I had a passing thought the other day, and figured you’d be the best to answer it. After all, you’re the undisputed master of control-seizing and gut-booting.
What’s to prevent a president (or anyone, really) from seizing power in a South American-style coup? Surely there’s more than a sign in the presidential bathroom saying “Thou shalt not seize power”, but I have no idea what else there is. I’m thinking that with a few willing generals and an adequate маскировка it would be imminently possible.
What are your thoughts, your Czaricity?
Well, DT, the Czar does not handle the gut-booting; that would be the Mandarin. The Czar is the up-agin-the-wall guy. But on the control seizing, yes. Thank you.
Your question is a great one, and the subject of much discussion in some paranoid circles. A takeover of the United States government is a topic that falls into two groups of opinion: one group says it is possible, and the fodder for many thriller novels and films. The second group, into which we fall, says it is fortunately damned unlikely, due to the unique construct of the Constitution.
We should not forget that the United States was pretty much set up on the concept of no-single-authority-taking-over. Pretty much everything is set up to prevent it, sometimes in obvious ways, and sometimes in subtle ways.
Here is what you would need to do. First, you need to get elected President. That seems obvious, but wait a second. To be elected, you need to run. To run, you need to be nominated. To be nominated, you need to be accepted by one of the two major political partieswho will do a pretty good job of digging into your psychology. Both the Republicans and Democrats will be careful to watch whether you have a tendency to seize power or to cultivate it. There are exceptions, of course: the Czar believes that the DNC fell pretty hard for Barack Obama, and never bothered to check too deeply to see what kind of leader he might be. They were smitten, and basically ignored a lot of warning signs that are bearing fruit now. In case the reader has not noticed, the President is supported by a majority of Democrats, but behind the scenes he is disliked by many of his colleagues. Food for thought.
Okay, so you get elected. Now, you need to control the legislature…really control them, because you cannot get far without their support on a practical level. Executive orders and interim appointments can be overturned by Congress, and they have some considerable authority to take action to remove orders and personnel if they deem it necessary. Simply having a majority of Congress as part of your partyas the current President doesis far from a guarantee: you need to eliminate the Congress entirely (which Wilson flirted with), or somehow get and sustain a two-thirds majority. That is exceedingly difficult.
But let us say you find a way to own Congress completely. Are you done? Not quite: you need to control one more group. The Supreme Court, right?
Actually, no. If you are talking about a hell-bent crazy would-be dictator, the Supreme Court would not even be a speed bump. They can overturn and condemn all they want: so what, right? No, the third group is the United States military.
And contrary to popular fiction, the military would be exceeding difficult to control, even as commander-in-chief. The Department of Defense is organized in a fairly clever fashion: you would have to overpower the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, and the Marines each and individually. Good luck with that. Whattaya gonna do? Take the Secretary of Defense hostage? Take mental control over the Joint Chiefs?
What you would need to do is find Chiefs of Staff totally loyal to you in each branch. Except, that wont last long. A rival general or admiral will quickly catch on to what you are doing, and even if you swayed those guys by the dozens (you would need a helluva lot more than a few)…someone would still figure out your game plan. You may recall the Oath of Enlistment, in which a member of the United States Armed Forces is duty bound to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against domestic enemies. Yes, the oath also requires obeying the President of the United States, but that requirement comes much further down. The Constitution of the United States has priority of defense over the President. This is not by accident. It is a carefully planned positioning based on this very notion: if a President violates his oath of office, the military must protect the Constitution against his actions. And the Oath of Office for officers makes no such decision necessary: an officers job is to protect the Constitution no matter what.
So eventually, the military will stop you. It will become their job when the rogue President threatened the Constitution. But even if you could do it, you have not come close to succeeding.
You still have to overpower each of the 50 states. The National Defense is not going to be readily able to do it for you. Governors and state legislatures can disrupt your plan on a state-by-state basis, which happened in 1861 for different reasons. The situation there was one of secession: but it demonstrates exactly how poorly the federal government would be able to control states electing to move in a different direction. It is a brilliant counter to such a plan.
So as you see, it would be a massively difficult operation for one person to take control over the United States in any meaningful or effectively practical way. No, the better approach is to form a secret society, employ operatives like yourself on a variety of strange tasks, and launch conspiracies that bend public will to our way of thinking. And in case anyone is thinking of doing that, know full well that position has been filled, thank you.