As Americans, do we have the right and/or duty to prevent an individual from taking the Oath of Office to become the president if they strongly oppose that individual?

  • 26
    Yes. By voting a better candidate.
    – SJuan76
    Nov 14, 2016 at 15:09
  • 4
    If it's any consolation, the Founders understood the fact that politics would attract the power-hungry and they were keenly aware of how people in power could shift the dynamic toward tyranny and despotism. As such, they carefully designed a system of checks and balances to keep the power struggles mostly contained and, above all, played out in a way that avoids bloodshed. The system isn't perfect, but it works toward minimizing the harm our leaders can do. Some of the more cynical might even say that all candidates are unfit, by virtue of human nature. Thus the Constitution.
    – Dan Bryant
    Nov 14, 2016 at 15:28
  • Somebody may be able to demonstrate that Trump was not born in the USA. Has he shown his birth certificate? He certainly hasn't shown his tax returns. Might he be a Moslem or a Communist in disguise? Has he committed high crimes and misdemeanours? I feel sure there are endless possible reasons why he could be deemed unfit to take office. You just need to identify them.
    – WS2
    Nov 14, 2016 at 15:47
  • 1
    @EthanBierlein - your original edit was perfect. "significantly changing the tone" of the question from opinionated rant to a balanced question is what editing is for, and the former shouldn't be on the site. I wish more people put in the effort to clean up existing questions instead of just criticizing, please don't let someone's opinion dissuade you from willing to do a beneficial and necessary cleanup.
    – user4012
    Nov 14, 2016 at 16:37
  • 2
    Remember, if Trump is deemed unfit the Presidency passes to Pence.
    – gerrit
    Nov 14, 2016 at 18:11

7 Answers 7


The legal right? No.

The moral right and duty? That depends on your personal morals and ethics.

I urge you to remember though, half of your countrymen think that the candidate that won is fit to hold office, and democratically voted for them, twice (nomination and election).

Many of them consider your candidate to be unfit to hold office.

Consider if you want to live in a society where it is OK to overthrow the results of a democratic election.

  • 5
    Trump received 14,010,177 votes in the primaries, or 44.9% of votes cast, and 60,371,193 votes in the General Election, or 47.28% of votes cast. Assuming all who voted for him in the primaries also voted for him in the general election, 4.31% of the population voted for him in the primaries and 18.59% in the general election. It is not accurate to state that half voted for him twice.
    – gerrit
    Nov 14, 2016 at 18:18

Yes we do. It's called being civically responsible by being informed, engaged and participating by speaking about the issues, and, most importantly, voting.

Our usual voting rate is around 50% for presidential races, and in this election I heard we had 18 million less votes cast than in the previous cycle. NOTE: Brythan pointed out in the comments that the 18 million number is completely wrong. I'm leaving it there so as not to "whitewash" my original answer, but it is wrong.

So, we have that duty, and we blew it, collectively, if you feel that the outcome is one where an unfit person is going to take office. Too late for buyers remorse after the fact. We had about 15 months to send any unfit candidates packing. That should be plenty of time to figure it out.

  • The original question implies that the vote has already taken place. The question is how to block a legitimate vote.
    – user9790
    Nov 14, 2016 at 17:32
  • While that may be one interpretation, it does not explicitly say so. If we want to "infer," you can infer that, since my answer clearly delineates that any responsibility lies in the informed use of the vote, and the vote has passed, the answer would be "no." Pointing out that there is such a responsibility, and that it was readily and easily available for use absolutely addresses the "inference" of the question. Odd that you can infer from the question, but not the answer. Nov 14, 2016 at 18:26
  • 4
    "in this election I heard we had 18 million less votes cast than in the previous cycle." That's rather obviously false. 2012 votes for president: 129,085,410. 2016 votes: estimated 131.7 million. That's about 2 million higher, not 18 million lower. Of course, almost 5% of those voted for third-party candidates, so Clinton's vote was about 5 million behind Obama's and Trump was behind Romney's.
    – Brythan
    Nov 14, 2016 at 20:27
  • @Brythan - thanks. That was, literally, morning after commentary, and that sounded like a pretty huge number, which is why I've been saying that it was a number "I heard." Thanks for supplying the facts. Nov 14, 2016 at 21:20

The election is over and done with. As Citizens, our job is finished. We've cast our votes and played our part. Legally, we don't have a Do-over button we can smack if we didn't like the result.

As for Morally, it depends. If you believe Trump is Nu-Hitler, then you're morally required to do something. However, I personally believe that representing him that way is overblown fear-mongering, and that from a moral standpoint we need to respect the results of the election.

  • Not quite true. The state legislatures still have to appoint electors by December 13th who will vote on December 19th: politics.stackexchange.com/a/13171/2565
    – user2565
    Nov 16, 2016 at 18:36

You do indeed, it's called the Democratic Process. By voting for your preferred candidate you can have them elected as president, and to prevent an unfit person from entering office, you simply need to ensure that they do not get a majority of states to choose them over another candidate.


You do not have the right to overturn a fair and accurate election. You do not have the right to determine fitness. The vote that just occurred did that.

You may want to peruse the laws and penalties against public insurrection: What are the US federal crimes and penalties against public insurrection?

I thought the advocating the overthrow of government particular pertinent in this regard.

Whoever knowingly or willfully advocates, abets, advises, or teaches the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying the government of the United States or the government of any State, Territory, District or Possession thereof, or the government of any political subdivision therein, by force or violence, or by the assassination of any officer of any such government; or

Whoever, with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of any such government, prints, publishes, edits, issues, circulates, sells, distributes, or publicly displays any written or printed matter advocating, advising, or teaching the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence, or attempts to do so; or

Whoever organizes or helps or attempts to organize any society, group, or assembly of persons who teach, advocate, or encourage the overthrow or destruction of any such government by force or violence; or becomes or is a member of, or affiliates with, any such society, group, or assembly of persons, knowing the purposes thereof—

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.

If two or more persons conspire to commit any offense named in this section, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.

As used in this section, the terms “organizes” and “organize”, with respect to any society, group, or assembly of persons, include the recruiting of new members, the forming of new units, and the regrouping or expansion of existing clubs, classes, and other units of such society, group, or assembly of persons. (June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 808; July 24, 1956, ch. 678, § 2, 70 Stat. 623; Pub. L. 87–486, June 19, 1962, 76 Stat. 103; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(N), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2148.)

  • 3
    While correct, certain irony is to be found in the fact that USA as a sovereign country did, after all, originate in insurrection.
    – user4012
    Nov 14, 2016 at 16:38
  • 2
    @user4012 I find more irony in the fact that people that a couple of weeks ago were claiming that "the elections are rigged" and "there is a conspiracy" now have their mouth full of "fair and accurate election" (wtf is an "accurate election?") and posting left and right the penalties for "advocating the overthrow of the legitimate government". But hey, congratulations on their newfound belief in democracy...
    – SJuan76
    Nov 14, 2016 at 16:43
  • 2
    @SJuan76 - Well duh. Humans are, y'know, hypocritical. It's a fact of nature. Both sides take up whatever principles support their desired outcome and reject the ones that don't. Having said that, primaries were definitely proven to have been rigged against Sanders - and this is coming from someone who dislikes the idea of Bernie as President.
    – user4012
    Nov 14, 2016 at 16:45
  • 1
    @SJuan76 Interestingly, when asked, Trump still maintains his belief that the election was rigged. He's not necessarily wrong. How hard would it be to modify the vote count in an area by, say, 1%? Consider that the political establishment controls the counting of votes, and that 89 electoral votes were decided by a swing of less than 1%. The potential for there to have been shenanigans is not zero.
    – Kaz
    Nov 14, 2016 at 16:50
  • An accurate election is one where there is one man, one vote. Why that has to be explained is beyond me.
    – user9790
    Nov 14, 2016 at 16:55

Wikipedia has an interesting article on the Right of Revolution. That right continues to be enshrined in several state constitutions. It's not clear whether it's an individual right (as discussed here) or a collective right (a more widespread uprising)


You have the right to vote your conscience and judgment. You have the right to voice your opinions if you don't like the outcome. However, in a democracy, you don't have the right to disrupt the democratic process if you don't like the outcome. That would be imposing your views upon others, while disrupting due process.

In the US, there are other ways to protest an election. Consider what happened after 2008, when the democratic party swept the presidency and both houses of congress. In 2010, voters went to the polls and gave the House of Representatives, which is fully re-elected every two years, to the republican party. Hint: There is another midterm election coming up in November, 2018.

As for someone being 'unfit for the office'... in the 2016 US presidential election, it is arguable that neither of the prime candidates was fit to hold the office. US voters should be asking themselves how both major political parties could fail so badly, at the same time.

Imagine someone in 2008 deciding that they would disrupt the Oath of Office, because they didn't like the outcome. That might help you get a clearer perspective on what you are suggesting.

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