The military won’t save us from Trump

The dread that Trump might steal the election or he might not leave if he loses went from what if three cups of coffee and an episode of the Handmaid’s Tale anxiety fantasy, to HOLY FUCKING SHIT WE ARE ABOUT TO HAVE GODDAMN PANZERS IN THE FUCKING STREET TOMORROW this week.

Yes, the threat is very real. The Reichstag isn’t on fire yet, but Trump is stuffing his tiny hands full of kindling and shoving them in all the nooks of the buildings. He smells like gasoline, and not just from his petroleum based orange glow or the salve he puts on his syphilitic sores, but because he said twice, TWICE, this week that he would not commit to a peaceful transition of power.

The hand wringing ensued. The statements and rebukes from the Democrats saying how dare he, and a tweet from the Republican gollum whom we already know we can’t trust. Are we surprised though? Have we not seen the warning signs since before the election? Has it not gotten especially scary the last few months?

The other day a friend told me, well, if there was a coup, if Trump wouldn’t leave office, wouldn’t the military remove him? Wouldn’t they stop the coup? The military doesn’t like Trump, he said, he called them “suckers” and “losers,” surely they will defend us and the constitution in our time of need.

The military protect democracy? You can ask Egypt, Pakistan, and Thailand, how that is going for them. Asking the military to protect democracy is like asking a nine-year-old to guard a bowl of Halloween Candy — sure that bowl will still be there, and maybe a couple of stale Tootsie Rolls, BUT ALL THE REESES WRAPPERS WILL BE ON THE FLOOR AND THERE WILL BE PEANUT BUTTER AND CHOCOLATE ALL OVER THEIR FACE (You said I could have a couple…). If we are expecting our democracy to be protected by the military, our democracy is lost.

The military will not save democracy. That is not their role. Fight for independence? Two if by sea, King George. Bring the Union back together? These dead did not die in vain. Invade foreign countries? Remember the Maine, 54'40 or Fight, Remember the Alamo, Remember 9/11, Why did we invade Grenada, I could go on. Transfer power? Get involved in the business of governing? No, the Department of Defense is controlled by civilians, and the Commander-in-Chief is our civilian president. It was set up this way to prevent a Gaddafi or Pinochet style coup. We elect our leaders, and those leaders must face the wrath of the people in elections.

If Trump is smart, he won’t involve the military in whatever nefarious plan he has to seize power and have a Moscow-sized golden shower all over the Constitution. And if the military is smart, they will stay far, far, away before Trump purses his herpes-laden lips and slobbers all over them like a plate of room service nachos at Mar-A-Lago — the nacho cheese sauce is the true source of his orange glow.

Here are three scenarios involving Trump and the military and how they could go:

  1. Trump invokes the Insurrection Act and asks the military to intervene

In this scenario, Trump declares victory on Election Night after early results show him ahead, but before millions of absentee ballots are counted. This drives protesters into the street as the Trump campaign launches lawsuits to stop ballot counting and coerces Republican state legislatures to certify a Trump win, election results be damned. The protests become massive, chaotic, and violent as armed pro-Trump gangs take to the streets as well.

Trump invokes the Insurrection Act of 1807 to put down the massive protests against his seizure of power. While generals initially balks at the request, seeing how the military’s reputation could be permanently damaged by intervening after the election, Trump insists. Several generals resign, making a grand show of it, but eventually Trump finds someone to follow orders.

That’s one of the keys of this scenario. Dictators always find someone to follow orders. For whatever reason, desire for power, or wealth, or true belief in the cause of Trumpism, Trump will find someone to carry out the orders. And when those orders come down the line, the soldiers and marines on the front lines will follow them.

One of the main things they teach you in bootcamp in the military — or at least what they taught me in the Marines — is the instant obedience of orders. You don’t ask questions. You don’t discuss. You don’t put it up for a vote. You get the order and you carry it out. Sure, there will be some smart asses out there who will question why they are doing what they are doing. Some will feel weird being deployed to their hometowns and states. Heck, some might even desert, but there will still be enough tanks in the street for Trump to solidify power.

The problem for this scenario is the military loses all legitimacy. It will take decades, if not centuries, for the public to trust or support their military again. There will be genuine hatred for the military in large swaths of the country. You can kiss all those we support the troops stickers and free Veterans Day microwaved steak meals at Applebees goodbye. The military knows it took decades for America to love its military again after Vietnam and Kent State, and it does not want to be in that position again.

2. The Biden camp asks the military to remove Trump from power

Biden wins a convincing victory. Despite some conflicts here and there, anyone with a reasonable grasp of reality and truth understands Biden won the presidency. However, Trump poops his Depends shuffling down some stairs in the White House and refuses to leave, going on his usual this is A FRAUD, A SHAM, I AM THE GREATEST COLONLESS MAN TO EVER GRACE THE THRONE IN THE LINCOLN BEDROOM, CAN SOMEONE TURN UP TUCKER CARLSON ON FOX NEWS I CAN’T HEAR HIM OVER THE SOUND OF LOU DOBBS FELLATING ME.

This situation, in other times, would have probably been chalked up to a mental health crisis, a cry for help from a sad lonely man entering the last stages of syphilis when all he wanted was some treatment for his gout. It would have been sad day for the Republican Party, but Kayleigh McEnany would have come up with some lie or excuse for the briefing room as Trump was ferried down to Florida to live out the rest of his days in exile slurping Metamucil and watching VHS tapes of his glory days on Fox News.

Except we know Trump, even with his bone spurs, won’t go that gently out of the White House. He will scream fraud. MAGA-nauts will surrounded the White House. A truly odd constitutional crisis, how do you get a toddler to leave the house when it’s time to go and he’s not accepting a bribe of chicken nuggets? People will say, well maybe we should get the Secret Service or the US Marshals to escort him out, except they are too loyal to Trump as Department of Homeland Security employees, and refuse to act. Bill Barr’s Justice Department will not acknowledge the election results, being the loyal servants of Dear Leader they are.

Machinations in Congress happen, with Republicans and Democrats meeting in separate locations. Chief Justice John Roberts swears in Joe Biden on January 20 in Delaware or California as the constitutional crisis escalates. Biden orders the Army to remove Trump from the White House. Before this happens, Trump gets wind of what he calls a coup. He flees into exile to Florida, but not before the military splits, states threaten secession and an insurgency consumes many states, especially in the south.

Biden is president, but the country is torn into a civil war, the military is torn between which president to be loyal to, losing legitimacy in much of the country. Biden spends most of his first two years attempting to stamp out the Trump insurgency and deal with coronavirus and the economic collapse of a destabilized US currency. America is a failed state.

3. The military stays out of the situation, Federal agents from the Justice Department and Homeland Security finish Trump’s consolidation of power for him

This scenario is the most likely, and if I was Trump and wanted to retain unfettered access to all those White House cheeseburgers, the option I would pick. It’s also the one he’s laid the most groundwork for.

Trump declares victory before all votes have been counted. Trump uses DHS agents deployed to most US cities to quell demonstrations protesting his seizure of the election. The feds have their numbers swelled by mercenaries hired for the moment, and local police federally deputized to back them up. Massive numbers of protesters are arrested, especially organizers surveilled since summer. Mayors and governors find they have little control over their police forces who are federally deputized, as those cops refuse orders to stand down or not cooperate with the feds. Mayors and governors who try to stop the federal agents are arrested by US Marshals with federal warrants.

Trump used his DHS agents extensively the past few months in Portland and other cities. He highlighted them during his long-winded and low energy convention acceptance speech. Their unions endorsed Trump. They know who butters their toast, and they know their loyalty will be rewarded and they are answerable only to Trump. Local police forces around the country, whose unions also endorsed Trump, and have few compunctions about bashing in skulls of protesters with views they disagree with, line up to support Trump too.

The generals stand by and do nothing. Hopeful liberals, including Biden, wait for the military to intervene, after they are let down by the courts, the police, and Congress, but the generals never give the order. They know they will lose legitimacy if they intervene. They are concerned about their own reputations, the reputations of their institutions, and the precedent of no military involvement in elections. They worry about the chaos if they pick a side. They worry about the budgets they will receive depending on which side wins. So they chose to do nothing, because they feel it’s the military’s duty to remain non-partisan and above politics.

Too sad an ending right? There is precedence for this. German Military High Command was no fan of the sweaty, peasant, Austrian corporal with one testicle and a funny moustache, but after the Reichstag building burned under suspicious circumstances, and Hitler solidified his power with the Enabling Act, they did nothing. They waited to see what he would bring. Hitler brought them larger military budgets and visions of conquest and winning back lost lands. Hitler let the military be the military, and the military continued to do what it does best, take orders.

Which brings us back to our military. If Trump wants to stay in power, the military will let him. They will follow his orders. Sure, some officers and generals will resign in protest, enlisted might not reenlist or desert, but he will find people to follow orders eventually, and they will carry them out, because in the military you follow orders. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to refuse an order, and knowledge that it probably won’t end well for you if you do.

Trump will find generals and officers to follow his orders. He will bribe them with larger budgets and they will feel appreciated. He’ll promote the most loyal, and they will love him for it. Trump, unstable as a frat boy after a football game, will tumble his way into a war with his bellicose bluster and petulant charm. This war will be bad and Trump will use the emergency as his excuse to stay in power and extend his term in office beyond four more years.

A war? That’s a bit much, the military won’t want a war you say. They do. As a gunny once told me before we deployed to Iraq for my second time, “You should be thankful a war is going on. You have no idea how boring being in the military is during peacetime.” The dirty secret is, the military loves fighting wars, even if they never say it out loud. And Trump will have one for them, and they will love him for it.

The military is not coming to save us. The Supreme Court is not coming to save you. Joe Biden isn’t coming to save you. Only you, your family, your friends can save you. Vote in November like your life depends on it, and then brace for the weird, and know no one is coming to save us.

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Don Iler

Don Iler

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I’m a public transit enthusiast in Portland, Oregon. I love public transportation, history and writing.