On Inauguration Day, every American president — Republican or Democrat — is given virtually limitless authority to order a nuclear strike at any time they choose. There are no democratic checks on that power: no role for Congress, the Cabinet, or even senior military commanders to approve or even question these orders.
After ordering a nuclear attack, the President’s identity is verified by the Pentagon. That is the only “check” in the process. From there, the order works its way through the system with blind deference and speed. In as little as 5 minutes, nuclear missiles would climb into the sky, with no way to stop the missile after its launch. They would reach their target cities and kill millions of people in 30 minutes or less.
There are no legal, political or operational restraints on this autocratic power to launch a civilization-ending nuclear attack. Nothing to prevent a president from unleashing a nuclear holocaust based on misinformation or poor judgment. No requirement even for a president to explain or provide rationale.
This throws into stark relief the terrible burden American voters face in every election. With the keys to the White House come absolute control over thousands of nuclear weapons. The fate of everything we love rests on one person’s sound mind, good judgment, and emotional stability — with zero margin for error.
Pending their total elimination worldwide, we should do everything we can to dismantle the unjust, undemocratic, and terrifying nuclear monarchy at the heart of American democracy.
One thing the United States can do right now is enact legislation prohibiting the first use of nuclear weapons in a conflict. The No First Use Act wouldn’t stop the president from responding to a nuclear attack, but it would keep them from starting one.
Add your name to a growing list of people demanding Congress to pass the No First Use Act. We’ll make sure they get the message: