Most experts on national and foreign policy would likely agree that Tom Head, the Texas Judge who suggested a win by Obama in November may lead to an invasion of Texas by the United Nations, is wrong.
While Judge Head, an elected judge in Lubbock, Texas, has received flak for his suggestion that the county should raise taxes in order to arm up the local constabulary in case the state should be attacked, his fears about civil unrest aren’t isolated.
In fact, they’re widely enough shared that some Americans believe the US government has, in fact, put military contingency plans into effect should the results of the election rile up extremists on the losing side.
Those concerns were fueled earlier this month when Col. Kevin Benson of the US Army's University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., published a theoretical paper in "Small Wars Journal" positing the response of the US government to an extremist militia fueled by tea party sentiments taking control of Darlington, S.C.
Thanks to a stubbornly poor economy and philosophical – some would say foundational – high stakes apparent in the presidential election, it’s clear from political blogs, letters to the editor, and word on the street that tensions are running high in the country, and that extends to politics. The recent shooting of a guard at the conservative Family Research Council by a gay rights activist supports that.
“The American people are so hot and so angry that it would not take much to set off a raging political fire,” columnist Michael Snyder writes on Hawaii News Daily website.
Although civil unrest is always possible (check out this long Wikipedia list here), there is very little reason to believe any of the doomsday “civil war” scenarios trotted out by people like Judge Head will actually come true.
Today’s stakes, though substantial, are not of civil-war caliber. Whether Obama or Romney is elected in November, chances are great that the workings of the Constitution will temper any revolutionary strains, as it has since the end of the Civil War.
Take, for example, the tension between the Obama administration and Texas – and, yes, there are a few beefs there, ranging from emergency aid for wildfires to voter ID. Those disagreements, despite the polarization and heated rhetoric, are being worked out in the place the Founders intended: the courts and the electoral system. Houston, Dallas and El Paso remain calm.
At the same time, there are growing worries among so-called sovereign citizen radicals and other extremist groups – on the left as well as the right – that the Republic is teetering on a precipice. One reason for recent gun-buying sprees and the spread of concealed carry licenses is in preparation for defense against unspecified “government tyranny,” Second Amendment experts say.
In the American West, fears about “black helicopters” manned by covert world government troops have simmered for decades – a testament, perhaps, to the US government’s military research complexes that dot the high plateaus as well as the physical distance from Washington, far enough that conspiracies can sometimes fester unchallenged, becoming, in the process, culturally ingrained.
On the left, some worry that if Romney wins amid claims of “voter suppression” in key states, that could cause violent street protests. It was only last fall when “Occupy” protesters clashed violently with police in Oakland, Calif., a scene replete with tear gas, riot gear, and angry protesters wearing bandannas across their faces.
And of course, the Wild West of the modern media is there to stir things up, as well.
Last week, the federal government scurried to tamp down rumors about government agencies such as the Weather Service buying tens of thousands of rounds of hollow-point bullets – news that some took to mean that bureaucrats were arming up against the prospect of unrest should Obama be reelected. It turns out that it wasn’t the weather service, but NOAA – which has dozens of armed officers that patrol the nation’s fishing grounds – and several other agencies that order bullets up annually for routine training.
Sure, societal collapse scenarios do play on the minds of the nation’s military. In 2008, the US Army War College prepared a theoretical report suggesting that economic collapse is one kind of “domestic shock” that could trigger a domestic military response if civil unrest spreads. In the span since, violent crimes and murder have declined.
Indeed, even in oft-contrarian Texas, Judge Head’s comments were largely met with incredulity.
“There are a lot of unanswered questions here,” Texas Democratic Party chair Gilberto Hinojosa suggested. “Does Judge Head expect the United Nations to come in riding a couple of combines? Does Lubbock also need an Air Force? A Navy? Will the revenues from this tax increase be put into a dedicated account to fight the U.N. invasion? Will the money be returned to taxpayers if the U.N. army doesn’t make it into Lubbock County? What will happen if the Sweetwater militia defeats the vicious blue-beanie peace-keepers before they reach Lubbock?”
Head himself backtracked slightly, suggesting that he was simply mulling a “worst-case scenario.” He ultimately came back to where most Americans stand on the question of a UN attack on Texas and the possibility of post-election civil war: “Do I think those are going to happen? Probably not."