We are through the looking glass now.
The current administration’s actions in its first few days in office have shown us that we are now living in an alternate reality.
In this reality, the President can sign an Executive Order that violates the Bill of Rights, and not one of his advisors takes a stand to prevent it. Then even after judges issue stays and injunctions, individual offices of Border Security continue to hold people in custody, in clear violation of their Constitutional rights. And the President, instead of being embarrassed by his mistake, says he wants all of Border Security to defy the courts and carry out his illegal order.
The weeding out of people willing to resist began immediately, with the firing of the acting Attorney-General on Monday. Expect further purges.
What is happening in America?
The system of checks and balances is being tested, so that it can be dismantled. This President will be satisfied with nothing less than total, unfettered power to act however he pleases.
This desire, in itself, in one man, would not be a big problem. Because there are checks and balances.
However, he is surrounded by people who have their own reasons to be frustrated with the constraints of democracy.
Religious bigots who want their prejudices enforced on an entire nation. White supremacists who think “there are too many Asian CEOs in Silicon Valley”. Neo-cons and politicians who are financially dependent on corporations, who find environmental protection and worker’s rights inconvenient.
These people are using Donald Trump’s ruthless persecution of all opposition as a tool to clear the obstacles to their own agendas.
But the obstacles they need to clear away are the very heart and soul of democracy.
Democracy on life support
Democracy has been teetering on the brink for a long time, with “legal” extrajudicial executions of US citizens on US soil allowed by a mere act of the National Security Council. The only thing that has stopped this power being abused until now is the dedication of the Executive to the ideals of democracy, to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
We are now faced with the prospect of an Executive which has no allegiance to democracy, and indeed is actively hostile to the limitations that democracy places on its absolute power.
It is now time to begin to imagine the unimaginable.
In recent years, we have watched the militarisation of police, and seen the military briefed that they will in future be required to fire on US citizens on US soil, if ordered to do so. Someone has been preparing for a long time to deal with mass protests.
Maybe these preparations were made in anticipation of the next great financial collapse. Maybe it was expected that people would take to the streets, as they did in the Great Depression, expressing their anger in riots and the destruction of property.
Or maybe this internal coup has been planned since long before Donald Trump decided to throw his hat into the ring. Maybe the planners of this just took the opportunity he presented to accelerate their timetable.
The probable, almost certain future
What we know for sure is that words, even words backed by the highest laws of the land, mean nothing to this Executive. There will need to be protest, extreme, widespread, and dramatic protest. Government employees will need to refuse to carry out unlawful orders. And many who do refuse will be fired. Protesters will be killed on the streets. Constitutional lawyers and academics will be defined as “enemies of the state”, and imprisoned or assassinated. People will be detained without due process. Every attempt will be made to terrorise the American people into complying with the theft of their democracy.
This is all now unavoidable.
Read that again.
All of this is ALREADY UNAVOIDABLE.
We are faced with two options – either this Executive will get what it wants – unfettered absolute power, OR the American public will make it impossible for the Executive to get what it wants. And that means making the country ungovernable. No lesser path will thwart this Executive.
Again, from the Declaration of Independence:
“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,”
This government will pursue its anti-democratic agenda until the governed withdraw their consent. And then it will try to impose its agenda by force.
The War of Independence all over again
Let there be no mistake – we are now going to have to fight the War of Independence all over again.
“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
Donald Trump is not the cause of this situation – it has been developing for decades. He just presented the movement an opportunity for it to move from the shadows to openly inhabiting the White House itself.
Time to put party politics aside
We are beyond party politics now. Democrats and Republicans alike are having their fundamental Constitutional rights undermined. This is no longer a debate between liberal and conservative viewpoints. This is now a fight to preserve the bare bones of a democracy from a hostile takeover.
There is no point in arguing about the colour of the wallpaper when the house is being bulldozed.
We need help!
The problem the American public faces now is that the enemy, the government, has all the firepower. Second Amendment pistols and shotguns are useless against tanks and rocket launchers.
Even in the War of Independence, when the weaponry on both sides was more evenly balanced, the rebels needed a lot of military support from France to win the war.
But the US has been spending obscene amounts on military hardware for decades. Far more than any other nation. As much as the next 14 military spenders combined. Where could the American people possibly get enough military support to help them overcome the most bloated military apparatus in the world?
Russia? They seem to be deeply involved in the coup.
China? They are definitely the richest nation, and could make a big difference, but at what price?
If the American people don’t get outside help, the chances of escaping dictatorship are extremely slim.
What does all this have to do with the United Nations?
Let’s imagine this was all playing out in some Third World country. A newly-elected government starts ignoring the rule of law, People protest, the protests are violently opposed, people protest more, and ultimately parts of the country openly revolt and refuse to obey the central government. Some parts may even secede.
Now you have civil war.
At this point, the United Nations could offer to broker some kind of peace process, to end the slaughter of helpless civilians. If the beleaguered nation agreed, there could then be a United Nations peacekeeping force, tasked with stopping government troops and police from killing and persecuting civilians through the process of holding new elections.
But this could never happen in America.
Because when the United Nations was created, there were five superpowers in the world, and they wanted to be damned sure that the International Human Rights Police couldn’t do anything they didn’t like. So as a condition of creating the United Nations, these five countries were given the ability to veto any United Nations action they didn’t like.
America is one of those five. So if the United Nations decided to send peacekeeping troops, America could just veto it.
Unless America left the United Nations. At that point, America would no longer have the power to veto United Nations actions.
At that point, the entire rest of the world could combine to protect the citizens of the United States from its rogue government, and to oversee new elections.
This might be a bit difficult for the really anti-United Nations factions in America to stomach.
But the alternative is either dictatorship or ongoing civil war.
Can we get out of this without bloodshed?
At this point, the options for peaceful resolution are narrowing rapidly.
If President Trump was either removed or contained (ie not allowed to take any executive action without legal oversight), and all members of the Cabinet pledged their support for the rule of law, the Constitution, and due process, and submitted to legal oversight, this disaster may possibly be contained without too much bloodshed.
But what are the chances of all that actually happening?
Really. Think about it. Think about everything you have seen from this Executive so far. Does it seem likely?
And if it doesn’t happen that way?
Dictatorship. Or civil war. Or help from the international community, and a new government.