Source: Sheldon Bart

(To prevent confusion, this essay imagines how we might change America’s current trajectory.)

Some said it started with the circulation online of quotations from the 46th installment of the Federalist Papers. In Federalist 46, James Madison declared that the “ultimate authority” under the proposed Constitution of the United States “resides in the people alone.”

“Let us not,” he wrote, “insult the free and gallant citizens of America with the suspicion, that they would be less able to defend the rights of which they are in actual possession, than the debased subjects of arbitrary power would be to rescue theirs from the hands of their oppressors.”

Nor should we, he continued, “insult them with the supposition” that they could “ever reduce themselves…by a blind and lame submission” to a “long train of insidious measures.”

Others pointed to more contemporary promptings, such as the mandated vaccination of children against COVID-19. Parents recoiled as the experimental mRNA substances being utilized were suspected not only of virulent side effects but of having produced an “antibody-dependent enhancement” reaction. The reference was to a worse-case immunological scenario in which those receiving a vaccine become more rather than less vulnerable to viral infection.

At the same time, due to the hostility of the Biden administration to fossil fuel, the price of gas had risen to $6.50 a gallon in some parts of the U.S. The tragedy of an elderly Michigan couple who died during the winter of 2021-22 because they could no longer afford to heat their home had been eulogized in a hit song, “Blizzard,” by the popular balladeer, Bob Dylan.

Similarly, runaway deficit spending precipitated inflationary pressure on the price of food and consumer goods. Historians have also cited as a triggering factor the murder of a California congressman by two members of a Mexican drug cartel. The pair had taken advantage of a de facto open border to enter the country illegally two months earlier. Then again, the sinking of a Taiwan fishing fleet by a combined naval and air operation of the People’s Republic of China, just days after a skirmish between the Ukrainian army and Russian “observers,” spread shock waves throughout the U.S.

In truth, all of the foregoing elements contributed to the remarkable occurrences of the spring of 2022. The poll numbers of the 79-year-old President Biden continued to decline in proportion to the perceived deterioration of his mental faculties. As foreign aggressions mounted and domestic crises deepened, the feeling became ever more palpable that an administration widely considered inept, radical, incompetent, and out-of-control could no longer be tolerated.

Image: Puppet image used under license from Edited in Pixlr.

With three more years remaining for Biden to serve, it seemed as if an increasingly restive public was stuck with a diminished chief executive who didn’t appear to be calling the shots of his own insufferable administration. Impeachment was not in the cards, as Biden’s Democratic Party controlled both houses of Congress, albeit by the slimmest of margins. Indeed, Vice President Kamala Harris was an even less palatable figure than the president, and the third-in-succession, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, was largely unspeakable.

Fortuitously then, an editorial appeared in an obscure heartland weekly that offered a way forward. Entitled “The Marionette Is Controlled from Above,” the column suggested that it was not necessary to cut Biden’s “strings.” A compromise could be reached if the strings were pulled by someone more in sync with the electorate.

The editorial reverberated far and wide through social media, igniting a grass-roots movement calling for the immediate replacement of White House chief of staff Ron Klain. The public demanded in his place a competent administrator with a mainstream sensibility, unquestioned rectitude, and bipartisan appeal.

As the White House was rocked with letters, phone calls, and emails calling for Klain’s ouster, a march on Washington was quickly organized for April 19, 2022. The date marked the 247th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first engagements of the American Revolutionary War.

More than a quarter of a million people peacefully assembled on the National Mall that morning, some marching to the fife and drums of Revolutionary War reenactors. Participants carried American flags, and placards, and banners reading: “Federalist 46,” “Klain Must Go,” “Of the People, By the People, For the People,” “Ultimate Authority,” and “We the People.”

Simultaneous demonstrations were mounted in towns and cities across the country, as millions of sympathizers stayed home from work or gathered in city parks and squares, and houses of worship in defiance of pandemic restrictions. Horns honked, headlights flashed, boat whistles blew, flags waved from the windows of apartment buildings, banners were towed by low-flying aircraft.

Klain resigned on the morning of April 19th, shortly before a bipartisan congressional delegation called upon President Biden at the White House. For three hours, the parties haggled over Klain’s successor. When finally the name of former Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis, USMC (Ret.) was announced, the crowd cheered and afterward dispersed without incident.

Fifteen senior White House staffers submitted their resignations before General Mattis moved into the West Wing. Within a month after the new chief of staff assumed his duties, the White House announced a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on vaccinations. Border security was abruptly tightened and social welfare spending restrained. Chinese incursions into Taiwanese airspace markedly diminished, and the Russian “observers” on the Ukrainian border were content to merely observe.

When, after a prolonged absence, President Biden again appeared in public on ceremonial occasions, he seemed to enjoy his figurehead status and was often greeted with cheers.

April 19th became the only national holiday that was never officially decreed but customarily celebrated, nonetheless. For years afterward, Americans by the millions paused that day to remember how they rose as one to fulfill the faith and vision of James Madison and Federalist 46.