We have entered a time of radical thought. Arguments are being made for martial law. Secession. Dual, that is dueling, presidencies.
Those who have the ear of Donald Trump are advancing the idea that he declare martial law to void the November 3 election that court after court has endorsed as state after state has certified as untainted with more than sufficient Electoral College votes to award Joe Biden the presidency on December 14 and upon Inauguration Day January 20.
Ah, but there are yet 40 days before Inauguration Day, plenty time for Trump to wreak more havoc on our governmental institutions. The Constitution and subsequent acts of Congress, in fact, does assign a president extraordinary powers. Yet even during the Civil War Abraham Lincoln did not invoke martial law to avoid an election (which he won) but he did suspend habeas corpus, permitting the indefinite detention of individuals. And during World War II, Franklin Delano Roosevelt interned West Coast Japanese Americans.
A House Divided: Lincoln’s election triggered a long brewing secession movement by Southern states opposed to any restrictions on their slavery-based way of life. Today’s politicians and commentators who disdain the voting rights and power of minorities are voicing a new form of secession. Rush Limbaugh, anointed earlier this year by Trump with a Presidential Medal of Freedom, said Wednesday on his radio show that the U.S. is trending toward secession.
“There cannot be a peaceful coexistence of two completely different theories of life, theories of government, theories of how we manage our affairs,” he said of our house divided between conservative and liberal ideologies (https://mol.im/a/9041539).
Limbaugh is not advocating secession, but the mere mention of the radical idea is destructive of our national union. It followed by a month a tweet from congressman Price Wallace (R-Miss) that Mississippi needs “to succeed (sic) from the union and form our own country” if Biden is sworn in. He quickly erased the tweet (not because it showed he doesn’t know how to properly spell “secede”), but however strongly he disowns the sentiment it is on the public record.
Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis), a staunch Trump supporter who has to date declined to accept Joe Biden’s victory, is on record as saying half the country would not as well.
Which means, half the country would accept the results.
Apparently, Senator Johnson doesn’t believe in close elections. Apparently, he doesn’t believe elections have consequences. Apparently, he believes Democrats have to accept minority Republican rule, as they did when they accepted the elections of George W. Bush and Trump. Apparently, he and his Trumpian brethren—including 106 House Republicans—believe garnering seven million fewer votes than Joe Biden and way less than the required 270 Electoral College votes entitle Trump to be president again.
What to do? Secession is on Republican minds and lips.
Republicans are always touting their religious values, so perhaps we should look to the Good Book for guidance.
Fellow congregants, turn to Kings I, chapter 12. As any preacher could tell you, after King Solomon died the people of Israel sought tax relief from his successor, his son Rehoboam. Rather than heed their plea, Rehoboam responded, “My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke; my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.”
What did the 10 tribes of Israel do? Not surprisingly, they broke away from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to form their own kingdom. Did that work out for them? Not really, according to the Bible. Recall those who formed their own kingdom and eventually were conquered by the Assyrians are now known as the “10 lost tribes of Israel.”
Why don’t we let the states that Donald Trump won and/or support his challenge to the election results—Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, Texas and Arizona—form their own country? It would mean Democratic states would be mostly coastal, making Trumpian territory truly flyover country.
Historians will tell you partition—a nicer word than secession—has been done before, as when the British left the Asian subcontinent in 1947 divided between India and Pakistan. Let’s also not forget partition was the United Nations’ solution to the British mandate in Palestine.
So, how did those two partitions work out? None too well, as India and Pakistan are uncompromising enemies while Israel and the Palestinians are equally unyielding foes.
The breakup of Yugoslavia also does not provide assurances of peaceful coexistence of previously shared statehood. Other example of failed partitions abound.
What, you might ask, should be done with Democratic enclaves in the middle of the Red states? Austin in Texas, Omaha in Nebraska? Or Republican strongholds in otherwise Blue states, such as upstate New York? Again, turn to history. Until The Berlin Wall came down Berlin was a West German bastion of freedom surrounded by Communist East Germany.
Won’t people stuck in a state not to their liking want to relocate? Sure. We’ve had mass migrations before. But not everyone will want to vacate, say, Florida’s warm climate for Minnesota’s tundra winters. If they don’t move they will have to accept being a minority under a government not of their political hue.
It has become increasingly clear to me that differences between Trumpsters and the rest of America is an insurmountable continental divide. My friend Arthur and I no longer are included as part of an email group because we do not accept Trump, because we believe the election was legitimate, because we believe in science-based decision making, because we ask questions and do not blindly follow pronouncements from the current occupant of the White House.
If respectful dialogue is not countenanced we are lost as a united nation.
Dueling/Dual Presidencies: Like the time of the two popes in the late 1300s-early 1400s. Elections by the College of Cardinals—the Roman Catholic Church’s version of the Electoral College– weren’t easy back then, either. Eventually, Catholics repaired their schism.
But then, as now, two leaders who refuse to accept the other’s authenticity, has economic and international implications.
States that favor Trump are among the least wealthy, with the lowest educational and healthcare benchmarks. To provide basic services most enjoy receiving more dollars back from Washington than they sent to the federal government in taxes. Don’t expect those states to be forthcoming with the equivalent of Obamacare or minimum wage
During the Middle Ages, countries and different municipalities recognized different popes.
Today, if we have dual/dueling presidents, which president will countries recognize? You can bet Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and other Arab states would favor Trump, as would Israel, Russia and The Philippines. Biden will get the nod from democracies—Germany, United Kingdom, France, Canada. NATO members, other than Turkey, would also go for Joe.
Who would the military consider its commander-in-chief?
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark A. Milley, seems to be more favorably inclined towards Biden, but there’s no guarantee he will be chairman if Trump thinks he would turn on him. A replacement, a pliable replacement, might be in order.
How far down the chain of command does loyalty to the Constitution reside, or can Trump find a sycophant eager to please him and follow his bidding? His recent nomination of Scott O’Grady to be an assistant secretary in the Defense Department dramatizes Trump’s desire to implant his people at the Pentagon. O’Grady recently retweeted disgraced national security advisor retired general Michael Flynn’s call to suspend the Constitution and impose martial law (https://mol.im/a/9019671).
It’s all a dizzying array of non-appetizing prospects. Martial law. Secession. Dueling/dual presidencies.
To some degree, I’m kidding, of course. But the reign of terror, real and imagined, that Donald Trump has unleashed is palpable.