Republished with permission from Steve Schmidt
Donald Trump has made eight promises that are at the center of his 2024 presidential campaign:
- He has promised revenge against his enemies, which include everybody who has dared oppose him.
- He has promised to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1791, and deploy the Armed Forces of the United States of America against the American people for the purposes of crushing protests and dissent. He seeks to declare martial law. Previously, he has inquired about the possibility of the US Military shooting peacefully protesting Americans on his orders.
- He has promised to arrest, harass, prosecute and destroy his political opponents through imprisonment.
- He has promised to pardon the January 6 insurrectionists who sought to destroy the republic and bloodied the peaceful transfer of power, while desecrating the United States Capitol.
- He has promised to withdraw the United States from NATO, which will cause global chaos, and ultimately, the lives of hundreds of thousands of young Americans who will fight the wars caused by the insanity, stupidity and ignorance of men like Trump.
- He has promised to build concentration camps where millions of people will be rounded up for deportation with police state tactics, where uniforms of service are turned into uniforms of brutality and oppression.
- He has promised to fundamentally dismantle the US civil service and competent government so that he may fill it from top to bottom with obedient cronies who will attack the rule of law, the US Constitution, decency, and ultimately, the American people.
- He has promised to cut off the defense of Ukraine, which will escalate Russian aggression and widen the war in Europe.
What is at stake is the peace of the world and the future of freedom in the United States. We will either live in liberty, or be controlled from cradle to grave by the new fascism fueled by a reciprocal extremism that is as equally intolerant, self-righteous, conspiratorial and illiberal. We will either be free, or become the hostages of fundamentalists who come to power with a poisonous mix of populists, cynics, and scores of “little Eichmanns” ready for their 15 minutes of viciousness and power.
There is a question that is elemental. It must be asked repeatedly of the men and women who have worn the uniforms of America’s armed forces at the highest officer and enlisted ranks. What is it that the nation’s four star officers and retired command sergeant majors and command master chiefs have to say about what they would have done if they were ordered to attack the American people as Trump has ordered? Are they ready to open fire? Or, would they refuse the order as unconstitutional and illegal?
It seems to me that this is a very important question and a very real one given it is at the heart of Donald Trump’s campaign. This matter is not a secret and shouldn’t be treated like one. The question must be asked. What would happen?
Would the order be obeyed or refused?
Should it be obeyed, would there be tyranny without resistance in America, or would there be civil war?
Should it be refused, the magnitude of the constitutional crisis would be the greatest since the Civil War and the absolutely greatest since the nuclear age.
Speaking of nuclear weapons, who would have command and control of the weapons if the nation’s military leadership was in revolt? Who would follow whose orders?
How about the captains and executive officers of America’s ballistic missile submarines? What would they do? There are American troops in more than 100 countries. What would happen?
What would happen if, while this was happening, China invaded Taiwan and Iran attacked Israel?
Shouldn’t someone ask?
Just asking. I’d really like to know.
It is important for the country to hear from men like Martin Dempsey, William McRaven, William Mullen, Peter Pace, Richard Meyer, Peter Chiarelli, and their brethren. We must hear from them.
Isn’t it time to say the quiet part out loud?
These questions must be asked because we have arrived at the abyss.
Seven years of Donald Trump and incandescent cynicism, profiteering and cowardice have brought us to this unimaginable moment where such questions must be asked.
The people who let this happen, in some ways, are worse than those who are making it happen. None of this matters now. The election is less than one year away, and Trump is winning this Thanksgiving.
Trump is a philosopher of “fuck you-ism,” with no plan, no vision and no hope for anything beyond his promises of vengeance. There is something important to remember about those types of promises. There has never been a person who promised them who achieved political power and didn’t deliver on it. Ever.
Steve Schmidt is a political analyst for MSNBC and NBC News. He served as a political strategist for George W. Bush and the John McCain presidential campaign. Schmidt is a founder of The Lincoln Project, a group founded to campaign against former President Trump. It became the most financially successful Super-PAC in American history, raising almost $100 million to campaign against Trump's failed 2020 re-election bid. He left the group in 2021.