CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Deploying the US military in the streets and putting political rivals behind bars. That is what one North Carolina lawmaker says President Trump needs to do to hold onto the White House.
State. Sen. Bob Steinburg (R-Chowan) floated the extreme proposals in a now-deleted post on his personal Facebook page, according to the Washington Post and an interview with WRAL. The suggestions are based on his belief that the election was stolen even though the courts and the Department of Justice found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
“It is dangerous for public officials to talk like this,” said UNC Charlotte political science professor Dr. Eric Heberlig. “It’s one thing if crazy Uncle Larry talks like this at Thanksgiving because there’s no legal repercussions of it. But ordinary members of the public look to public officials for signals as to what’s acceptable.”
Steinburg quoted former Gen. Thomas McInerney writing: “President Trump must declare a national emergency” and “invoke the Insurrection Act.” The federal law, signed by Thomas Jefferson in 1807, would allow the president to deploy the military on US soil. It was last used in 1992 when California Gov. Pete Wilson requested President George H. W. Bush mobilize troops to help quell the Rodney King riots. At the time, the city of Los Angeles was burning.
“That was of such epic proportions that a state did feel the need to bring in federal forces,” said Catawba College political science professor Dr. Michael Bitzer. “I’m at a loss to say any governor is experiencing that kind of issue today over the 2020 election.”
In Virginia, Republican state Sen. Amanda Chase, a candidate for governor, called for martial law. Both Bitzer and Heberlig say this kind of talk from local lawmakers is unprecedented.
“It’s really a sign of the deep polarization in the United States,” said Heberlig, “that public officials would feel OK to say things like that and that there wouldn’t be serious repercussions of suggesting that we overthrow the Constitution and basic democratic procedures.”
Steinburg also publicly called suspending Habeas Corpus an “option.” That would let authorities detain people indefinitely without seeing a judge. He said he would be OK if Trump detained political enemies to remain in power.
“If that’s what needs to be done, if there are people who have been identified as folks who are suspected of high crimes and misdemeanors, who are threatening the very scrutiny and foundation of our nation,” Steinburg told WRAL. “For whatever period of time it takes to round them up, then yes.”
Steinberg previously served three terms in the statehouse. He was just re-elected to his second term in the Senate. FOX 46 reached out to him for comment along with Senate Pres. Pro Tem Phil Berger and the North Carolina Republican and Democratic parties but did not hear back.
Bitzer called invoking the Insurrection Act and threatening to suspend civil liberties and the Constitution “mind boggling.”
“It is extreme,” he said. “Because it is used by authoritarians, by totalitarian governments, and by individuals who pride themselves on their dictatorial powers.”
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