Do We Really Need a Military Crackdown?

Tom Cotton, with the silent consent of his colleagues, has threatened to “send in the military” into American cities, giving “no quarter” to violent actors in order to restore “order.” Trump has made similar statements.

Cotton, who has Presidential ambitions, proposes to deploy troops under a law from the early days of our Republic that allows a military response to an “insurrection.” But the acts of violence we have witnessed in no way represent a threat to the state, much less an organized revolution aimed at overthrowing the government. (See the definition of “insurrection.”)

Troops Deployed in Washington, D.C.

If peaceful protestors have given cover to looting and anarchy, the fault lies not with law-abiding protestors, but rather in the social and political failures that prompted public demonstrations in the first place. Rather than overturn two centuries of democratic precedent and suspend our constitutional freedoms, politicians should address those underlying failures and build faith and trust with the citizenry — or resign and let others do a better job at problem-solving and leadership.

Sending troops to occupy our streets sets a dangerous precedent toward the suspension of law, emergency rule, and military autocracy. As a citizenry, we must stand up and prevent what is a clear and present threat to our democracy.

Why Republicans are supporting such positions is utterly baffling. For one, they countervail two centuries of conservative thought. What happened to state’s rights? Liberty or death? The need to counter the threat of federal tyranny — even through an armed citizenry? The sacrosanct covenants of our “exceptional” democracy?