Is it time to panic? Or will it be, soon?
What happens if no clear winner in November? Not just in Trump vs. Biden vs. Jorgensen et al, but in the House races and the Senate races?
Regardless of the outcome on 3 November, there WILL be social unrest. There is sure to be a continuation (and probably intensification) of this civil war we are now in. But if there is no clear winner – national popular vote or in certain states, or clear Electoral College winner – it may take weeks or months to resolve. But regardless, the current President’s term ends at noon (EST) on 20 January 2021. If there is not a victor, the Constitution specifies the Speaker of the House becomes Acting President.
That sends many people into a tizzy. And many people have touched on this subject – let me add a few thoughts. And (I think) try and calm some fears.
Most of us expect things to ramp up as we near election day. And based on the last few elections, it is a wise person that figures the long and drawn-out election process will be further reason (AND excuse) for still more. Few of us expect any healing to occur between the beginning of November and the middle of January.
But what if there is NO Speaker of the House? If so many congressional elections are contested that there is not a quorum of the House to elect one? Next in line, as I recall, is the President Pro-Tem of the Senate. But what if that seat (which I think is also the Majority Leader of the Senate) is vacant because there is not a clear majority due to election challenges? What if BOTH Legislative and Executive Branches are in turmoil?
Who is next? Who has a clear claim? Does the FedGov shut down, even more than when there is no spending bill passed? Are the States suddenly released from all obligations because their agent, the FedGov can no longer function? Who has the Football (the nuclear launch control codes)? Is it every State for itself, and quickie alliances? Who authorizes the military to do anything? Will someone – a former president, a former presidential candidate, or some other opportunist – stage a coup? Or try to? Will the permanent bureaucracy continue to function and appoint puppets – a POTUS pro-tem?
The turmoil theoretically could not be limited just to DC. Will some governor (or would-be governor: remember, their elections could also be contested) try to “take the throne” just “for the emergency?” Will they lock down and close the borders of their state? Try to conspire with other, less-populous and powerful states? Bully other states? Or even try to grab national power?
And when the contests drive up the level of “social unrest” what really will happen? Will there be attempts to overthrow municipal and State governments? Or will the States just use the “emergency” to even more firmly entrench their tyranny, just as they used the Pandemic? When the “social unrest” become an excuse to crack down harshly on everyone? Or just those who are NOT engaged in protests? There are many ways to twist the current situation and what might develop in the next five months.
There is evidence that AntiFa and Black Lives Matter are creating and training armed militia special operations forces. Even guerillas in the classic sense. But about all they can really do is terrorize neighborhoods and inner cities.
The alt-right groups have been accused (with some validity) of creating armed units to do the same thing. For example, there are the “Boogaloo Bois” – a supposedly anti-government group: members just arrested by the FBI and charged for aiding Islamist Hamas, according to KMGH-TV. They supposedly WANT a civil war: a shooting kind.
But the real threat to peace is police forces. The more police across the Fifty States are attacked physically and vilified, the more a bunker mentality will develop. And the more likely police are to break restraints and control by “civilian” authorities. At the same time, knowing they are dependent on their “civilian” governing authorities for funding (and legitimacy), the temptation to conspire with some members of local commissions or councils to stage coups against their fellows may nigh be irresistible. Chaos at the “top” of the governmental pyramid might trigger all kinds of panic in law enforcement. But that is NOT going to become some national movement: they don’t have the ability or desire to do more than protect themselves.
The military? The senior leadership is compromised. Even those molded in the era of Obama (and even Bush II) still are steeped in the doctrine of civilian supremacy. They may act very clandestinely, but in very limited ways, to “aid civilian authority” (of their political leaders’ choosing, of course). And they will be primarily focused on external threats and the vast deployed numbers of troops who must be supported (or even returned home). Despite many fears of some vast military coup, the leaders (and their troops) understand that would just make matters worse if they get involved.
Foreigners? Will it be Red Dawn? Russian, or Chinese, or EU troops taking over? Sorry, but don’t be silly. No matter how stupid, that is both unlikely – and if some idiot tried, it would fail within days if not hours.
So bottom line? Don’t worry. Even if it takes weeks or months to sort out who is “in charge,” life will go on. Our current civil war will continue. Without government agencies, people will work around it. We won’t run out of food, we won’t run out of electrical power or gasoline, and the roads won’t be destroyed overnight. No chaos, most places.
Indeed, we might find out things run a LOT more smoothly if we aren’t constantly worried and hassled by government goons and the screaming rage of politicians. If there is an Inauguration Day crisis, just turn off your TV, radio, and internet news feeds, take a deep breath, and… enjoy life.