Designated Survivor


“Without truth, there can be no trust.”
Tom Kirkman



Back in 2016, there was a new ABC television show I enjoyed watching, Designated Survivor, staring Kiefer Sutherland. If you’re not familiar with this show, you can now watch it on Netflix.

The show begins when an attack on the night of the State of the Union address claims the lives of the President and most of the Cabinet. A Housing and Urban Development secretary, Tom Kirkman is catapult to the oval office as designated survivor.

With the onset of two White House staff members testing positive to the Coronavirus, I can’t help but remember this riveting show and began thinking: Who would become our Designated Survivor if both Trump and Pence become unable to perform as President and Vice President?

The procedure for Designated Survivors originated in the 1950s during the Cold War because of possible risk of nuclear attack. There have been several changes to how our country would handle such an emergency. Under the Presidential Succession Act, the Vice President, Mike Pence would be the first in the line of succession to the presidency, followed by the speaker of the House, Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and the president pro tempore of the Senate, GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley. After those three officials are the Cabinet officials. The Secretary of State is fourth in the line of succession, followed by the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, and the Attorney General, with the Secretary of Homeland Security — the most recently created department — in the last place.

In order to be the designated survivor, a cabinet member must be eligible to be President. For example, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, can’t be the designated survivor, as she was born in Taiwan and is thus constitutionally disqualified from serving as a designated survivor.

Shine On

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