More Popular Than Democracy: An American Coup D’état

If you woke up tomorrow morning to find that the President of the United States had been arrested, Congress had been disbanded, and you now lived under the rule of a military dictatorship, how would you feel? Elated? Frightened? Angry? Indifferent? Would you rise up and fight? According to a recent poll by YouGov, 29% of Americans could imagine supporting the U.S. military taking over the powers of federal government. That number increased to 43% when they were asked this in the context of the military doing so if “the federal government began to violate the Constitution,” a condition which arguably has existed since the ratification of the document.

More Popular Than Democracy: An American Coup D'état

More Popular Than Democracy: An American Coup D’état

Consider this against the election turnout in 2012. Only 57.5% of eligible voters even showed up to vote, and only 51.1% of them voted for Obama. Add to this that many voters feel they are simply voting for the lesser of two evils, and an American coup d’état, might well be more popular than democracy itself. 

If you are like me and consider the current state of affairs to be wholly intolerable, this might come as good news to you. Unless you are also like me in the sense that you actually thought it through for a moment. The people in this poll are not advocating that the State be abolished or even cease to interfere in their business. They are not even advocating that the constitution be obeyed, as there is no provision of the constitution where the military can overthrow the civilian authorities. They are simply saying they prefer a government run by force without the illusion of choice provided by elections.

One might also keep in mind the poll makes no mention of what policy the military might implement. The laws may stay the same, or be completely re-written. The foreign entanglements might end, or we might find ourselves engaged in global thermonuclear warfare. All the poll reflects is who those surveyed thought put the best interests of the country ahead of their own best interests. 70% said they thought military officers put the country first, while only 12% said the same of their congressman, and only 17% felt that way about their state politicians. Local politicians had slightly more faith, at 22%.

The lack of faith in politicians might be refreshing, but the blind faith in military should concern sane people. Only 28% of those surveyed said the military should follow misguided orders from civilian authorities, while 46% thought military personnel should follow misguided orders from their military superiors. Change misguided to unconstitutional, and those numbers drop to 18% and 27% respectively. Considering the fact that the military unquestioningly obeys nearly every order handed to it, despite the fact that America has been in some sort of military conflict in near perpetuity without a formal declaration of war since World War II, this would suggest the military has been quite comfortable following misguided and unconstitutional orders. Not the best judgement to entrust a military dictatorship to.

What this poll shows is an alarming ignorance among Americans. More Americans support an American coup d’état, than say the military should obey unconstitutional orders. Since an American coup d’état would be unconstitutional by definition, we have ourselves a case of raw stupidity. Since these are the same people electing this stupid government to power every 2, 4, and 6 years, no wonder things are so bad that people prefer a military dictatorship.

For those Americans who see the problems with the current system, and are willing to forgo the illusion of elections to see it put to an end, I would make another suggestion. Stop trusting the State to keep you safe and free altogether. I include police and military in this statement. The people who obey the orders to murder and oppress you and peoples throughout the world are not going to become kinder when given the power to issue said orders. The history of military dictatorships around the world has not been pretty, and the only reason you think the military is defending your freedom is because of the war propaganda fed to you by the same politicians you now want to violently overthrow.

Freedom and responsibility go hand in hand. If you want the government to be violently overthrown, then you have to take responsibility for it yourself. You cannot simply bid the government violently overthrow itself, and then hope to find yourself living in the land of the free. Not even close. To attain freedom, you will be compelled to do nothing less than to fight back against the government yourself, and by “the government” I include the police and military personnel who fight to defend it. Nothing short of a culture of resistance, a culture where the common people would sooner fight and die than be oppressed, will bring about a free society. Until then, you can expect scam election after scam election to bring you a steady stream of Bushs and Clintons, and the misery and death they bring with them.



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  • marlene

    This is one heck of a fantastic article. I will be referring to it in my comments throughout the internet. Thank you, Mr. Cantwell.

  • Exactly so! There are few will do that, sadly.

  • Viride Faenum

    Interesting article. Long run up to a pointed final paragraph. The main premise is correct that citizens, people, determine the flavor of their government. Overthrowing is a terrible waste of alive people and possibly property damage. Elections won by convincing people that subject x should have policy y to build consensus though costing millions kills few.

    Overthrowing has a downside that the victor are using the same force you seem opposed. The North overthrew the South and took control. Over a hundred years later Mississippi ratified freeing the slaves unfortunately with their fingers crossed. Bigotry is very far from fixed. Force is not the answer.

    Consensus takes time, lots of time, for example the women’s right to vote, civil rights apparently still not locked in, gay rights, and marijuana. You want a better world, actually everybody does, and as you have stated action is necessary. Corporations have found a ‘shortcut’ by drafting law farming it out the the states with necessary bribes and campaign contributions enact law in many states followed by more states then the nation. If your comfortable with the current system’s use of force you can virus your utopia, but without building consensus how long will it last?

    Democracy requires a level of participation, more than just voting, that is often not met. Your goal seems to require more participation, higher cost, how will it be sustained if many can’t be bothered now? Curious.

    • CD

      Read “The Law,” and you won’t be so confused. When the law distorts morality to legalize plunder, this is what you get. Democracy becomes votes for plunder.

    • Coralyn Herenschrict

      You hit on something that gets passed over in the haste to reject conventional processes that are part of the status quo. Consensus building. Doing this under rubric of resistance will get you rejected, vilified, and targeted at best, locked up at worst, either way crushed in the cradle. Doing the same thing under rubric of campaigning for politicians (Ron Paul) or other educational processes is tolerated by current systems of power.

      If you study the American Revolution, you’ll learn widespread societal consensus for liberty was the key deciding factor that was achieved _before_ any inkling of abandoning reflexive kowtowing to British authority. Without such widespread consensus, the British would not have lost key battles where large numbers of the population failed to rally behind them as rightful government, as the British were fully counting on in order to prevail.

      The degree of consensus required for effecting change through elections may or may not be higher than effecting change through alternative means. However change is able to proceed, significantly more consensus is required than we now have. How to grow consensus, by the most effective approach possible in the current state of affairs whatever it may be, should be the strategic focus of the moment.

      • Libertymike

        Elections, themselves, are the very essence of violence.

        • Coralyn Herenschrict

          That is true. And we may use violence in self-defense. As long as we are very mindful and careful about how we do so.

  • KM

    This article is a very important read. A lot of people throughout history have supported change for the sake of change. This is dangerous if the changes supported have not been thought through. I recommend that every American read a book called Compromised: Clinton Bush and the CIA by Terry Reed and John Cummings. That book details massive unconstitutional actions carried out by the CIA and Bush connected criminals involving drug running, money laundering and even a coup attempt against Reagan where a contra resupply plane was intentionally loaded with critical intel and then handed to the communist Sandinistas in the hope of getting Reagan impeached and elevating Bush. Another fantastic book is Silent Coup: The Removal of President, by Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin, which details MASSIVE military spying on president Nixon and also completely outs Washington Post Watergate reporter Bob Woodward, as a far right military intelligence operative. Nothing is as it seems. Lastly, please read Called to Serve by Lt. Colonel Bo Gritz the hero Green Beret who exposed government involvement in the heroin trade. I firmly believe that since Jack Kennedy was killed we have been living under a coup government. Americans who love liberty need to be vigilant.

  • lowell houser

    The right wing supports a military dictatorship 2-1, and for the obvious reason that by and large right wing people go into the military. It’s worth noting that Ron Paul had more military support than any of the rest of the field combined, except in the Marine Corps, where he was popular but his anti-interventionism would get in the way of our going to war, and we are just kinda crazy like that. That’s why there is a deeper root to this inconsistency among those polled

    The reality is that in the mind of the right wing voter, the military is barely part of the government and then only because it has to be. Government pays it, government directs it, but government is corrupt and useless while the military gets it done. Where politicians and diplomats fail, we don’t have that option because if we fail we die. And Americans love their military the way they love their V8s, bigger, way overpowered to start then supercharged, and seldom if ever used to full potential.

    The left looks at the military as just another police force to send hither and yon because, reasons. The right expects the military to be sent somewhere to kill lots of bad people until there are no bad people left, or not sent at all. Both tend to forget that cops and military are different things. Both wear a state issued costume, but that’s where similarities end. Police are trained to push people around and rob them by the side of the road, military is trained to put holes in people. The police bully, the military kills.

    Chris you talk about one day violently overthrowing government at some point when it’s weak enough and there exists a critical mass of enraged desperate people with nothing left to lose and liberty to gain. Problem? The military will kill them, unless you include the military, and then you’ll have no better ally. You want to make an impact in American government right now? Oath Keepers is your best bet.

    • Dennis Wilson

      Why bother to “make an impact in American government”? What a colossal waste of irreplaceable personal time, energy and resources!

      Instead of trying to “stop” the avalanche (think fall of Roman Empire and the similar status of the USA Empire), consider personal secession options and join other like-minded peoples and form small communities for trade and self defense. Free State efforts in Wyoming and New Hampshire are an example, although they suffer from the same problem of working with government, but on a smaller scale.

      Instead of goals which are impossible for you to achieve, such as trying to save or change the corrupt, failing system, think in positive terms which are ENTIRELY within YOUR personal control, such as how to secede at the personal level. Apply those energies toward BUILDING a system that will continue to serve you when the Evil Empire (please don’t make me explain) collapses from its own corruptions.

      Consider forming or joining small personal secession groups or zones. The following are some of the “lifestyle-choices” that Coralyn H (and perhaps even Chris) may be seeking. It takes two people or more to form Voluntary Groups such as Friendships; Marriages; Agorist, Anarcho-capitalist, Anarchist and Survivalist Communities; Objectivist “Galt” Gulches and similar Societies; Redoubts; Family/Community Farms; Free State Groups; Temporary and Permanent Autonomous Zones; Supersedure Zones; Sea Steads; Independent Territories; Private Apartment Buildings; Home Associations and Restricted or Gated Communities, ZEDEs (Zones for Employment and Development of the Economy) and more.

      Formation of such groups begs for (screams for!) an answer to the question: “What *IS* the bare minimum that two people need to agree upon, in order to live together peacefully and productively?”

      For additional things to consider use my article, “The Bare Minimum”, (reconstruct the link below) as a possible starting point to begin some personal brainstorming…:
      tinyurl (dot) com/The-Bare-Minimum

      Dennis Wilson
      Signatory: Covenant of Unanimous Consent

  • Coralyn Herenschrict

    Thank you. You are spoiling us with this rash of articles about aggression and responses to it. Succulent morsels. Wincing for the next drop of Cantwell-lifestyle-choice articles. Please, just stay in this zone, just a little longer.

    “What this poll shows is an alarming ignorance among Americans.”

    This is to the heart of things. Yes, there is profound dissatisfaction. That’s a good first step. But they are so stupid they wrap all the way back around to endorsing a military dictatorship. They still insist they must be violently ruled. This is no freedom. This is no rallying cry. These are no allies in their current state. Next step, let’s talk about how to address this teeny weensy problem.

    • Tyler Hurson

      Exactly. The most important takeaway from this article is that people desire to be ruled. America, like all other countries, will never be transformed into Ancapistan by its own volition. Statists must either be tricked into accepting freedom or be forced into accepting freedom, the latter obviously being off the table.

      All Libertarians must sooner or later face the fact that liberty is not inevitable. We must work outside the system if a free society is to exist beyond niche communities.

      • Libertymike

        Why is the latter method obviously off the table? If A uses or attempts to use force against B, does not B have the right to force A to accept A’s liberty, even to the point of rounding up A and all of A’s supporters and exterminating them?

        • Tyler Hurson

          By ‘force to be free’ I mean kidnap statists and place them in schools that pump them full of non-stop liberty propaganda.

  • Falcon195

    A military coup would trade an incompetent fop for a tribunal of trained killers. Our constitutional republic depends entirely of our founding documents and a body politic with a mind to uphold them. We need Godly voters, not martial law.

    • Rothbardian Slip


      I’ll get right on that.

    • Dennis Wilson

      IF–repeat–IF there were any military leaders “of sound mind”, they were very likely replaced during Obama’s purge of the upper ranks.

  • We are fucked!

  • Brooklyn Dave

    Definitely liked the article. Most people are at a point where they are totally disgusted by the status quo. They are not thinking of where it may lead. Will we have an increase or a decrease of freedoms. I would consider myself somewhere between a paleo-con and a libertarian, with a big dab of alt right thrown in. Crazy mixture, I know. I really wonder if our military is even really capable of a coup at this point? Obama had the great purge of all brass that he thought wouldn’t blindly follow him. Also, the majority of Americans are so brain dead and ADD riddled that even though they may fleetingly recognize something is just not right, they go back to the bread and circuses as a child hugs its dolly or teddy bear.

  • Ronin

    Better a single master than a mob. At least a military dictator would take out the trash.

    • Libertymike

      What makes you sure a military dictator would take out the trash?
      A military dictator, by definition, is a parasite who has not made or produced or served upon a voluntary, consensual basis. Put another way, military men are scum.

    • Mustascheo

      Oh yeah they’ll take out the trash all right. But how do you know that you won’t be considered part of that trash they’ll be “taking out”? You willing to take that gamble?

    • Dennis Wilson

      We even have a preview of your view–and sponsored by the good Ole USA. It started on September 11, 1973 in Chile.

      As Mustacheo points out, one man’s trash is another man’s life.

      • Ronin

        Yes, and what happened to Chile after Pinochet cleaned up? Chile became the most prosperous country in South America.

        • Dennis Wilson

          Forced to be “free”? The means justify the ends??? It was a blood bath worse than Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe combined!

          What finally came out of Pinochet–starting 7 years after he took power–had nothing to do with his dictatorial intentions. At best, he invited the “Chicago boys” to bail him out of the disaster that he created–and to take the blame for anything that went wrong.