Saturday, December 30, 2023

Please Don't Do This

I have a thought  or two.

CNN Senior Legal Analyst Elie Honig also has a few thoughts about the effort in Colorado and in Maine to bar Donald J. Trump from the presidential primary ballot pursuant to Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which reads 

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Honig asks, nearly rhetorically, of the judicial process  in the two states "were these hearings fair? Did they comport with due process?"

The Colorado Supreme Court has upheld the decision of the state's Attorney General to block Trump from being on its presidential primary ballot, though the decision has been stayed. Maine's Secretary of State has determined that the ex-presidential shall not be on the primary ballot in a move which will almost certainly be appealed.

As Honig realizes, the issue of due process will give the US Supreme Court an opportunity to overturn the rulings in the two states with the Court choosing to skirt the substantive issues involve, perhaps a win all around unless your name is "Nikki Haley."

In the video attached to the tweet above, former Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod is seen remarking "He's only gained since he got indicted. What we thought would be kryptonite for him turned out to be battery packs."

Not true. Most people (albeit with many exceptions) did not believe that indictment of President 45 would undermine his effort to be nominated by the GOP electorate. Moreover, whether Trump's legal troubles would help, hurt, or have no impact in a general election is very much uncertain, especially because we don't know what the status of the indictments will be come next fall. Nor is it at all clear that the numerous charges actually have aided Trump's bid to be nominated, as Nikki "tell me what you want me to say" Haley has risen in the polls as she (cowardly) argues "I agree with a lot of his policies, but the truth is, rightly or wrongly, chaos follows him."

Yet, Axelrod does understand

And this is a big one for him. Presumably the Supreme Court will deal with that fairly quickly and I expect they will leave him on the ballot and yes, Brianna, I have very strong reservations about all of this. I do think it would rip the country apart if he were actually presented from running because tens of millions of people want to vote for him. I think if you're going to beat Donald Trump, you're probably going to have to do it at the polls.

Of course, it would rip the country apart or, rather, rip it apart more than it already is. There were two instances of impeachment, which polarized an already polarized nation. The charge in the latter case was "incitement of insurrection" and as in the first impeachment, it ended in de facto acquittal, of Donald Trump. Then there was the January 6 Committee, which recommended the Department of Justice level charges of Obstruction of an Official Proceeding, Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, conspiracy to Knowingly Make a False Statement, and Aiding, Assisting, or Comforting an Insurrection.

But Special Counsel Jack Smith decided not to charge the former President with insurrection. Thus, Trump never has been charged with insurrection and obviously never has been found guilty of being involved in an insurrection.

Tens of millions of people want to vote for Trump, as Axelrod maintains, and it's not only likely that he cannot be beaten otherwise, in the absence of any criminal conviction whatsoever- as is the case presently- it probably is the sole manner in which he should be defeated.

Nonetheless, the drive to deprive Trump of any chance of becoming President again is a terrible idea for a reason Axelrod hints at, though omits. The country could survive backlash from barring Trump from the ballot. However, the country might not survive the effort for another reason.

Notwithstanding the political harm to the Republican Party of the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the major reason Democrats avoided a "red wave" in the 2022 election cycle was identification of the GOP with animus to democracy. This included- but was not limited to- the active effort by Trump, and support of his allies in his Party, to overturn an election.

Few Republican politicians have condemned Trump for his obsession and a CNN poll this past summer found "69% of Republicans and Republican leaners say Biden's win was not legitimate."

Tens of millions of Republicans already believed Joe Biden is President only because of a rigged election. In stepped two conservative law professors, later a conservative former federal judge and liberal law professor to prove them right.

Oh, of course without this initiative most Republicans and GOP-leaning independents still would believe that the election was fishy, if not fraudulent. Yet now, oxygen has been added to the fire of their disbelief and anger. 

For nearly three years, Democrats, never Trump Republicans, and some moderates and centrists have been denouncing the specious claims of the ex-President and the Party which emboldens and enables him, and which refuses to accept the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election.   The loser in 2020, who is insistent that he won, has strongly signaled that he won't accept the results of the next presidential election if and when he loses.  Then, and probably during the campaign, he will wail that the process is "rigged."  

If the Trump disqualification drive gains steam, the ex-President won't have to wait to complain about a rigged election. If he is nominated, the claim will drive Republicans and GOP-leaning independents to the polls to vote their displeasure. And if he loses the nomination to another Republican, the claim will drive Republicans and GOP-leaning independents to the polls to vote their displeasure, in presidential balloting and down-ballot. 

Good luck to Democrats asserting that only Republicans are out to savage democracy. Nothing else could facilitate a more effective GOTV nomination and it would make anyone a heavy favorite over the Democratic nominee.

The Democrats behind this drive are encouraging political suicide. For the Never Trump Republicans, it's brilliant strategy.

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