Good grief. For months, Donald Trump’s allies and even a few of his critics have blasted Democrats and a handful of media figures for their baseless theories that the president would cancel or delay the national election. Joe Biden got ridiculed for saying in April, “Mark my words: I think he is gonna try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can’t be held,” even though the law and the constitution are clear that presidents can’t do that.
And then Trump … just … tweeted it out:
With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2020
The best that could be said for this tweet is that Trump’s just spitballing, but even that’s an indictment of its own. No president should just be spitballing a suggestion like this, not in public and not even in private, where it would leak to the press quickly enough anyway. The US held an election in the middle of its Civil War in 1864; we can hold an election in the middle of a pandemic, especially when the president himself keeps insisting we can and should reopen for business.
This is an exceedingly dumb idea, any way one looks at it, which is another reason to refrain from publicly entertaining it. Theoretically, Congress could postpone the election, as the requirement to hold it on a certain date is set in statute passed by Congress (the Presidential Election Day Act of 1845), but what would be the point? The Constitution ends the president’s term on January 20, and that is a hard out, as we say in the radio biz. Congress can’t authorize an extension of Trump’s term past that point without amending the Constitution, and needless to say, Trump won’t get thirty-eight states to approve extending a Trump term in office. The issue of the transition from one session of Congress to another is a bit more ambiguous, but it’s also possible that we won’t have a legitimate Congress in place either without amending the Constitution once again. And doing so within less than five months, too.
Rather than recognize those impossibilities and leave it as a paranoid-conspiracy theory for the Left, Trump has essentially vindicated Biden and the paranoids. And for what purpose? Trump can’t do what he’s suggesting, Congress wouldn’t entertain the thought for one hot second (they’re just six months out from an attempt to remove him), and it won’t work anyway for the reasons above. What could possibly be gained from tweeting out this absurd idea, other than perhaps distracting from the bad GDP report everyone was more or less expecting anyway? It’s such a bad argument that it actually might set back the legitimate arguments to avoid mail-in balloting.
Trump just handed his political opponents and the media (but I repeat myself) a very big bat. And the beating won’t stop until their morale improves.