Here’s Where the Presidential Line of Succession Starts to Get Wild

Let’s talk about Plan Z
Here’s Where the Presidential Line of Succession Starts to Get Wild

Ive been thinking a lot about the presidential line of succession recently. No reason! Please, FBI and other agencies, dont kick down my door. I rent, and Im pretty sure my landlord would air me out over it. 

Anyway, I digress. I think its safe to say that its something thats a little more on the mind of most Americans than usual, given that we have two presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, both hovering on either side of 80 years old. I guess theres also RFK Jr., but forgive me if I dont think the guy with a dead worm in his head like hes some sort of Men in Black meat suit is pulling off an upset.

“Man, did I take over the wrong Kennedy!”

Pretty much every American is already aware of plan B, which is the vice president. Hell, the fact that they're basically considered a backup president above any other duties they perform is probably a point of annoyance, like they're spending the term stored in a tube of pickle juice and not doing active, extensive work for the country. After the vice president, you get into the realm of some household knowledge. It's not stumping too many people, but could make it into bar trivia night. If you're sheepishly twiddling your thumbs: It's the Speaker of the House.

Because number three is the head of the House of Representatives, it makes sense that number four is, say it with me: The SECOND highest ranking member of the Senate. Got your ass! This is because the vice president also serves as the President of the Senate, and in this situation, theyre already no bueno. 

From here, were getting into some serious World War III stuff, as we start looking at members of the cabinet: the Secretaries of State (option #4), Treasury (option #5), and Defense (option #6), as well as the Attorney General (option #7).

Its once we get to options #8 and #9 that we get to some people who, well, would be weird to suddenly become president. Option #8 is the Secretary of the Interior, who would go in the blink of one uh-oh from handling the country’s federal land and natural resources to the whole thing, tip to tail. Nothing personal, Deb Haaland, this is just a thought experiment in service, mostly, of comedy. Please dont ban me from all of our National Parks. 

From Interior we jump to the Secretary of Agriculture. I certainly dont know Tom Vilsack personally, but my mental idea of a Secretary of Agriculture is somebody who would much prefer dealing with nature than the human beings who inhabit it. Theyre also in charge of the Food Safety and Inspection Service, where were not exactly killing it.

Imagine going from this on Monday to handling the Middle East on Tuesday.

That said, options #10 to #16 don’t particularly raise my hackles: Commerce (option #10), Labor (option #11), Health and Human Services (option #12), Housing and Urban Development (option #13), Transportation (option #14), Energy (option #15) and Education (option #16). All of those seem at least built around some central, incredibly important systems, with maybe the most “meh” being Transportation, despite how much Pete Buttigieg would sure like to be president. 

Its when we hit option #17 —  the Secretary of Veterans Affairs — that we get maybe my first genuine “oh god.” There might not be a single department I have heard more horrific things about than the VA. If they cant handle taking care of our veterans, how are they gonna take care of the rest of us? Though the only person below them is the Secretary of Homeland Security (option #18), which I assume would immediately lead to robots scanning our retinas before the traffic lights change.

After that, it all comes down to a “designated survivor,” which, yes, was a TV show starring Kiefer Sutherland. One member of the Cabinet, chosen by the president, is officially banned from being there if the whole rest of the Cabinet is hanging out. Like at the State of the Union, or Coachella, or whatever. For the 2024 State of the Union, for example, it was Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. Which feels like, I dont know, maybe something we shouldn't publish beforehand

I guess thats why Im not the Secretary of Homeland Security.

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