TLIAW: Gödel's Loophole(s)

Prologue New
Judge Forman: "Up to now you have held German citizenship."
Kurt Gödel: "Austrian citizenship.”
Judge: “What kind of government did you have in Austria?”
Gödel: “It was a republic, but the constitution was such that it finally was changed into a dictatorship.”
Judge: “Oh! This is very bad. This could not happen in this country.”
Gödel: “On the contrary, I know how that can happen. And I can prove it!”

- Gödel’s citizenship hearing, December 5, 1947


TIME magazine's controversial cover – Dec. 31, 1999

Considered along with Aristotle and Gottlob Frege to be one of the most significant logicians in history, Kurt Friedrich Gödel had an immense effect upon scientific and political thinking in the 20th century. His theorems were considered earth shattering and today are ranked as landmarks in the history of mathematics and philosophy. While vocationally accomplished and acknowledge as brilliant, Gödel was almost as well known for his extreme eccentricities and periods of mental instability.

Gödel published his first incompleteness theorem in 1931 when he was 25 years old, one year after finishing his doctorate at the University of Vienna. After the Anschluss on 12 March 1938, Austria had become a part of Nazi Germany. His former association with Jewish members of the Vienna Circle weighed against him and the University of Vienna turned his application down. In 1939, Gödel and his wife left Vienna for Princeton. There Gödel accepted a position at the Institute for Advanced Study, which he had previously visited during 1933–34. Albert Einstein was also living at Princeton during this time. Gödel and Einstein developed a strong friendship, and were known to take long walks together to and from the Institute.

On December 5, 1947, Einstein and Oskar Morgenstern accompanied Gödel to his U.S. citizenship exam, where they acted as witnesses. Gödel had confided in them that he had discovered an inconsistency in the U.S. Constitution that could allow the U.S. to become a dictatorship. Einstein and Morgenstern were concerned that their friend's unpredictable behavior might jeopardize his application. The judge turned out to be Phillip Forman, who knew Einstein and had administered the oath at Einstein's own citizenship hearing. Everything went smoothly until Forman happened to ask Gödel if he thought a dictatorship like the Nazi regime could happen in the U.S. and Gödel then started to explain his discovery. Forman cut Gödel off and moved the hearing on to other questions and a routine conclusion.

Of course, Forman could not have predicted that this idea would become a true idée fixe of Gödel's feverish mind, but if he had been more attentive, perhaps the entire history of the United States would have taken a different path.​
Will this timeline be realistic? Well, probably not, but that's what TLIAWs are all about anyway. At least reading all those articles on JSTOR about loopholes in the U.S. Constitution was fun.
#1 (out of four, I guess) New

Gödel was not shy about using his friendship with Einstein as self-promotion
Kurt Gödel's political career began in 1950, when he was elected as a Republican to the Senate of Colorado, a state with some of the loosest candidacy eligibility requirements. Gödel quickly gained popularity for his intelligence and unique perspectives on political issues. As a state senator, Gödel was known for his deep philosophical insights and his ability to think outside the box. Despite his sometimes controversial views, he was a champion of social justice, and he fought tirelessly to improve the lives of his constituents. Gödel was not shy about using his friendship with Einstein as self-promotion and after serving in the state legislature for several years, he ran for governor of Colorado and won the election on November 2, 1954.

When, at the end of 1957, recently re-elected U.S. Senator Eugene Millikin became ill and was unable to complete his term, Gödel resigned as governor so that his successor could appoint him to fill the vacant seat. Given the rumors that Millikin was planning to retire even before the 1957 election, and the fact that just at the end of 1957 Gödel's term of citizenship had reached the nine years required for election to the U.S. Senate, some speculate that there was some secret arrangement between the two, however, there is no firm evidence of this.

At the same time, the political struggle caused by the reforms of Stalin's successor, Lavrentiy Beria, was unfolding in the Soviet bloc.

A conference held under Communist auspices in Warsaw in February 1955 had proposed simultaneous withdrawal of occupation armies from Germany and of Soviet troops from Poland, the unification of Germany, and urged that Germany should not enter any military coalition and her frontiers be guaranteed by the European states and the United States.[1] The Politburo supported the idea in exchange for reparations, but when neutral unified Germany was created, this, combined with Beria's relaxations on Stalinism and the rehabilitation of prisoners, led to turmoil in Soviet Eastern Europe, whose peoples also wanted to get rid of Moscow's dictates.

By 1957, the political atmosphere in the Soviet bloc had changed. Slogans of an openly anti-communist nature were heard, and anti-Soviet sentiments began to emerge, such as the restoration of the public role of the church, free elections, and guarantees of political freedom. In Poland questions were raised about the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the role of Soviet instructors in repressions, portraits of Marshal Rokossovsky were destroyed. In a number of cases it came to street riots, spontaneous rallies in front of buildings that housed Party, trade union, and police organs. Hungarian activists demanded open public trials of the organizers of repression and the withdrawal of Soviet troops. In Budapest, demonstrators seized civil defense warehouses and stormed police and radio stations. In Czechoslovakia, demonstrators destroyed portraits of Stalin and Gottwald, replacing them with images of Eduard Beneš. One group seized a radio station in Pilsen and freed about a hundred political prisoners from the city jail.[2]

Yet President Eisenhower continued to reject direct U.S. intervention and arms deliveries to the rebels. It was Senator Gödel and his fiery speeches that were instrumental in mobilizing support for the anti-Soviet rebels in the Senate and throughout the USA. He also used his connections with academics and various intellectual circles to draw attention to the events in Eastern Europe and to influence public opinion, which in turn pressured the government and other states to do something in support of protesters. His rapid rise in popularity and recognition was comparable to that of Senator Joseph McCarthy in the early 1950s.

But it was the assassination of Vice President Nixon that really added fuel to the fire. The attack on Richard Nixon's motorcade occurred in Caracas, Venezuela, on May 13, 1958, during his goodwill tour of South America, and suspicion immediately fell on the Communist Party of Venezuela.[3] The world was on the brink of nuclear war.

Perhaps if the USSR had been led by a hardliner, events would have developed differently, but Beria was very pragmatic and knew when to back down. As a result, in 1959 Hungary, Poland, and Czechoslovakia were given neutral status similar to that of a unified Germany, while Beria concentrated on internal affairs. And Gödel was one of the first U.S. officials to visit the newly independent Czechoslovakia, the country in whose territory he was born.

[1] Yeah, the unification of Germany under Beria is a cliché, I know.
[2] More or less OTL. Time-shifted due to butterflies.
[3] This attack.
#2 New

Gödel's plan

Only five years after ratification of the Twenty-Second Amendment, President Eisenhower, on the verge of an overwhelming reelection, publicly questioned the Amendment's wisdom. One month before the 1956 election he told reporters that the electorate ought to be able to choose for its President anybody that it wants, regardless of the number of terms he has served, and explained that the Amendment may not be wholly wise. In 1959, the House and Senate held hearings on the Twenty-Second Amendment, and former President Truman appeared before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments to criticize the Amendment and urge its repeal. The Amendment, according to Truman, was unwisely passed by Roosevelt haters and made a lame duck out of every second term President for all time in the future. The Twenty-Second Amendment, Truman added, put a President in the hardest job in the world with one hand tied behind his back.[1]

Eisenhower's popularity was so high that no one doubted that he would have been elected to a third term had he had the constitutional opportunity to do so. The death of Vice President Nixon eliminated his most obvious successor in the 1960 election, and new political star Kurt Gödel, though distinguished during the crisis, was not a U.S. citizen by birth. The situation seemed to have stalled. Or had it? Kurt Gödel thought that these constitutional limitations were fairly easy to overcome.

First, Gödel's eligibility. In the case of Gibson v. Wood, 105 Ky. 740, 49 S.W. 768, the court had under consideration a provision of the city charter of Louisville requiring certain officers of the city to have resided in the city three years preceding their election. The officer involved in the case had resided for more than three years in the suburb of Enterprise, which was annexed to the city within three years of the election. In discussing the question, the court referred to the requirement of the Federal Constitution that only a natural born citizen or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of the Constitution should be eligible to the office of president, saying:

"Can it be claimed that a person born in the republic of Texas prior to its admission into the Union is ineligible to the presidency of the United States for that reason? We do not believe such a construction can be reasonably contended for."

Therefore, for Gödel to become a citizen by birth, the United States had to annex Czechoslovakia. However, in fact, it was even simpler than that. When Princess Margriet of the Netherlands was born at Ottawa City Hospital in 1940, the hospital's maternity ward was temporarily declared extraterritorial by the Canadian government. This guaranteed that the newborn would not be born in Canada and would not be British subjects under the jus soli rule. Gödel's plan was partly inspired by this case. The new Czechoslovakian government was happy to give the room in the family mansion where Gödel was born to the state of Colorado. Yes, any change in the borders of the United States must be approved by the Senate. But the precedent of the incorporation of the British Horseshoe Reef into New York State proved that de facto recognition of the new boundaries by the Senate is sufficient. President Eisenhower could just incorporate Gödel's birthplace into Colorado on his own authority, and get de facto recognition, for example, when the Senate certifies the votes cast for Gödel after the presidential election.

With Eisenhower's ability to run for a third term, things were both easier and more complicated. The Twenty Second Amendment to the United States Constitution states that "no person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice." Although a twice-elected President may not again be elected to that Office, there are a number of circumstances in which such a person may still serve as President. The most obvious solution for Eisenhower would have been to run for Vice President and then become President after his running mate-elect announced his resignation immediately after the election. However, that would have left him without a vice president for a full term, which, given his potential health problems, would have been not desirable.

Consequently, a more complicated path had to be taken. First, presidential candidate Gödel and his vice presidential candidate Eisenhower should win the election, no one doubted a landslide victory. Then, half of the electors they received must become faithless electors and vote not for President Gödel and Vice-President Eisenhower, but for President Eisenhower and Vice-President Gödel. There is no penalty for faithless electors, so there won't be a problem here. The decision on the results would go to Congress, where the House of Representatives, in the language of the Constitution, would have to choose (not elect!) the President from the three candidates who got the most votes, i.e. Eisenhower, Gödel, and the Democratic candidate, and the Senate would choose the Vice President (between Gödel and Eisenhower). Yes, the whole construction was a bit shaky, the Supreme Court declared the situation a political issue not fit for judicial review, and Congress could have stayed out of the game and appointed the Democratic candidate as president or at least approved the original election results that Gödel became president and Eisenhower became vice-president. The only thing that could theoretically weigh on Congress was the overwhelming support for Eisenhower's third term. However, as subsequent events showed, the fragility of this construct lay elsewhere.

It is clear that 73-year-old Richard Paul Pavlick was insane. In 1958, he threatened suicide in a letter to President Eisenhower. In 1959, in another letter to Eisenhower, he complained about treatment he had received in some business dealings. When Eisenhower announced, to everyone's delight, that Gödel’s plan allowed him to run for a third term, Pavlick got it into his head that he had to save America from tyranny.[2] In November 1960, the Gödel-Eisenhower ticket received 435 of 537 electoral votes. In December, Pavlick successfully crashed his dynamite-filled car into Dwight Eisenhower's car. No one survived, but, more importantly, members of the Electoral College had already cast their votes for the now dead man, and thus their votes became invalid and no longer counted in the total.

As a result, 218 votes for Eisenhower-President and 217 for Eisenhower-Vice-President were invalidated. Kurt Gödel was elected President of the United States with 217 of the now only 319 votes (and thus far surpassing closest opponent Hubert Humphrey with his 88), and also Vice President of the United States with 218 of the 320 votes.

[1] OTL.
[2] Richard Paul Pavlick really wrote to Eisenhower.
#3 New

Civil Rights Act of 1962

Kurt Gödel was the first person to be elected both President and Vice President of the United States. The situation looked somewhat absurd, but generally harmless and not unconstitutional. At that time, it seemed much more important to deal with the assassination of President Eisenhower; many believed it was revenge on the part of Lavrentiy Beria. In this context, the newly elected President Gödel was working hard, and he had people to work with. Director of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover, chief of counterintelligence for the CIA James Jesus Angleton, deputy director of the NSA Louis W. Tordella, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Lyman Lemnitzer were men willing to do a lot to fight communism, from wiretapping U.S. citizens to false-flag operations. Operation CHAOS and Project MINARET were quickly added to the already existing COINTELPRO and Project SHAMROCK, tens of thousands of people were placed on "lists", members of Congress, officials and lobbyists were wiretapped, and national security was interpreted very broadly.

However, the general public was not allowed to know about these projects; the main topic of domestic politics was the events surrounding the Civil Rights Act of 1962. This act was to prohibit discrimination in public places, integrate schools and other public institutions, and make employment discrimination illegal. It was the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction and was supposed to take the wind out of the sails of communist propagandists.

Gödel called the congressional leaders to the White House to line up the necessary votes in the House for passage. The bill was reported out of the Judiciary Committee in November 1962 and referred to the Rules Committee, whose chairman, Howard W. Smith, a Democrat and staunch segregationist from Virginia, indicated his intention to keep the bill bottled up indefinitely. The political situation was deadlocked and Kurt Gödel clearly did not have enough votes to get the bill through the Senate, so he decided to resort to quite an unorthodox move:

“First, as for the President, let me remind you that in addition to treaties, I also have power to enter into "sole executive agreements" on my own authority, without the concurrence of the Senate. And the conventional wisdom is that under Missouri v. Holland, sole executive agreements, like treaties, may increase the legislative power. Thus, the President, acting alone, can expand the legislative power. Also, treaties and executive agreements are not thought to be limited either by subject matter or by the Tenth Amendment's reservation of powers to the states. So, entering into a sole self-executive agreement with, say, South Vietnam, containing all the clauses proposed in the Civil Rights Act is fully equivalent to passing this act."

President Gödel's decision was met with a mix of reactions from the states. Some states, particularly those in the Northeast and West Coast, welcomed the agreement and saw it as a necessary step towards equality and justice. Many states in the South vehemently opposed the executive agreement, viewing it as an infringement on their states' rights and an attack on their traditional way of life. Despite the backlash, President Gödel stood firm in his commitment to equality and justice for all Americans. He worked tirelessly to enforce the executive agreement and ensure that all citizens were treated fairly and equally under the law. The tension between the federal government and states escalated quickly, with protests and riots breaking out in major cities across the country. President Gödel deployed the National Guard to maintain order and protect citizens' rights.

The legality of this self-executive agreement was almost immediately challenged in the courts. When, after months and months of numerous rounds of appeals, the case reached the Supreme Court, it seemed that Gödel's "rule by decree" had little time left. But then Gödel took yet another unorthodox move.

The U.S. Constitution creates a Supreme Court, while leaving it to Congress to create inferior courts. The Constitution does not specify the size of the membership of the Supreme Court, which has varied over time. Everybody assumes that Congress has the power to specify the size of the Supreme Court, as well as of the inferior courts. But according to Gödel, the assumption that Congress had the power to determine, and to alter, the size of the Supreme Court was mistaken. There is no question that Article III, section 1, gives Congress the power “from time to time” to “ordain and establish” what it calls “inferior courts.” But no act of Congress was needed to “ordain and establish” the Supreme Court – the Constitution itself does that. At the founding, President Washington clearly had power to nominate justices and the Senate had the sole power to confirm their appointments. No statute was needed. So, the Supreme Court can be enlarged by the simple expedient of the Senate’s confirmation of Presidential nominees, in any number the Senate deems advisable. President Washington had a duty to staff the Court at the startup, but it was up to him to decide how many judges to nominate, and up to the Senate how many to appoint.

On April 15, 1963, in the middle of a Congressional recess, Gödel announced that he was using his power under the Recess Appointment Clause and appointed ten additional justices to the Supreme Court. Things were heating up, and while few doubted Gödel's noble intentions, such creative interpretations of the constitution were objectively troubling. Some senators supported the president's actions, while others were critical of the violation of democratic principles and the potential damage to the independence of the judiciary. Calls for an investigation or even impeachment proceedings began to be heard. But there were also those who believed that, strictly speaking, nothing irreparable had happened, because Gödel was still operating within the bounds of the law. Yes, the number of judges had gone up to 19, but this was just a recess appointment, and therefore the Senate could simply not approve this decision in 1965, everything would go back to normal, the Supreme Court would finally overturn Gödel’s sole executive agreement, and Gödel himself would probably not even be re-elected.

With regard to American foreign policy, the November 1963 South Vietnamese coup d'état sparked a rapid succession of leaders in South Vietnam, each unable to rally and unify their people and in turn overthrown by someone new. These frequent changes in leadership caused political instability in the South, since no strong, centralized and permanent government was in place to govern the nation, while the Viet Minh stepped up their infiltration of the Southern populace and their pace of attacks in the South. Having supported the coup against President Diem, US Ambassador to South Vietnam Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. then realized it had caused the situation in the region to deteriorate, and he suggested to the State Department that South Vietnam should be made to relinquish its independence and become a protectorate of the United States (like the former status of the Philippines) so as to bring governmental stability.[1] The alternatives, he warned, were either increased military involvement by the U.S. or total abandonment of South Vietnam by America.

[1] OTL.
#4 New

Chairman Beria in Minsk minutes before the assassination

The assassination of Chairman Beria on July 5, 1964, shocked the Soviet Union and the world. The Soviet government immediately launched an investigation into the murder and blamed the United States for the attack. Unsurprisingly, given that the assassin was a U.S. citizen Lee Harvey Oswald, who had emigrated to the Soviet Union in 1959.

The United States naturally called for calm and argued that Oswald was probably just retaliating for not being released from the USSR back to the US, but the Soviet Union was convinced of American involvement and began mobilizing its armed forces. The world watched anxiously as the two superpowers once again approached nuclear war. Diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the situation were unsuccessful, and war seemed inevitable.

It was against this background that President Gödel announced to Hoover, Angleton, Lemnitzer and others that his plan for a national emergency in the United States must be put into immediate effect. This plan was far more serious than simple martial law, but when the very existence of the United States was at stake, the choice between a patriotic junta and a crowd of obstructive congressmen and governors was not even an issue. Especially since Gödel planned to act only within the limits of the Constitution.

Everything happened even before the Congress could return from its July 19 scheduled end of recess. First, South Vietnam "unexpectedly" decided to dramatically increase its degree of integration with the United States and, instead of requesting an American protectorate, sent a request for all 247 districts of South Vietnam to be admitted as separate states to the United States. Gödel then used his right as President to convene the Senate urgently from recess, and the very next minute he used his right as Vice President to open the session on the admission of the new 247 states. Since no senators were present, 0 senators voted to approve the treaty and 0 voted against it as well. In the resulting tie, Gödel exercised his right as Vice President and voted in favor, so the treaty was approved by all who were present, even more than the constitutionally required two-thirds of those present. Yes, a quorum of 51 was actually necessary, but under the rules and customs of the Senate, a quorum is always assumed to be present unless a quorum call explicitly demonstrates otherwise, and Gödel did not call a roll. Also, the fact that the constitution speaks of two-thirds of senators, and Gödel was President and Vice President, but not a senator, could have been controversial. However, Gödel stated that the word "senator" in the Treaty Clause should be interpreted as "member of the Senate," and the Vice President is a member. The 10 temporary justices of the Supreme Court appointed by him agreed, by the way, Gödel also immediately approved their full membership in a similar tie-breaking way. The rest was a matter of procedure, 247 new states constituted a majority sufficient to amend the Constitution and the article amended by Gödel was Article V itself, describing the process of amending the Constitution. Now a two-thirds vote of both houses or two-thirds of the states was no longer necessary, under the Twenty-fifth Amendment a simple presidential decree was enough.

This finally gave Gödel unlimited power. The Constitution forbids postponing elections? Amended, don't change horses in midstream. The legislative power belongs to the Congress? Amended, an effective crisis response requires velocity. The position of Vice President, in his absence, remains vacant until the next election? Amended, with war looming it is dangerous to leave the president without a successor, let Curtis LeMay combine the position of VP with his position as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force just in case. And so on and so forth.

The jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming includes all of Yellowstone National Park, which extends slightly beyond Wyoming's borders into Idaho and Montana, and the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over the park, crimes committed in the park cannot be prosecuted under the laws of either state. Under the Constitution, juries in federal criminal cases must consist of citizens of both the district and the state where the crime was committed. As such, charges for a crime committed within a park in Idaho would have to be tried by a jury composed solely of residents of that area, and the trial would have to take place in that area. Since the portion of the park located within Idaho is uninhabited, it is impossible to form a jury of state and district residents, and therefore, unable to obtain a constitutional trial, the perpetrator of the crime within those 50 square miles cannot be punished under the law, regardless of guilt or innocence.

It was there, in a newly built secret bunker, that President Gödel gathered all the members of his legalist junta. In a shocking speech, he revealed that he had been a Soviet agent Perseus since 1940. That he had used his friendly contacts with the Manhattan Project scientists to obtain and transfer atomic secrets to the USSR. That that's when Beria, the curator of the Soviet atomic project, spotted him. That when he became President of the United States, Beria, fearing American intelligence, eliminated all the KGB officers who knew about Gödel's status. That he personally sent Lee Harvey Oswald to kill Beria to get rid of Soviet control. That now he would win the nuclear war and become ruler of the world. And that all crimes are legal in the Zone of Death, so he will now kill everyone present because they are not loyal enough and now know too much.

What followed, they say, resembled the assassination of Julius Caesar. Kurt Gödel's last words were "Do your worst, you little bastards! Kill me! Do it! Do i-i-i-i-i-it!" Since it all took place in the Zone of Death, no one was punished. Afterwards, it was relatively easy to convince Chairman Andrianov that only Gödel wanted the war and to move the negotiations with the Soviets from the dead point. However, the junta did not lift the state of emergency, because if a communist spy could get into the presidency, they could be anywhere, and the junta members led by now President Curtis LeMay could only trust each other. The investigation into how Gödel, who always remained in plain sight, was able to pass information to the Soviets and secretly recruit at least Lee Harvey Oswald, went on for many years without any clear results.

No one has ever been able to admit that Kurt Gödel simply lied and that this was his final step toward the ultimate transformation of the United States into a dictatorship.

The End
Wished it lasted longer, or had one more chapter to show what happened next.
The problem is that I don't really know how to write endings. My first idea for the ending of this timeline was the nuclear apocalypse, if anything. Since seven days have not yet passed from the first post, I could try to write a postscript, but I am unlikely to come up with anything original. And with a relatively open ending, everyone can imagine their own developments, for example, the Revolution of 1977 and the replacement of the presidency with a Swiss-like federal council.