What happens when the entire US government is wiped out?

Louella Tangpuz, Trainee
PUBLISHED March 8, 2018 04:35 pm
Photo by ABC

(Inside Manila) In ABC’s TV series Designated Survivor, Kiefer Sutherland plays a low-level U.S. Cabinet member who unexpectedly becomes president after an attack on the Capitol during the State of the Union wipes out everyone ahead of him in the presidential line of succession.

Sutherland’s role as the designated survivor is real in the U.S. government. The possibility of a junior cabinet member of becoming a world leader isn’t that implausible.

The tradition dates back during the Cold War Era, when the threat of nuclear attacks began. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the role became more serious.

The Presidential Succession Act of 1947 was created in case catastrophic occurrence kills or incapacitates the president and officials next to him in the line of succession to guarantee continuity of government.

The president and his staff choose the designated survivor. Cabinet members who are eligible to succeed to presidency must be natural-born citizens over the age of 35 and have resided in the United States for at least 14 years.

During a major gathering, a designated survivor is taken to a safe and undisclosed facility with high-level security outside of Washington.



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