How much of the US government would have to be killed/destroyed before it collapsed?

If the president gets killed thats no problem. VP and POTUS gets killed probably no problem. Whitehouse and capital blowing up killing someone inside? We have a very specific line of succesion and things like that. How bad would things have to get for our government to fall in on itself?

Need answer fast

I think the line of succession goes down 20 people, but don’t quote me on that. My daughter is taking US History and that’s what she told me.


Define “government” then define “fall in on itself.”

18, actually. (Oops! I wasn’t supposed to quote that!) :smiley:

The last person in line is the Secretary of Homeland Security. After that, The Governator declares California an independent republic, and things get…interesting.

In theory a single surviving member of the House of Representatives could elect himself Speaker and assume the Presidency. Most states allow the governor to make appointments to vacant Senate seats so it’s membership could be replenished in days.

What’s the order?

Speaker of the House

Then who?

I apologize for not having this answer readily available, but I must remark that the OP headline and text take the cake for the most disturbingly hilarious question I’ve read here in some time.

Reminds me of the old SNL “Gulf War Press Conference” sketch:

*Reporter #8: Yes, Farud Hashami, Baghdad Times. Where are your troops, and can I go there and count them?

Lt. Col. William Pierson: Nope! Last question.*

Al Haig.:smiley:

Clearly this question goes into the extremely hypothetical. But, after a surprise nuclear attack on Washington wiping out all the members of the Cabinet, Senate and House of Representatives, the governors and legislatures of the states would replace them as fast as possible, and the new senators and members of congress would agree to convene the Senate and House in emergency sessions to re-establish a working government as quickly as possible. Too many people support the existence of the US for it be allowed to collapse in this way, particularly after the kind of attack that would have caused the situation. (It would have much more unifying effect than 9/11 or Pearl Harbor).

If you define “collapse” as a complete failure of public services - honestly, I don’t think it’s doable short of a major nuclear war. Our federal system is remarkably robust - even if DC were nuked, with no survivors, the state governments could probably carry on by themselves for quite some time.

We seem to get these apocalyptic type questions every presidential election cycle. I predict there will be several more before the inauguration.

If the entire upper levels of the Federal government were destroyed, including President, Vice President, Cabinet, Congress, and Supreme Court, all positions could be re-filled in fairly short order through succession or appointment except the House of Representatives and the Vice Presidency.

As has been mentioned, Senators can be appointed by state governments without an election. Once the Senate has elected a president pro tempore, that person can succeed to the presidency and appoint Cabinet and Supreme Court members, who can be confirmed by the Senate.

However, members of the House of Representatives must be elected rather than appointed. Since an appointed Vice President must be confirmed by both the House and Senate, that position can’t be filled until a new House is elected.

With answers like that when you say they could be replaced “quickly” Just how quickly? Its not like we have a pool full of educated people who would walk into being a senator so easily. I mean dont these people have many many aids and people that help them do their job?

There is an emergency government relocation facility somewhere. The old one under the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia but a newspaper reporter decided to be a prick and wrote an article about its location. They had to close it down right after that but I have to assume they built another one somewhere even more secret. I would not want to be that reporter.

The people in the line of succession generally aren’t in the same place at the same time. You rarely see Bush hanging out with Cheney for example. IIRC, during big events like the State of the Union address, the Secret Service picks one random member high up in the succession chain and takes them to a secure facility during the event.

The are government staff that spend a whole lot of time contemplating these scenarios and ways to beat them. They do a good job at it and it generates a good amount of intimidation for someone to even attempt such a thing. We still have plenty of nukes too.

I think the government would do just fine even if it was all but wiped out. Lets face it the remaining politicians, however far down the totem-pole they were, would have no problem accepting the reigns of power (for the “good of the country”, obviously). On the whole accepting MORE power is not something politicians are reticent to do (unless the reason some much of the government has been wiped out is some malevolent power is delibrately wiping the US government, in which case they might think twice).

Of course there would have to be some “reigns of power” for them to accept, a disaster big enough to wipe that amount of the government would almost certainly wipe out all the other things that the goverment needs in order to govern. Additionally I’m sure in alot of situations like this the military hierachy would have the real power.

“Reins”. “Reign” is a totally different thing.

TV’s not exactly a cite, but I do remember exactly this being depicted on an episode of The West Wing.

I also remember reading something a long time ago about how Princess Di and the boys would have to travel on a different plane than Charles because they didn’t want all the heirs on the same plane.

Tom Clancy’s Executive Orders is based around a similar event.

Depends on how long the state governments took to get their act together in what would obviously be a time of crisis. It could in theory take a matter of days, but no doubt would be at best several weeks as replacements were nominated and approved.

Sure we do. Out of 300 million people, I’m sure we have an adequate pool of people who have the same level of education and expertise as the average congressperson when they first take office. Of course they wouldn’t have the hands on experience; but it would probably be possible to fill a lot of the vacancies with former members of congress or at least state legislatures.

Sure. Are you postulating that they are all wiped out as well? Just how many people do you want to be killed?:dubious: