Outsider folk artist Devendra Banhart has penned a five-minute history of the 25th amendment, the entry in the U.S. Constitution that allows for the president to be replaced by the vice president if he or she is incapable of carrying out the duties of the president. The song is part of a compilation put together by WNYC’s More Perfect podcast, 27: The Most Perfect Album. The record comes out September 18th.
With a gentle guitar line and a restrained voice, Banhart details the line of succession that has existed in the country for nearly 300 years with some artistic liberties – such as a veep who eats drywall and saw Lincoln’s ghost and a House speaker who can’t communicate. He delivers a lot of the lyrics in grand mouthfuls as he narrates a figurative bloodbath in the Capitol, with each person dying so the next could lead the country. It’s like an episode of Designated Survivor but with a sense of humor and it ends with a fitting punch line.
The rest of 27 features songs about each of the other amendments in the constitution with contributions by Dolly Parton, They Might Be Giants and Torres, among others.
The 25th amendment, in particular, has been in the news recently with the publication of an op-ed essay in The New York Times by a high-ranking, anonymous official in the Trump administration. In it, he or she wrote: “Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until – one way or another – it’s over.”