the only place that addresses the disqualification of a candidate for such behavior”.
“How. Is. This. Possible? Why don’t we have more protections?” Lewinsky wrote in Monday’s piece, in which she described herself as “a constitutional nerd” who then began researching amendments.
She said she was surprised to learn that Congress passed the 27th and most recent constitutional amendment in only 1992. To her, the change was unimpressive – it clarified that proposed congressional raises could not take effect until the following legislative term.
But she later realized that in the century before the so-called compensation amendment, Congress added changes to the constitution “every 10 to 20 years or so”. She said this prompted her to conclude: “It’s time. We are overdue for some constitutional upgrades.”
Topping the list of a half-dozen proposed amendments, Lewinsky’s piece goes on to offer is an explicit ban against presidential self-pardons.
Trump is facing more than 90 pending criminal charges for subversion of the 2020 election he lost to Joe Biden, retention of government secrets after his presidency and sending hush-money payments to the porn actor Stormy Daniels. Though it is an untested legal idea, Trump in theory could pardon himself if he has already been convicted of any crimes and re-elected.
“Our constitution is not a game of Monopoly,” Lewinsky wrote. “For the head of the executive branch, there should not be a ‘get out of jail free’ card.”
Lower in Lewinsky’s piece but still prominently mentioned is an idea to implement both term limits and a maximum age of service for elected officeholders. She justified her argument in part by noting that there are minimum ages for US House members, senators and presidents – 25, 30 and 35, respectively.
“There are arguments to be made for experience,” Lewinsky wrote while alluding to the advanced ages of Trump (77) and Biden (81). “But for elected officials there is a point at which such qualifications risk being overshadowed by mental calcification and cultural deafness.”
Other Lewinsky-suggested amendments would abandon the electoral college system, which decides presidential elections instead of a popular vote, and an amendment reasserting women’s reproductive freedoms after the US supreme court in 2022 overturned Roe v Wade.
Clinton faced impeachment after lying about the affair he and Lewinsky had when he was 49 and she was 22. The Senate acquitted Clinton.
Lewinsky has since earned a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and worked to combat cyberbullying. She has spoken about how she was publicly demonized and humiliated during the scandal that enveloped Clinton’s impeachment, saying she did not have the same power and influence that protected the then-president.
Source: The Guardian