If you haven't watched it yet, the Netflix series “Designated Survivor"Tells the story of US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland), who becomes president after the Capitol explodes as the President-elect gives his speech on the state of the Union. From fiction to reality, there is only one step: this role is real, and at a government meeting, a person is chosen to be the “designated survivor".

For example, on February 4, while US President Donald Trump is going to Congress to deliver his speech on the state of the Union, someone in the government will be in an unknown location, being watched by the secret services. One person? It is only at the time of the event that the name of the person is known, a Cabinet official in the direct line of the presidential succession in the event of a disaster, attack or unforeseen event.

Note that the Constitution does not directly require a designated survivor. The line of presidential succession is covered both by article II, section 1 of the Constitution, which was then amended and clarified by the 20th amendment, and is detailed in the law on presidential succession. But neither requires a “sequestration" In practice. The process apparently began in the late 1950s during the Cold War, and the United States government only publicly recognized survivor status until 1981, when Education Secretary Terrel Bell was absent during a speech by President Ronald Reagan to Congress.

Since then, a designated survivor has been used for the State of the Union speech, inaugurations and presidential speeches at joint sessions of Congress. The White House does not reveal exactly how the designated survivor is chosen. Jon Favreau, the former editor-in-chief of Barack Obama, had explained to The Ringer the process for selecting the survivors designated in 2016. According to him, the process is “fully random“But sometimes the choice of the named survivor depends on what the president intends to say in his speech. "I remember the years when education was a big deal in speech and so Arne Duncan, who was the education secretary at the time, couldn't be the designated survivor. "

In 2000, Bill Richardson, the Secretary of Energy under Bill Clinton, was the designated survivor. "I thought I did something with myl ”, he had confided at ABC News before the 2018 state of the Union. “I was disappointed not to go", did he declare. Last year, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue held the position of designated survivor. According to a University of California study, members of the Cabinet of the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior have served most as a designated survivor for the State of the Union, six times since 1984.


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