Over a late dinner last night, after learning that the Maine Secretary of State had determined that Trump was ineligible to be on the Republican primary ballot, I was asked why there could be any question as to the propriety of applying Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. I put on my lawyer voice and began explaining canons of statutory construction, the constitutional meaning of the word “officer,” and how there were two, and only two, positions in our government that were nationally elected, the president and vice president, distinguishing them from the expressly named elected officials in Section 3.*
As eyes glazed over, and head began to shake from side to side, Dr. SJ asked “How is it possible that the president, THE PRESIDENT, wouldn’t be included in Section 3?” As I was about to reply that “asking a question is not an argument,” a reply that has never caused Dr. SJ to feel warmly about me, another person at the table responded, “Why, since everybody but the MAGA crazies knows that Trump is a lying, venal, narcissistic ignoramus, can’t the Democrats just beat him?”
It’s a very good question.
There’s Biden’s age. He may not be much older than Trump, but he appears enfeebled and likely unable to serve out another term as president. And nobody wants Kamala Harris as president. Trump, despite his myriad failings, comes off as far more vigorous than Biden.
There’s the schism between the liberal majority of the Democratic party and the radical progressive wing. Biden has proven himself too moderate for the progressives and too progressive for the moderates. He’s been trying to thread the needle for the past three years, satisfying no one. Now, his position on Israel and Gaza has so outraged the progressive wing that they’re calling him a fascist dictator and his supporters “blue MAGA.” Without the support of the progressive wing, Biden won’t have the votes.
Will the left wing of the party abandon Biden and either support Trump or, more likely, not vote? While it’s hard to imagine that they will sit idly by while Trump wins, they’re doctrainaire enough to do so, and their increasingly outraged rhetoric suggests that they may well choose the least utilitarian path so they can wrap themselves in the glory of rightesous misery for the next four years.
There’s the border problem, which has proven a nightmare for both Biden and Trump, not to mention the “sanctuary” cities that were so very supportive of undocumented immigrants until they had to feed and house them.
There’s the economy, which isn’t nearly as bad as many feel it is, but isn’t nearly as good as Biden supporters want people to believe it is. Inflation has always been an election killer, and no amount of statistics and charts makes the cost of bread feel any better. People work to do better, not to stay slightly behind the rate of inflation, even when it’s increasing at a decreasing rate.
There’s crime, which is statistically going down for the most part but appears to be worse because its both in our face and instead of condemning it, the left makes excuses for it. Part of this is the illegal conduct employed in furtherance of radical causes, which the left sees as “mostly peaceful protest” while everyone else is pretty darn angry about it. And yet, there they are, doing it, and doing it some more, and there is no sense that anything is being done to prevent it and the Democrats aren’t interested in getting protesters off the highway so we can get to our planes on time.
If the problem was just beating Trump, the answer would seem pretty clear. Be normal. Be liberal. Reject the radicals and give the majority of Americans a nation that doesn’t seem to be in the constant throes of fringe outrage. Or is there nothing clear about it and despite the absolute certainty of the Democrats that they’re the good guys on the right side of history, they just can’t seem to muster the support to crush Trump and put an end to this national nightmare? Why resort to arguing over the interpretation of Section 3 when they should be able to just win?
*In a New York Times op-ed, Kurt Lash provides a pretty good explanation of the legal arguments involved. Curiously, the reader comments range from “nah” to “YOU’RE WRONG!!!”