(RightWing.org) – President Biden gave his second State of the Union address on February 7, and as usual, he appointed a Designated Survivor for the occasion. The person chosen for the position, a tradition going back to the early years of the Cold War, is a Cabinet member who is picked to be somewhere else while the president — and everyone else in the line of succession — are in Congress for the address. That way, if some disaster obliterates Capitol Hill, there’s a senior member of the government that would still be alive to take over. This year’s Designated Survivor was Labor Secretary Marty Walsh.
What Is the Designated Survivor?
When the USSR developed nuclear weapons in the early 1950s, the US government realized an attack on an event like an inauguration or State of the Union address had the potential to wipe out the entire presidential line of succession and leave the country leaderless. To get around this, the Designated Survivor procedure was created. The president would nominate one Cabinet member who would not attend the event; the plan was that person would survive the attack and be able to step into the presidency.
For decades the identity of the Designated Survivor was secret, but in 1981 President Reagan revealed he’d chosen Education Secretary Terrell Bell for the role. Since then, their identities have been disclosed, usually before the event.
On February 7, the administration disclosed that Marty Walsh would be the Designated Survivor for Biden’s address. In some ways, that was an unusual choice because the same day, CNN reported that Walsh is due to leave the administration to become a top hockey official. So, if the bomb had fallen on Tuesday night, who would be running the country now?
Who Is Marty Walsh?
Martin Joseph Walsh was born in Boston on April 10, 1967. He was diagnosed with cancer when he was just seven years old, but after chemotherapy was clear of the disease four years later. After dropping out of college, he joined the Laborer’s Union in 1988, becoming president of its Local 223. In 1997 he was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. In 2013, he stepped down from the union presidency after winning the election as mayor of Boston.
On January 7, 2021, President-elect Biden nominated Walsh — who was still serving as mayor — as Secretary of Labor, despite him being a recovering alcoholic who has been in AA for 28 years. That nomination was confirmed by the Senate on March 22, and Walsh resigned as mayor to take up his new post. Since then, he’s worked to get unions to back the administration and, in return, has enlisted Vice President Harris to help him encourage more Americans to join unions.
If some disaster had swept away the rest of the Biden administration on Tuesday night, Walsh, as the senior surviving person in the line of succession, would have been sworn in as the 47th president of the United States of America. Instead, he’s getting ready to leave government service and take over as head of the National Hockey League Players’ Association, the union for professional hockey players. That’s a much happier outcome for everyone.
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