As January 20 draws ever closer, there are increasing calls among President Donald Trump’s most fervent (and violent) fans for him to invoke an 1807 law, deploy the military, impose martial law, and assure himself a second term in office through brute force.
According to Politico, many of the most hardcore Trump supporters are recommending that Trump use the Insurrection Act and rule as an absolute dictator:
“The law, the Insurrection Act, allows the president to deploy troops to suppress domestic uprisings — not to overturn elections.
“But that hasn’t stopped the act from becoming a buzzword and cure-all for prominent MAGA figures like Sydney Powell and Lin Wood, two prominent pro-Trump attorneys leading efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and even one North Carolina state lawmaker. Others like Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser who was recently pardoned for lying to the FBI, have made adjacent calls for Trump to impose martial law.”
What is the Insurrection Act?
The act gives a president the authority to send military troops into an area for the purpose of putting down rebellions or violence. Such actions are normally prohibited under the U.S. Constitution, which has specific rules stating that the military may not be used to enforce law in the country.
The Insurrection Act has been used sparingly over the centuries, i.e. during the Civil War, against the Ku Klux Klan, and in extremely violent labor disputes. But it was never intended as a stopgap measure for a president to remain in office against the will of the voters.
Fears of the “Deep State”
Those loyal to Trump argue that Democrats are attempting a “coup” against the incumbent president and claim that gives him the right to take extraordinary measures:
“The central theme here is that there supposedly exists a network of nefarious actors trying to undermine Trump and destroy the United States, and that this is a tool that Trump could use to save the day,” said Jared Holt, a research fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab, who focuses on far-right extremism.
But the real purpose of all the current heat and light around using the Insurrection Act seems to be nothing more than a political desire to keep Republicans stirred up and angry, especially with the Georgia Senate runoffs a couple of weeks away:
“The point, however, might just be to have the Insurrection Act as a talking point to keep the MAGA movement motivated. And Levin, the extremism researcher, feared a darker path if Trump — a man who already speaks in militaristic terms on a regular basis — continued to goad his base into thinking a Biden presidency is an insurrection.”
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