Continuity of Government

designatedsurvivorI’ve started watching Designated Survivor this year on Hulu. It’s been a long time since I started a new show let alone one that I have to watch on a weekly basis rather than binge a season on a random Saturday. The pilot looked really promising and I’m definitely interested in this weeks show. The premise of the show is that during events where the majority of the government is located in one building, such as the State of the Union, there is one person that is marked as a “designated survivor” that is not in attendance. The concept was new to me and I’ve never heard of it before, but here is the detailed information on how it sort of works.

In the show, the Capital building is blown up during the State of the Union address and they snap into action rushing to the White House so the designated survivor could be sworn in as acting President. Taking the show’s obvious flare and drama out of the storyline, it is clear to me the importance of such a program to even exist. I’ve known for years that while individuals are intelligent and for the most part moral, as soon as you have a mob mentality, the group of people are quite unintelligent and act on impulse. Not having a leader in place quickly would certainly throw the country into chaos and anarchy. Riots for various reasons are clear examples of how a mob mentality can take over a group of people. The pilot episode has the designated survivor, now President, addressing the nation within 1 hour of him being elevated to President.

The part of the show that I geeked out on was when they took him into the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) for a briefing after being made President. The PEOC they show is sophisticated and awesome with technology bursting at the seams. I know from pictures during 9/11 that the PEOC is actually underwhelming and consists of board room table and lots of chairs, hard-line phones, and old televisions, etc. It isn’t a stretch of the imagination to believe that what is on the show is closer to what the real PEOC actually looks like. Of course the 9/11 pictured versions is what has been deemed unclassified and safe to show the general public. That doesn’t matter though, because my imagination is telling me to believe the show rather than the pictures. My geek-nerd brain won’t let me believe anything else unless I peep the real thing, which I know is impossible.

thelastshipI’m acutely aware of why continuity of government is required, especially during a crisis. The Trump and Clinton rhetoric aside, government being good or bad, is what runs the country we’re living in. A lack of government would most definitely put us into a state of fight or flight of monumental proportions. Watching The Last Ship the past two years shows good examples of how a country can degrade to anarchy when there isn’t a clear government structure in place. The show’s premise is based on a pandemic virus that spreads around the world and affects the entire U.S. government. After several conflicts with different factions, including immune people who think they were divinely chosen, a government is established to spread the cure and re-establish order again. I’d recommend the show if that’s the sort of plot line that interests you. Although fictional, there are several points that are based on actual facts should a catastrophic collapse of government actually occur.

Due to our experience from the Cold War, our country is prepared with multiple plans to ensure our government continues to function. Generally, I’m not a pessimist, however in this case it is in our best interests to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. I’m not naive enough to think that someone, somewhere, is planning some form of terrorism on our country. As is the case with cyber warfare, it isn’t a question of if, but when. I just hope that we have a plan to protect our continuity of government to defend against an attack we most likely won’t see coming.