During a recent White House meeting, President Trump floated the idea of instituting martial law to reverse the November election’s highly questionable result. At least that is what The New York Times claimed. When it comes to reporting anything Trump, of course, the Times is hardly a credible source. Is it “fake news,” then, as the president says, or did he throw the idea out there to his advisors? Though it may well have turned out to be politically suicidal, would calling in the troops be too drastic a step to take?
The whole story appears to have originated from comments made by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Speaking with Newsmax‘s Greg Kelly on Dec. 17, Flynn described a scenario in which the president could use the military to force a “rerun” of the election in the disputed battleground states.
Michael Flynn’s Proposal
“He could order, within the swing states if he wanted to,” Flynn said, “he could take military capabilities and basically rerun an election each in those states.” It is not easy to see how that situation would play out. From a purely logistical point of view, it would be an almost impossible feat to pull off. Then again, one should not underestimate the capabilities of the U.S. military.
The real problem, assuming for a moment that Flynn’s proposal was carried out and resulted in a second term for the president, is that Trump would find himself with very few friends left in Washington. Almost every Republican on Capitol Hill would perhaps recoil in horror at the very idea. They are not, after all, the nation’s Founding Fathers, who, given the current state of affairs, would likely believe swift and drastic action is warranted.
As for the Democrats, well, it is not necessary to speculate about their feelings on the subject. Thus, Trump would probably find himself impeached in short order – and this time, Senate Republicans would not come to his aid.
What Would the Founders Do?
There certainly are those among the president’s allies and supporters who believe that he should take measures to ensure that the election result as it currently stands does not endure. And perhaps the true test of a nation’s character is how it deals with a political crisis so monumental that it threatens to alter the future forever. Most people, though, simply do not have the stomach for extreme measures. The Founders understood this – even acknowledging it in the Declaration of Independence: “[A]ll 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 the Founders understood that, for the sake of preserving liberty, there comes a time to take action:
“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.”
Yet the president himself asserts that he has not spoken of instituting martial law. On Sunday, Trump tweeted simply: “Martial law = Fake News. Just more knowingly bad reporting!”
Whether the commander in chief did bring up the subject, then, will perhaps remain a matter of whom one chooses to believe. Even if such a measure were feasible, the pasty, establishment jellyfish of Washington would never forgive him for it. In truth, America is now beyond recounts or reruns. The evidence of fraud so far produced has not moved the courts to question the result of the election. Unless something even more compelling is quickly revealed, it is now left to the American people to either accept the outcome or not accept it.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.