Sedition – Overt action, including speech, intended to create an insurrection against the state or established order.
Anarchy – A society without a governing body
So, yes Virginia, there is sedition afoot and anarchy is upon us.
We are way beyond Joseph Welch’s questioning of Joseph McCarthy – “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” – a question which in 1954 was enough to right the ship of state, reveal the humbug behind the curtain, and restore civility to political dialogue. We saw decency die in 2016, and it will take time to restore it, even if/when the Trump presidency ends.
The assault on the offices of governance has been debilitating, but the more immediate concerns is that the President of the United States has attacked the one seemingly unassailable practice in this nation, the peaceful transfer of power following an election. The recent arrest of militias seeking to incite a second Civil War is not a footnote in the relentless march toward the usurpation of government, but a truly terrifying indication of the effect a reckless, self-serving president has had in a nation once considered immune from fascism and banana republic violence. Trump is doing all that he can to subvert the election process, not merely asserting that elections are rife with fraud but encouraging those who believe as he does to arrive in force at polling stations, a “Trump Army” clearly intended to intimidate voters and assure re-election. He has conspired with foreign powers to supply fuel for his campaign, set his lapdog administration loose to prosecute and defame his political rivals, and in a Presidential Debate, as Commander-in-Chief, encouraged insurrection should he not be returned to office. The direction given a white supremacist militia to “Stand back and stand by,” is not simply the latest and least thinly disguised provocation of violence among his most extreme supporters, but an unvarnished preparation for the shedding of blood as his tribe is no longer bound to accept the outcome of a national election.
Much has been written about the Republican’s Senate’s unwillingness to hold this president accountable or in check. In this instance, if honor and conscience do not emerge in the Senate, if the Justice Department fails to protect the rights of voters, if armed militias rise in insurrection, the President of the United States will have failed to protect the nation. As of this moment, he is the radicalizer-in-chief, the voice of insurrection, and, we have reason to fear, the agent of sedition.
As to anarchy, wiith the encouragement of shameless jokester jackals such as Roger Stone and Steve Bannon, the President of the United States has gutted virtually every agency of government, appointing to his cabinet plutocratic pals who share his contempt for the ordinary operation of government, or, in the case of the Justice Department, who consider personal loyalty the principle by which the agency is directed. Political favors have been liberally sprinkled by most administrations, perhaps most frequently in the appointment of wealthy donors as ambassadors, the more generous the donor, the more prestigious the appointment, but the Department of State, made up of career professionals, did the heavy lifting, and the operation of government was secure. The administration’s hiring freeze, however, left many offices under-staffed, the firing of watchdogs and whistleblowers added to the diminution of the department’s ability to operate in the interest of the nation’s security, and extra-legal operations, such as the eight billion dollar sale of arms to Saudi Arabia are not uncommon. It is no longer surprising that the President’s appointment to the office of the Secretary of the Interior is a former lobbyist for the oil industry, but the less visible assault on ordinary and necessary functions of government are the number of appointments requiring Senate confirmation that have gone without nomination or have been left unfilled. These include significant positions in Cabinet Level departments such as Homeland Security, Justice, Transportation, Education, Commerce, Environmental Protection, and Defense.
The agencies of government, established bureaucracies characterized as The Deep State by the President and unelected advisor Steve Bannon, currently indicted for money laundering and mail fraud, represent a threat to the President’s ability to “govern” as he sees fit, primarily by obstructing thePresident’s will and by leaking information the President does not want made public. The unanticipated obeisance given the President by a compliant Senate has removed the practice by which a president might receive advice and consent, effectively eliminating the most significant check on the executive office. Historians will have a hard time finding evidence of Congressional efficacy in the past four years, but they will discover that in the first eight months of 2020, the President issued fifty executive orders, many of which could be construed as convenient shouting points in the reelection campaign and essentially unenforceable.
One significant purpose of a national election is in passing judgment on the work done during the incumbent’s term in the office of the presidency. An insurrection preventing that process or the violently prevention of the victor’s succession in that election is sedition. The Republican Senate has shown itself unwilling to take responsibility in curbing the President’s will. The courts have no authority to end the madness. Should the unthinkable happen, the last line of defense is the military establishment led by men and women who have sworn to obey the orders of their Commander-in-Chief. We’ve seen many officers of stature step forward in retirement, and sense that their opinions are shared by those still on active duty. Should the rule of law be abridged and democracy trampled, would the military step away from the fray or act to secure the nation? They may well be our last hope.