In third-world nations when the civilian government can’t keep things together or satisfy the masses the military often takes over.
So I am wondering, could that happen here in the United States with the congress and administration in a deadlock over politics that has shut down a major portion of the government for a month now?
Not likely and as far as I know not even legally possible (although that last part never stops a determined military in other nations).
We here in the good ol’ US of A have a constitution that puts the military clearly under the direction of the civilian government, with the president designated as Commander-in-Chief over the military. I think that role is sometimes confused. I don’t believe it means that he personally directs the troops or the maneuvers of war, rather he is in charge of policy that guides their actions.
While some presidents have gone as far as personally approving individual bombing raids, i.e., Lyndon Johnson in Vietnam (Nixon too?) — I don’t think that is correct. Every situation is different I suppose.
So anyway, there is supposed to be, pardon the use of this word in its current context, a wall between politics (the fight over issues and public policy) and the military.
But President Trump has burst through that wall. He dispatched the military down to the southern border clearly as a political move to bolster his specious notion of an imminent invasion. We may indeed have an immigration problem; there is no evidence of an armed invasion or what would rightly be called an invasion of any kind. The usual occurrence of people slipping illegally over the border (and yes some could be incidentally armed although most not) has not developed into an armed invasion or even threatened to do so, not meaning the prudent security measures should not be taken. But the Great Wall of Trump seems a bit much and more immigration hot button politics than actual sober policy.
Mr. Trump made a campaign promise to build the wall, meant to appeal to a largely white anti-non-white immigration base. Originally it was to be a solid wall on the border, replacing fences and shutting off gaps. He has implied if he can’t get the backing of congress, read the now Democratic Party-controlled House of Representatives, he will have the military do it — I suppose the Army Corps of Engineers — or at least get funding from the military budget and disaster relief funds to build the wall.
He also fantastically declared Mexico would pay for it, but the Mexican government countered it was not aware that it would and in fact would not. Trump later said he just meant changes in the NAFTA trade agreement would amount to the same thing, to which economic observers point out what anyone would know, that makes no sense whatsoever and would not be the case. I mean even if we made more money by a trade deal we would still expend it on the wall. Something about money being fungible. To me it sounds like buying something on sale you never wanted or needed in the first place.
Trump has now indicated he would settle for something less than walling off the total border length, 2,000 miles (it already is mostly fenced anyway).
The Republican president accuses his Democratic opponents of being anti-border security. But at the same time, curiously, he points out that in the past they have supported increased security on the border, including fencing and, yes, a wall of some sort.
In his ever-changing rhetoric Trump sometimes alludes to a “steel” fence or wall as a possible alternative. But with him all things are ephemeral.
It can be said that although for its part, the Democratic Party likely favors border security as much as the Republicans, some within the party don’t mind the idea of people somehow making their way in, legally or otherwise, and signing up on the Democratic voting rolls (well legally once they become eligible). I mean it is supposed most would tend to gravitate to the political party that appears more friendly to their interests.
Also, current Democratic voters of Hispanic origin tend to have sympathy or empathy for immigrants, even illegal immigrants, although not all. Some feel that they had to do it the legal way, why not them (the illegals)?
But this political impasse over who gets to come out looking good and stronger has resulted in what is becoming a dangerous governmental shut down situation, with thousands of people missing paychecks and thousands more who sell them things or provide services or hold their mortgages being shorted too. It is a hit to the economy.
Of even more immediate consequence it is a threat to air safety, with TSA inspectors thrown off the job or being expected to work without pay and deciding to call in sick. Other public safety measures are at threat and even the federal judicial system is facing a shut down for lack of funds. And those who want government services, loans, disaster payments, contract work and so on are affected.
The powers that be were wise enough to make sure the IRS would be able to process tax refunds, which so many Americans depend upon as a non-interest bearing savings account (strange, but easier to get money back all at once than to have to pay up front I guess).
As I understand it most government employees will get their back wages when and if this ends, but like a car repair guy once told me when I asked if he could wait for his money — the grocery store wants it now.
And meanwhile, the president is also making political appeals to the troops, by speechifying to them in the war zone and blaming the Democrats for not being on the team. He also hands out or at least signs those red MAGA caps he uses in his political campaign for them. And he has criticized retired generals. It is all against protocol but he has no regard for that.
Reports are that while being constrained from making public remarks many of the current military brass are concerned about Trump’s behavior. He makes surprise military decisions on a whim without even consulting them, such as withdrawing from Syria. And then pulls back a little on that the next day or so.
Now the impasse could be resolved immediately if one side just offered a logical compromise. Niether side has been willing. It is politics.
The military is constrained from coming to the rescue by the Constitution and its own loyalty to our democratic (small d) values.
But Trump is not.
Seeing that, if things got worse…
Was just ruminating. I in no way think a military coup would be desirable. I do think President Trump and the state of our national politics (from both of the major parties) serves as an existential threat to our democracy and position in the world.