In a nation weakened by worldwide economic issues and a world that has grown weary of war and strife, a chief executive struggles
The head law enforcement officer of the nation, acting on orders of the chief executive, orders a raid on the opposition party’s headquarters. There, the police find evidence of seditious material, including a plot to attack public buildings. The chief executive takes to the airwaves with claims that the opposition is planning to attack the capitol.
Shortly thereafter, the capitol is attacked, and one of the men arrested in an unemployed construction worker who admits to being under the command of the leader of the opposition party. The chief executive declares, “we must crush out this murderous pest with an iron fist.”
A few hours later, the chief executive issued an executive order that effectively abolished freedom of speech, assembly, privacy and the press; legalized phone tapping and interception of correspondence; and that 4,000 people be arrested, imprisoned and tortured.
Later that year, a sensational criminal trial got under way. The man who burned the Capitol, the leader of the opposition party, and several key figures of the opposition party went on trial for sedition.
As the trial proceeded, a different kind of trial captured the public discourse. A member of the opposition undertook an independent investigation of the destruction of the Capitol. The combined research resulted in the publication of The Brown Book on the Insurrection. It included early accounts police brutality, as well as an argument that the insurrectionists were simply pawns. The chief executive’s party members were the real criminals, the book argued, and they orchestrated the insurrection to consolidate political power. The book became a bestseller, translated into 24 languages and sold around Europe and the U.S.
At any rate, a full 5% of the legislature was declared to be in league with the accused insurrection. They were imprisoned and held for a trial that would never come. Their seats were left vacant, and the leader’s party was free to hold legislative referendums without them present. Kind of like this:
Fearing that the insurrectionists were gaining enough power to become a threat to the very nation, the legislature passed an enabling act that temporarily granted emergency legislative powers to the chief executive so that he and the head of the nation’s law enforcement could deal with the spreading insurrection. Soon thereafter, the chief executive passed away after a sudden and brief illness. The chief law enforcement executive then declared himself to be the new chief executive, then used his emergency powers to pass a law declaring himself to be the permanent head of government and disbanded the legislature. He ordered jailed anyone who opposed his new powers.
Every bit of the preceding story actually happened, and this rise to power was 100 percent within the law. It was years of planning and meticulous use of legal loopholes that allowed this dictator to set the entire world on fire.
Anyone familiar with history knows that this is a common story. The story above is modeled on Hitler’s rise to power, but that example is not the only time that a national emergency has been seized upon by a would be dictator to enable his rise to power. It could easily be applied to any number of historical power grabs.