On Thursday as three presidents and the nation remembered the consequential life of U.S. Rep. John Lewis at an Atlanta funeral, the current president of the United States schemed to get into headlines by actually suggesting something expected in banana republics — not our democracy. He had the gall to float the idea that the November election should be postponed.
And thereby, he showed his political cards — he’s frightened, desperately trying to figure out a way to do anything to lower expectations, make excuses, suppress turnout, slyly encourage outside influence and interfere with fair and free elections.
No, Mr. President. You’re wrong. You need to stop the great election con of 2020 and get down to trying to win, if that’s what you want, not take us deeper into the swamp of malfeasance by corrupting the process.
You can’t stop or change the date of the election “until people can properly, securely and safely vote,” as you’ve said. People can now vote with confidence thanks to increased election vigilance, new machines and new security after the 2016 election, which you took despite losing the popular vote.
“Article II of the Constitution empowers Congress to choose the timing of the general election,” according to The New York Times. Furthermore, “an 1845 federal law fixed the date as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.” With Democrats in control of the U.S. House, no bill will be signed into law to move the election.
Republicans on Capitol Hill isolated Trump on his banana-republic idea of changing the election, a few meekly spouting that he probably was kidding. Other supporters roundly criticized the suggestion.
“Never in the history of the country, through wars, depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky. “We’ll find a way to do that again this Nov. 3.”
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., added during a Senate hearing, “In South Carolina, we had a very large primary in June and were able to do it in person. I think we can be able to safely vote in person in November. I think delaying the election probably wouldn’t be a good idea.”
The consequence of not having free elections at a certain time was clear to Abraham Lincoln in 1864 during a civil war ripping apart the country: “We can not have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us.”
The notion of postponing elections is a red herring floated by a panicked elected official who sees the economy caving because of his failure of leadership during a time of pandemic. Rather than fixing problems, he obfuscates, squirting out the black ink of an octopus to try to slither towards safety.
Trump should start emulating a man that he has tried to harm for years, former President Barack Obama, who spoke eloquently about the need to expand voting and freedom, not try to fix elections, during the Thursday funeral for Lewis. Referring to past hurdles for voting for blacks before the civil rights movement, Obama said:
“We may no longer have to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar in order to cast a ballot. But even as we sit here, there are those in power (that) are doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting — by closing polling locations, and targeting minorities and students with restrictive ID laws, and attacking our voting rights with surgical precision, even undermining the Postal Service in the run-up to an election that is going to be dependent on mailed-in ballots so people don’t get sick.
Obama then called on elected leaders to strengthen a recently-weakened federal Voting Rights Act to encourage turnout on election day by automatically registering all Americans to vote, adding polling places and making election day a national holiday.
Voting is sacred to democracy. Fiddling with it shows a loathing disdain for freedom. Knock it off, Mr. President.