Need to keep Trump off ballot to save democracy
As we inch closer to the 2024 presidential election, professors are once again yelling the sky is falling if President Donald Trump wins this November.
Some have even argued Trump should be kept off the ballot in order to save “democracy.”
Writing recently in The Conversation, three professors argued a second Trump term would “damage American democracy even more than his first term did.”
This is because the Republican Party is “loyal” to Trump, according to Michigan State University Professor Erica Frantz, Yale University Professor Andrea Kendall-Taylor, and Pennsylvania State University Professor Joseph Wright.
They wrote a book that explains “the dangers that arise when leaders come to power backed by political parties that exist primarily to promote the leader’s personal agenda, as opposed to advancing particular policies.”
The proof Trump is doing this is that the GOP deferred setting a new agenda in 2020, instead keeping the one it passed in 2016.
In contrast, “[t]raditional parties, including the pre-Trump Republican Party, offer voters a bundle of policy positions hashed out among multiple elite factions of the party.” Deferring to the 2016 platform, and by extension Trump, is an example of how the GOP became a “personalist” one.
“Because the Republican Party has taken a personalist turn under Trump’s spell, democracy in the U.S. would suffer should Trump win a second term,” the scholars warn.
They warned about Trump’s platform of cutting the size of the federal government among other typical Republican initiatives.
All signs indicate that Trump, if reelected, is likely to pursue an authoritarian power grab by, for example, purging professional bureaucrats, expanding the Supreme Court or using the Insurrection Act to deploy the military against protesters. Party members may even support him in that power grab.
Other professors agreed democracy is on the line – and for that reason, Trump must be kept off the ballot.
George Mason University law Professor Ilya Somin said Trump is going to “undermine democracy.” Therefore, voters must be prevented from voting him. This must be done to save democracy, an argument that makes sense if you don’t think about it. Somin is in tension with the three aforementioned professors, since he, like Trump, wants to shrink government.
Commenting on the Supreme Court case about Trump’s eligibility, Somin, a Reason contributor, told The Fix, “there is good reason to protect democracy against candidates for office who themselves have a track record of trying to undermine democracy by resorting to force and fraud when they lose an election.”
He found common cause with President Bill Clinton’s Labor Secretary Robert Reich, now a professor at the University of California Berkeley.
“Trump is running for re-election, despite the explicit language of section three of the 14th amendment to the constitution, which prohibits anyone who has held public office and who has engaged in insurrection against the United States from ever again serving in public office,” Reich wrote in 2023.
Without a hint of irony, Reich warned that Trump-supported secretaries of state and governors might try to “prevent people likely to vote for Joe Biden from voting at all.” That’s why people who want to vote for Trump must effectively be barred from doing so, by keeping their favored candidate off the ballot, another argument that also makes sense the less you think about it.
He urged election officials to apply the 14th Amendment to Trump and keep him off the ballot, something Colorado did.
Just a few days ago Reich sounded the alarm again about how Trump threatened “democracy.”
“Folks, the political struggle of our time is no longer Left versus Right, Democrats versus Republicans. It’s now democracy versus fascism,” he wrote.
University of Michigan political scientist Vincent Hutchings agrees that democracy is at stake. Though he said he does not wholly reject the Republican Party or its platform, he is worried.
“I am absolutely calling attention to the Republican Party, or at least many of its leaders, including the leading candidate for the presidential nomination, has seemingly renounced democracy, the principles of democracy, the norms of democracy” the professor of political science and “Afroamerican and African Studies” said during an interview on Jan 25.
Mercer University Professor David Gushee also warned that “democracy itself is losing support.” The professor and Baptist pastor placed the blame on some Christians and Trump.
“In the US, the immediate crisis is the phenomenon of Donald Trump and the strong conservative Christian support for Trump, which continues to this day,” he recently told Business Insider.
Yet for all the warnings, it appears Trump opponents are the ones more inclined to violence. A University of Chicago report found that while about seven percent of Americans support using violence to restore Trump to office, 11.6% (or an estimated 30 million) would use violence to keep him from the presidency.
IMAGE: Evan El-Amin/Shutterstock