If the Election Produces No Clear Winner, the Military Is Definitely Not the Answer
Last month, retired generals John Nagl and Paul Yingling wrote an open letter to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Milley claiming that the military ought to be ready to intervene to remove Donald Trump from the presidency if he loses.
But there’s a problem here. If Biden is clearly the winner, the odds are close to zero that Donald Trump is going to refuse to leave the White House quietly. Thus, in the scenario imagined by Nagl and Yingling, outside intervention—military or otherwise—is unlikely to be necessary at all.
Moreover, in his article “The Generals Won’t Save American Democracy,” Fred Kaplan at Slate states what should be obvious: if Biden is the clear winner, virtually all of the Washington bureaucracy—both civilian and military—will hand over power to Biden.
What If the Outcome Is Unclear?
The problem arises when the outcome is more murky, and that’s precisely when we definitely don’t want the military involved.
Consider a hypothetical situation: election night comes and goes, but it is unclear who the winner is. Several states report fraud, “irregularities,” or other problems that cast doubt on the presidential vote in several states. A multitude of lawsuits ensue.
Conceivably, all the legal decisions may not even be resolved by late January. Or maybe all the courts have ruled but a sizable portion of the public refuses to accept the outcome.
Shall the military then essentially “pick the winner” by siding with one candidate or the other? This would be a dangerous precedent to say the least, and it would invert the order envisioned by the Constitution itself: military officers would themselves pick their civilian commander-in-chief.
In a crisis situation such as this, it is clear the authors of the Constitution—and the Americans of the nineteenth century as well—wisely preferred a civilian-guided outcome of some kind. Historically, in times when general elections do not produce an obvi
Article from Mises Wire