How Prepared Are We?

The U.S. military is well prepared for a recurrence of any type war it has previously fought, but each time it gets involved in a new war, it finds itself miserably unprepared. Recent hurricanes, forest fires, rising sea levels, changing climate and now the Covid-19 pandemic have clearly demonstrated our lack of preparedness for almost any kind of national disaster. So how prepared are we to handle a political disaster?

For the last three years Bill Maher has asked many members of Congress, who were guests on his show, what would happen if, upon losing the election in November, Donald Trump decided he wasn’t going to leave office, claiming the election was a fraud or somesuch? A few of the respondents had no answer and the answers of those who did don’t stand up to any scrutiny.

It’s a question hardly anyone ever asks and even fewer people have examined. Americans take for granted that government take-overs, coups, revolutions and other means of toppling governments can only happen in other countries, but not in the United States. Well, it’s time that Americans started to think seriously about the prospects of government overthrow in the U.S. because Donald Trump

    • revels in power,
    • acts like a dictator and appears to want to be one,
    • claims and believes, “…as president, my authority is total — TOTAL!”
    • threatens anyone who defies or challenges him,
    • has no regard for “rule of law”,
    • has a lot of support from heavily armed militia groups
    • praises dictators, and
    • on several occasions, has said he wants to be president forever.

So what’s to stop him from simply cancelling the election or declaring it was a fraud, declaring a national emergency, and declaring himself El Supremo dictator. Bear in mind, this has happened innumerable times throughout the world and throughout history, so why not in America?

Many argue that the chief impediment to a sitting president taking over the government is the Constitution. Clearly, the Constitution doesn’t allow such a thing. But the Constitution, regardless of how revered it may be, is simply a piece of paper. That’s not going to stop him.

So who can stop him. In theory, Congress could impeach him, but that would be a futile effort because he had already been defeated in the election. Furthermore, having taken the steps he had, he could simply dismiss Congress, tell them all to go home, — “you’re fired” and who would do anything about it. Who would or could evict him from the White House?

As head of the administration, the President is the titular head of nearly all federal enforcement including the military, Secret Service, FBI, ATF, Drug Enforcment Agency, Homeland Security and its adjunct agencies, Revenue Service and a host of others. Congress has no enforcement authority whatsoever. Even the Capitol Police belong to the administration. The only other federal enforcement organization is the U.S. Marshalls Service which belongs to the Supreme Court and the Federal Courts.

The President’s first line of defense is the Secret Service. His second line of defense is the military after which everything else is irrelevant. So after declaring himself El Supremo, who’s going to be the first to step up and evict him from the White House? Will the Secret Service bodily remove him or will they dutifully follow his orders? Would the Court send the Marshalls to evict him and if the Secret Service stood by the President would it degenerate to a gun battle between the two armed agencies? And what would the military do? Would the military stand behind their Commander and Chief or would they intervene? If the military supported the President, would it be unanimous or would there be a rift with some supporting the President and others opposing, and would this lead to conflict within the military? On top of all that, given the extreme polarization and near equal political divide in our populace, would this lead to civil war?

We all assume this won’t happen, that Trump will be Mister Nice Guy and dutifully hand the keys to the White House over to his successor and disappear into the woodwork. But Trump has never been Mr. Nice Guy, and there is no reason to believe he will change. All democracies are fragile, and ours is no exception and the potential for this President attempting to seize power and overthrow our democracy is greater than it has ever been in the history of our nation.

My real concern is that no one has an answer for this conundrum and worse, no one has a plan how to prevent it. How is that for preparedness?

Food for thought: the word fascist or fascism is derived from the name of the Italian political party, the Fascist Party, headed by Benito Mussolini. The party’s symbol was the fasces which is a primitive weapon consisting of axe blade embedded in a bundle of sticks bound by a leather thong.

After World War II, the word fascism was defined as follows: “a philosophy or system of government that advocates or exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with an ideology of belligerent nationalism”. This perfectly describes Mussolini’s government from 1922 to the end of the war. One might want to compare that description with our present government.

Bear in mind, both Benito Mussolini in Italy and Adolf Hitler in Germany were democratically elected officials prior to suppressing all political opposition and establishing single party dictatorships.