-Richard Czaplinski, Will Miller Green Mountain Veterans for Peace (WMGMVP) , Chapter 57, President 

At our monthly meeting on August 15, members of  WMGMVP discussed the very real potential for actions by the POTUS that could well further threaten our democracy in the run up to the elections in November and into 2021. We discussed the great importance of all Peace and Justice and related groups being in close contact during this time and being prepared for a coordinated, rapid response to actions that may be taken by the President and others. 

A US president has huge powers that remain largely hidden from the general public. This power lies in his basic power to declare National Emergencies and in the largely secret documents called Presidential Emergency Action Documents ready to be issued when the president declares a National Emergency. 

As one can learn from the number of National Emergencies declared by US presidents since 1976, there have been many more declarations in recent years, with the current president having already issued 31 such declarations, by far the most, in less than one term of office: Since passage of the National Emergencies Act in 1976, every U.S. President has declared multiple national emergencies, some of them over two terms 

  • Carter2 
  • Reagan: 6 
  • H.W. Bush4 
  • Clinton17 
  • W. Bush12 
  • Obama: 13  
  • Trump31 to date 

 Accompanying each Presidential National Emergency is a document called a “Presidential Emergency Action Document” which is classified and therefore largely unseen by the public. Presidential Emergency Action Documents (PEADs) are draft classified orders created by the President …. to exercise or expand powers in the declaration of an emergency. PEADs originated in the Eisenhower Administration in response to fears of the Cold War…. , and are part of what is often referred to as …. Continuity of Government … planning. Signed orders for a broad scope of issues were drafted and signed by the president intended to be used to prevent disruption of government functions. Of the very limited amount of PEADs that have been declassified, the trend of the orders is toward a severe reduction of liberty and civil rights for American citizens.  

[For more information about the above, read  The Alarming Scope of the President’s Emergency Powers, by Elizabeth Goitein in The Atlantic.]

It seems that this country is at a point where only mass protests will stop the drift further into fascism, and the privatization and dismantling government agencies such as the US Postal Service, the Veterans Administration, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Education, and the Department of Health and Human Services. These domestic actions, along with those increasingly aggressive and irresponsible actions by the President abroad (continuing foreign wars, increased sales of military arms abroad, designation of a new terrorist organization and then the assassination of General Suleimani of Iran, abrogation of the Nuclear Arms Agreement with Iran, recent seizing of Iranian cargo vessels on route to Venezuela), plus the powerlessness of Congress to act in the best interests of the people, all signal a gathering storm. 

 The questions arise: What is to be done? What can we, the peace and justice groups, organizations, and individuals, do to prepare for, prevent, and, as may be necessary, resist what might very well transpire? 

 To be prepared to meet what may come about in the coming months, I am suggesting that representatives of various Vermont peace and justice groups and organizations, come together to prepare what could be called a “Rapid Response Plan” to make sure a coordinated effort occurs rapidly in response to events which may need mass action.

 If you are interested in getting involved locally or have information to contribute, please contact me, Richard at rczaplinski@madriver.com or Rachel Siegel (Executive Director at Peace & Justice Center) at [email protected]. 

To get involved with National organizing, attend “How to Beat an Election-Related Power Grab by Donald Trump” workshop by George Lakey and Zein Nakhoda on 9/23 and 9/30. info at: https://trainingforchange.ourpowerbase.net/how-to-beat-election-related-power-grab.