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November 13, 2016 8:00 am

A Trump Presidency: What Kind of Civil War Do You Prefer?

avatar by Noah Beck

Email a copy of "A Trump Presidency: What Kind of Civil War Do You Prefer?" to a friend
An anti-trump protest in Chicago in March. Photo: Wikipedia.

An anti-trump protest in Chicago in March. Photo: Wikipedia.

There have been about 50 protests against a Donald Trump presidency since the elections last Tuesday, including violent protests for the fifth night in a row, one of which involved a shooting. The US has not seen this kind of political violence and division in decades.

Some in California have started a movement to secede from the union, with serious financial backing from Silicon Valley investors. The movement’s web site notes: “As the sixth largest economy in the world, California is more economically powerful than France and has a population larger than Poland. Point-by-point, California compares and competes with countries, not just the 49 other states.”

Financial markets around the world have shown their highest level of volatility since Brexit.

World leaders and allies have expressed serious concern about Trump and whether his policies and leadership style will be as unhinged as his campaign was. Anti-Trump protests have been held in Germany.

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The few happy reactions to Trump’s electoral success from overseas include jihadists (who are delighted that Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric will bring them new recruits) and Russia (which has now admitted to being in touch with Trump throughout his campaign). In the US, the Klu Klux Klan was also celebrating Trump’s performance; when was the last time the KKK celebrated a major presidential candidate?

Trump has expressed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, doubted basic tenets of the NATO military alliance, suggested Japan and South Korea should develop nuclear weapons and questioned why the US doesn’t just nuke countries. No wonder 50 GOP national security experts, many of them past presidential advisers, warned that Trump “would be the most reckless president in American history” and “put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.”

Moreover, Trump’s business dealings remain a complete mystery to the people who decided he should become the most powerful man in the world. Trump still absurdly claims that he can’t release his tax returns because they’re being audited, even though that bogus excuse has been thoroughly debunked. But Obama can call Trump’s bluff and instruct the IRS to drop the audit of Trump’s tax return — along with any potential fines — on condition that Trump release his tax return to the public. What will his excuse be then? Don’t voters finally deserve the truth about Trump’s wealth, charitable giving, and any ties to Russia and other US adversaries, in keeping with decades of US democratic traditions?

As Douglas Anthony Cooper persuasively argues, the country’s Founding Fathers implemented the Electoral College system precisely in order to avoid a disastrously unqualified (and dishonest) candidate like Trump. Cooper rightly urges responsible Republicans, Independents and Democrats to “write to Republican electors in states that went red, and beg them to vote their conscience. You can download a template for a short petition…on this site. The complete list of relevant electors can be found here, with contact information: United States presidential electors, 2016.”

You can also support this change.org petition with the same goal; in just a few days, the petition has already garnered about 4.5 million signatures.

The case for overturning Trump’s victory is further bolstered by the extent to which Trump lied throughout the campaign — about 70% of his statements have been mostly or totally false, compared to about 26% for Clinton, according to PolitiFact. Trump even lied about facts being recorded by countless cameras (like when he accused Obama of attacking a Trump supporter whom Obama actually defended). This raises another scary thought: if the fear of global public embarrassment at a blatantly exposed lie, the risk of losing an election, and his conscience (if he has one) are collectively insufficient to prevent Trump from lying, how much more untruthful will he be as the most powerful man on Earth?

Trump’s tendency to prevaricate and otherwise deceive voters, along with his anti-transparency refusal to release his tax returns, whose disclosure would have surely destroyed his electoral chances, lead to the undeniable conclusion that Trump essentially defrauded the US electorate. Ironically, Trump’s fraudulent campaign produced the only scenario in which Trump wouldn’t complain about a fraudulent (“rigged”) election. As long as Trump wins, Trump is happy because, for power-hungry autocrats, the ends always justify the means. But the appropriate corrective action is to deprive Trump of his ill-gotten gains before he becomes truly dangerous.

Moreover, according to Newsweek, the unfinished vote count still leaves open the possibility of a Clinton-Trump tie, and Clinton’s concession speech is not legally binding. Whether because of a more accurate and complete vote count and/or because of a massive campaign to get red-state Electoral College electors to dump Trump, if no candidate reaches 270 Electoral College votes in December, it would be up to Congress to decide who becomes president.

Some might worry that pressuring Republican electors in red states to block Trump’s path to the presidency could lead to civil war. But we are already seeing the beginning of civil war and, as we get closer to Trump actually assuming power on January 20, the situation will only deteriorate. So the question is: what kind of civil war is preferable? One that is “managed” by a boorish, power-hungry autocrat with zero experience in forging political consensus, who has incited violence at his rallies, promoted gun ownership, and has little regard for democratic traditions or values? Or a civil war that is managed by someone with a more rational and judicious temperament, who has experience in resolving political differences, and has more regard for the Constitution than his own ego? Hillary Clinton would clearly be too polarizing a figure to manage the civil war. But the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Republicans, would likely opt for third-party candidate Evan McMullin. He may not be what Clinton voters wanted, but he is infinitely better than Trump — both for managing the ensuing civil war, and eventually running the country.

For those not familiar with McMullin’s background, he has extensive international experience, serving as a Mormon missionary in Brazil and a Volunteer Refugee Resettlement Officer in Amman, Jordan. He trained as a CIA agent and repeatedly volunteered for overseas service in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, spearheading counter-terrorism and intelligence operations in some of the most dangerous places on earth. He also has an MBA from Wharton and gained experience in the private sector, before joining the House Committee on Foreign Affairs as a senior advisor and later becoming the chief policy director of the House Republican Conference.

As an added bonus, McMullin has no history of sexually assaulting women; engaging in bigotry against Latinos, Muslims and other minorities; or generally embracing gratuitous insults and vicious hostility towards any perceived opponent. McMullin has also never starred in a porno, or publicly belittled captured war heroes or people with disabilities. Nor has he ever said anything so frighteningly stupid and demagogic as “I alone can fix it” or “I consult myself on foreign policy.” He also doesn’t think that climate change is a “Chinese hoax” (Trump’s policies will exacerbate global warming in truly scary ways).

So, for those keen on preventing Trump from destroying the country (and the world), start contacting red state Electoral College voters.  They vote on December 19. Again, you can download a template for a short petition on this site, and the contact details for the relevant electors can be found here: United States presidential electors, 2016. This is your last chance. 

Noah Beck has published extensively on national security and authored The Last Israelis, an apocalyptic novel about Iranian nukes.

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