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To those who want to use the 14th Amendment to disqualify Donald Trump from the ballot: What is your endgame? Have you really thought this through? Do you realize this is a monstrous losing scenario, whether successful or not?
We have to remember it’s not just Trump. Tens of millions of our fellow citizens feel alienated from our governments and societal institutions and have gone over to grievance, myths and irrationality. Many political leaders, out of gross ignorance or unprecedented cynicism, have boarded this dissonant bandwagon.
The Supreme Court will ultimately decide this. What if the justices say he stays on the ballot? You’ve just given him a powerful weapon to reinforce the prevailing dogma. You’ve validated the myths of the controlling elites cheating their way to power. Many fence-sitters will migrate over because of this perceived corrupt end-run.
What if the court says he can be scratched? You lose so much worse. The 14th Amendment is much too ambiguous as to how this is to play out in this situation. Political indecision, deadlock and chaos ensues. How can you possibly think that the vast millions who already hold that the 2020 election was stolen will accept this apparent blatant power grab? You create an unimaginable turmoil with the likelihood of scattered or even widespread violence (see Jan. 6). What’s the contingency plan for dealing with that?
Then you have to consider who’s going to be on the Republican side of the ballot. Somebody who will have a much better chance of defeating Biden — with likely huge down-ballot losses — that’s who. Trump is the weakest candidate. He’s a two-time loser in the popular vote. He has huge negatives across a majority of the voting population. The Electoral College map favors the Democrats in a Joe Biden-Trump rematch. Don’t mess with that.
There are no magic hand-waves or secret passages to get Trump off the scene and start rerouting this MAGA side-trip to hell. It will take grit and hard work to send him down to an another defeat and affix the indelible “loser” brand.
The applicability of the 14th Amendment is a nice academic what-if for the constitutional law professors to jabber about. Let’s keep it there.
Dennis Fazio, Minneapolis
If Section 3, Article 14 of the Constitution isn’t applied in this case, it might as well be taken out. I can’t imagine a scenario it would apply to more than the current one.
Mike Schafer, Minnetonka
George Washington law Prof. Jonathan Turley calls the effort to keep Donald Trump off the ballot by using the 14th Amendment “the single most dangerous constitutional theory” he has seen. Turley was referring to the legal theory offered by law Profs. Michael Stokes Paulsen and William Baude highlighted in Sunday’s Star Tribune (“Professor: Constitution bars Trump,” Sept. 10). According to Paulsen and Baude, Trump may be kept of the ballot because his efforts to contest the results of the 2020 election make him ineligible under the 14th Amendment, which bars persons who have supported or given aid and comfort to an insurrection or rebellion from holding federal office. Turley’s point is that Trump hasn’t been charged with insurrection or even incitement.
But even more dangerous is the argument made by some that it isn’t necessary that Trump be convicted to be disqualified. As reported in the Star Tribune article, some legal authorities are suggesting that simply having made an effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election is sufficient for officials who judge qualifications for office to disqualify him. Thankfully, our own Secretary of State Steve Simon understands the danger of that position. Commenting in the same article, Simon assures Minnesotans that the position of his office is that the question of eligibility will be “left for the courts to determine, not me or anyone in our office.”
Ronald Haskvitz, Golden Valley
When former President Bill Clinton’s tenure in the White House was called into question, Hillary Clinton, in defense of her husband’s record, is reported to have asked which they didn’t like, “the peace or the prosperity?” With inflation under control, record-low unemployment, 13 million jobs added to the economy and an end to America’s longest war, can the same not be said to those, especially Democrats, who are less than laudatory when assessing President Joe Biden’s first term in office?
There’s no escaping the reality that the president may be entering the autumn of his life, but whether or not he deserves a second term should be a function of his character, fidelity to the Constitution and successful governance, not an awkward gait or other common signs of aging.
Biden, who is fond of quoting his late father’s life lessons, shared a parental pearl of wisdom in an effort to draw contrast with his likely opponent in 2024: “Don’t compare me to the Almighty. Compare me to the alternative.” The alternative in this instance is Donald Trump.
Jim Paladino, Tampa, Fla.
CBS News has released a survey that shows the vast majority of Americans favor disqualifying anyone over a certain age from being a U.S. president or a U.S. senator. That could lead to throwing out the proverbial baby with the bathwater — even though we’re thinking about people who clearly are not babies. Anyway, there is a much simpler and already legal way to disqualify almost anybody from elected political office. Consider the obvious: Don’t vote for them.
Jim Bartos, Maple Grove
James Lileks’ column in Sunday’s paper about how speech-to-text software seems to be getting worse was both humorous and spot-on (“Phone’s speech-to-text sap cotton wurst?” Sept. 10). The other day, I asked Google for more information about a Twins game. I clicked on the microphone icon in the search box and said: “Twins win over Cleveland 20 to 6.” What came up was “Twins win 5:40.” Not even close. So I enunciated extra carefully the same search words, only to get the same result — not once, but twice. Which leads me to wonder … I’m all in favor of self-driving cars, but if AI can’t understand simple words in a search engine, how can we have faith in its ability to control a car maneuvering around Minnesota roads during all kinds of weather conditions, while having multiple interactions with pedestrians and cars operated by human beings? These things, it would seem, are much more complex than trying to understand what someone is saying.
Willis Woyke, Columbia Heights