Plan Z

In his book Innovation at the Speed of Laughter. John Sweeney, owner of the Minneapolis-based improvisation theater Brave New Workshop, describes the value of injecting the adage “always have a Plan B” with steroids.  The process he uses to encourage his troupe to push for new and better ideas when developing material from concept to full-blown skit does not stop with two or three alternatives.  He recalls how he demands hundreds of variations on a theme before picking the one  that eventually gets added to a performance.

I thought about John Sweeney when I received an email from a regular follower of this blog.  In response to Sunday’s post “Not Who, How.”  She wrote, “Appreciated it very much.  Doubt it will happen.”  My reply?  “Agree, it is unlikely to happen, But, as you know, that is never my goal.  It is to raise options without judging their plausibility.”  Remember, I am the guy who spent 19 years constructing a version of John Kennedy’s assassination that even I do not believe happened.

The need for more options when it comes to the 2024 presidential election increased in magnitude yesterday when the Supreme Court laid the groundwork for Donald Trump to become the first imperial president in the nation’s history.  Though no blood was spilled, the idea that the occupant of the Oval Office could avoid accountably for criminal conduct by invoking a manufactured doctrine of “presumptive immunity” was, for believers in the American experiment, no less gut-wrenching than Hamas’s terror attack on innocent Israelis.  The question is whether it is shocking enough to declare war against the perpetrators.  If so, what does that mean?

Although Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly surrendered the high ground during the nine months since October 7, 2024, he initially understood that defeating Hamas was unlikely with a divided government, which resulted in his inviting political opponents to be members of his “war cabinet.”  Likewise, preventing a second Trump presidency, especially with the Court’s decision to roll out the red carpet for implementation of the unitary theory of executive power in which the other two branches of government have limited control over the president, is equally unlikely with a hopelessly divided electorate.

Joe Biden believes Donald Trump is an existential threat to nearly 250 years of American democracy.  He portrays the 2024 election as a choice between democracy and autocracy although I would argue the other side is more akin to a Russian-style oligarchy with rich donors using Trump as their showrunner.  He says this is not about blue states versus red states, liberal versus conservative or white versus black.  If stopping the Trump machine is that important, Plans B through Y are probably too squishy.  Desperate times require bold thinking.

I therefore offer Plan Z, an audacious and daring signal to the American voter that “business as usual” is not an option.  I present it as an unlikely extreme, but put it out there as a conversation starter.

  1. On the morning of July 4, 2024, the 248 anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Joe Biden announces he is resigning immediately.
  2. At noon, Kamala Harris takes the presidential oath of office.
  3. As her first act as president, she nominates Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to become her vice-president and urges Congress to confirm the nomination with all deliberate speed.
  4. Harris then names Joe Biden as a senior advisor.  This is not without precedent.  During a 2003 training project for the Singapore Civil Service College, John Altman and I had the honor of a private audience with Lee Kwan Yew, one of the newly independent country’s founding fathers and first prime minister.  When we met Yew, he was 79 years old and held the title of “senior minister” with an office in the Parliament House.
  5. At the Democratic National Convention in August, Harris confirms Murkowski will be her running mate.
  6. The theme of the convention is “The United States v. Donald Trump.”  Speakers will be a mix of Democrats and former Trump allies.  Democrats will focus on their vision for America.  Republicans, as the did before the January 6 Select Committee, will remind voters of the political and personal norms that Trump and his sycophants have crossed.

Why a Harris/Murkowski ticket?  Let’s start with Harris.  First, she has the advantage of being mentored by Joe Biden and watching what he has been able to accomplish based on personal relationships and willingness to compromise.  Second, she is a skilled and experienced prosecutor, best evidenced by her questioning of attorney general nominee Bill Barr during his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.  A Trump/Harris debate might be the closest thing we get to cross-examination of the former president.  And imagine his dilemma.  He can either face the music or appear weak and scared by refusing to participate.  Third, the practical matter of continuity.  Since the FEC campaign finance documents were signed by both Biden and Harris, she would automatically have access to the existing funds.  It is not clear that would be the case for other candidates, and no doubt, Trump lawyers would file court challenges to prevent or delay access to another Democratic candidate.

And why Murkowski?  First, Murkowski has bona fide conservative credentials which puts her in a position to argue Harris is open to a spectrum of ideological policy input.  Second, Murkowski lost the 2022 GOP nomination for reelection to her senate seat to a Trump-endorsed candidate.  However, running as an independent, she won the general election with 54 percent of the vote.  Third, she is a strong advocate for women’s reproductive rights, calling the Dobbs decision flawed.

Today the Supreme Court went against 50 years of precedent in choosing to overturn Roe v. Wade. The rights under Roe that many women have relied on for decades—most notably a woman’s right to choose—are now gone or threatened in many states.

Fourth, she regularly demonstrates her fealty to the Constitution and rule of law.  She voted to convict Donald Trump for attempting to overturn the 2020 election.  And she opposed filling the vacant Supreme Court seat following Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death.

For weeks, I have stated that I would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election. Sadly, what was then a hypothetical is now our reality, but my position has not changed.

Again, this is not a call for Biden to step down.  That is a personal decision he must make.  However, if he so chooses, here is one more option to make sure his personal sacrifice has the best chance of achieving the desired outcome.

For what it’s worth.

2 thoughts on “Plan Z

  1. I, personally think this is a substantive and very realistic idea!! How do you get this idea out to those who might know how to implement it?

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