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How to Overthrow the Government in Modern Day America

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How to Overthrow the Government in Modern Day America

As you can imagine, writing an article about how to overthrow the government in the U.S. is a great way to get on the do-not-fly list.

Don’t worry, this isn’t an article on training domestic terrorists. On the other hand, as more and more people become discontented with various aspects of government policies, plenty of people are asking the question — what if?

What if a large enough contingent of the U.S. population decides that they want to attempt a government overthrow. Is it even possible? What would such a scenario look like?

In this article we’re going to explore this scenario is a manner that’s as realistic as possible — however difficult that may be.

Is Overthrowing the Government a Right?

Do armed citizens maintain the right to overthrow a government they feel no longer represents them?

The best answer to this comes from the Declaration of Independence, in the following excerpt by Jefferson:

…Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The exact word used by Jefferson was in fact “right”, however the real question boils down to the methods Americans can use to alter or abolish the government. The reality is that — love it or hate it — Democracy was built upon the concept of elections.

The two-party system of America may not be the ideal Democracy, or even the most effective way to “overthrow” the government, but it’s the main non-violent path Americans have to exercise the right that the forefathers granted.

Militia Uprising of a Town

As a theoretical exercise, two Academics at Small Wars Journal, considered a scenario where a small militia took over a small American town — with the support of townsfolk.

Considering the immense local support Oregon militia members received when they took over a Federal building in 2016, it isn’t inconceivable to imagine such a scenario actually happening.

The U.S. government considers this what’s called an “insurrection”. There’s actually a law called the Insurrection Act of 1807 that describes how the government can respond to such a scenario:

The President is allowed to use Armed Forces to:

  • “Suppress an insurrection against a State government at the request of the Legislature or, if not in session, the Governor.”
  • “Suppress unlawful obstruction or rebellion against the U.S.”
  • “Suppress insurrection or domestic violence if it (1) hinders the execution of the laws to the extent that a part or class of citizens are deprived of Constitutional rights and the State is unable or refuses to protect those rights or (2) obstructs the execution of any Federal law or impedes the course of justice under Federal laws.)

According to these academics, U.S. troops would try to use the minimum amount of force — potentially even attempting to use non-violent force to take out insurrectionist leaders. The idea would be to “dismantle checkpoints”, and “recapture critical infrastructure” throughout the city to take over the community again.

There would never be a full-scale invasion by the U.S. military against such a community. Instead the military would focus only on clearing isolated points of resistance, clearing checkpoints, and essentially avoiding media coverage of the violence as much as possible.

In many ways the Insurrection Act is in direct contradiction to the Declaration of Independence — but it’s there to provide government with the power to essentially protect Americans from themselves. As you can imagine — in a real world scenario, the water would get very muddy.

What About a Presidential Coup?

Then there’s the scenario of a military coup against the sitting president. There are some who believe that such a scenario, while far-fetched, isn’t outside of the realm of possibility.

The assumption, of course, is that the majority of Americans would stand in support of such a coup, and against the current sitting president. However, given the results of the last presidential election, if there ever were such a coup the most likely end result would be a Civil War. This is evidenced by other scenarios that actually took place elsewhere in the world.

In one 2017 Quora post, Vladislav Antonov who was an active participant in a revolution, told Quora readers exactly what happens in such a scenario. He wrote:

“As the person who participated in coup d’etat in Ukraine… I know very well the consequences of “government overthrow” […] I did something stupid which I currently regret about-just like the rest of the people who participated in anti-governmental movement, I assumed that it is fine to ignore all those people who supported President and voted for him just because: ‘oh well, they are just sheep who follow corrupted/stupid/wrong leader’. Guess what? Get ready to face millions of people who will refuse to accept your ‘new government’ and will meet your attempts to ‘establish constitutional order’ with guns. Are you ready to be responsible for all this? Do you really understand what events will you trigger? How many thousands or even millions will possibly die due to events? No?”

This is the reality of most “civilian” efforts to overthrow any government. An alignment of a majority of any population is very rare. More often a country’s population will not only be split in half, but into many different segments with their own wants and needs — entirely different beliefs about what’s best for the nation.

Nonviolent Resistance

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right of American citizens to assemble peaceably. This is one of the most powerful weapons handed to any citizen — more powerful than any gun. Because enough citizens assembled in unity against any public figure creates a louder impact than any violent act does.

How do you overthrow the government in America? The answer to that is simple — peacefully.

Originally published on

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Ryan is the founder of Top Secret Writers. He is an IT analyst, blogger, journalist, and a researcher for the truth behind strange stories.
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Mark R. Whittington, from Houston, Texas, frequently writes on space, science, political commentary and political culture.

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