One attention-grabbing story last week provided a shred of wisdom ultimately from an unlikely source: John Podesta. He participated in a war game hosted by the left-wing Transition Integrity Project, a group few had heard of until its mention in a recent NYT article by Steele dossier publisher Ben Smith. The group from its outset has presented a one-sided look at the very real challenges to the peaceful transfer of power our divided nation faces. While their biases are clear and present, their war game did yield some valuable insight, even if not of the manner they anticipated.
The nugget from Podesta – and relayed in the article by Smith – posits a scenario in which neither presidential candidate concedes and three states threaten to secede if Trump is deemed the rightful president-elect. It also touches upon several other outcomes that, outside of this column, have been widely unremarked upon but are not unlikely, such as a maneuver to insert a popular vote into the election process as a post-facto competing legitimacy metric. The secession scenario in particular, and the others, are important for several reasons:
First, they show the mainstream media is starting to give a mature, if belated and biased, treatment to the potential for historic, union-testing unrest not many days away. That we are headed for a contested election with potentially dramatic, unalterable consequences is coming into clearer view.
Second, it shows the vulnerabilities of the transfer of power process in a bitterly divided nation, not only in determining a winner of the executive branch contest but in granting the federal government legitimacy.
Third, and most important, it makes clear that we may have already reached a point where the constraints of our political union are no longer deemed acceptable by a significant enough percentage of the population to end the union as-is. That’s not hyperbole. It wasn’t when I first wrote that here months ago, and it isn’t now. To live in a country in which one of the two political parties embraces a set of materialist, positive rights is to have lost the consensus for the Bill of Rights or their continued existence absent some alteration. To live in a country in which the sophisticated coastal elites may simply no longer willing to abide by the constraints placed on them by fellow citizens who don’t have the media elite, pop culture, and academia on their side is to have lost the will for union. To live in a country where a large enough number of people simply won’t consent to another Republican presidency is the path to disunion, insurrectionists without a coup.
You, the few and noble readers of my column, know this already because I’ve detailed it for months. But that foreknowledge makes the challenge no less severe. We have seen this wave coming, and not stopped it. The word Occupy means something. The word Resistance means something. The number of governors and mayors who clamp down on the First and Second Amendments while rejecting federal primacy over immigration policy means something. In that latter trend, we’ve normalized the rejection of the constitutional deal that their states made when they entered our union and have amended previously only through widespread consensus.
In the past few years, we’ve seen attacks on federal outposts of ICE, harassment and intimidation of federal employees at their homes and in public, and a fortunately yet to spread small-scale territorial uprising in Portland that ended in a federal retreat. The utopians will not be deterred from their aims, and what the NYT article describes cumulatively are destabilizing scenarios in which the Left gets their way via the ballot box or subverts the system as necessary to do so. Long term, they are planning to get their way via the existing system or they will exit
Shake yourselves now free of the notion that absent a landslide we’ll simply see some legal challenges in a few swing states. The crisis we had hoped could be delayed or avoided may be approaching sooner than thought, as the great question is whether our fellow citizens are willing to remain in our existing constitutional system. And, finally, commit yourselves anew to our political union, and declare yourself a Remainer.