Trump’s Reichstag Fire Drill
“I may declare a National Emergency, dependent on what’s going to happen over the next few days.”
President Trump has a track record of pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable. From his refusal to release his tax returns to his violations of the emoluments clause to his profiting from presidential visits to his own properties, the president tends to get what he wants by doing something outrageous, holding to his position, and before the issue can be reasonably addressed, doing something else outrageous to redirect people’s energy and attention.
Such incrementalism is noted at the Holocaust Museum as emblematic of how, in a remarkably short amount of time, Adolf Hitler took Germany from a democratic republic to a nation where the government rounded up groups of the country’s own citizens and exterminated them. The latter was not Hitler’s stated agenda initially, but bit by bit, he moved the nation to that place.
The largest catalyst for Hitler’s consolidation of power was an event called the Reichstag Fire. In the middle of the night on February 23, 1933, an arson fire started in the German Parliament. In response, the the next day, the German government passed the Reichstag Fire Decree, suspending many of the rights of the German citizenry on an emergency basis. The emergency decree remained in effect throughout World War II. This decree, and the accompanying claim of extraordinary circumstances requiring extraordinary measures, enabled Hilter to incrementally accomplish things that the Germany’s democracy would not otherwise have accepted.
The United States has its own equivalent of a Reichstag Fire Decree, ready to implement in the event of a national emergency. Once the President declares the United States to be in a “state of emergency,” a number of changes take place. Among them are:
- Executive Order #10995:
Seizure of all communications media in the United States.
- Executive Order #10997:
Seizure of all electric power fuels and minerals, public and private.
- Executive Order #10999:
Seizure of all means of transportation, including personal cars, trucks or vehicles of any kind and total control of highways, seaports and waterways.
- Executive Order #11000:
Seizure of all American people for work forces under federal supervision including the splitting of families if the government finds it necessary.
- Executive Order #11001:
Seizure of all health, education and welfare facilities, public and private.
- Executive Order #11002:
Empowers the postmaster general to register all men, women and children in the U.S.
- Executive Order #11003:
Seizure of all airports and aircraft.
- Executive Order #11004:
Seizure of all housing and finance authorities to establish Forced Relocation Designated areas to be abandoned as “unsafe.”
- Executive Order #11005:
Seizure of all railroads, inland waterways and storage facilities, public and private.
(Courtesy of http://www.sweetliberty.org/issues/eo/femalist.htm )
President Trump has suggested that if Congress does not require U.S. taxpayers to pay for the U.S.-Mexico border wall that he had promised that Mexico would pay for, he will accomplish the building of the wall by declaring the U.S.-Mexico border a “National Emergency.” The concept of border crossings – little changed in decades – suddenly being labelled a national emergency is laughable on its face, and hopefully will be met with swift and effective resistance from Congress,.
However, Trump’s suggestion should be of concern.
For him, declaring the border a National Emergency is yet another trial balloon, testing public reaction, and making it just a little more acceptable, expected, and “normal” when, for example, a terrorist attack occurs and he is able to more easily and successfully declare a National Emergency. At that point, he may get his way, and God help us all.
– rob rünt