Boss Trump can’t suspend elections, but Congress should do more to protect them
Oh, goodness, he’s finally done it.
The ultimate weapon of every autocrat is to suspend elections, denying the people a fair chance to throw the bum out, and Donald Trump finally has gone there.
On Thursday, Trump dared to float the idea of delaying the November elections because — and this is nonsense — the pandemic would make fair elections impossible.
Just the day before he had insisted, once again, that mail-in voting during the pandemic inevitably would be rife with fraud — again based on nothing. And earlier in the week, Trump’s postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, contributed to this desperate, lastminute attempt to subvert the democratic process by announcing that he’s going to shut down post offices.
Because if the integrity of mail-in elections can, in fact, be trusted now, Trump and lackeys want to do their best to destroy that integrity and trust.
If you can’t win in an election — and every poll says Trump stands little chance of that in November — the next best thing is to kill the election. John Lewis fought for the vote
Much of this, ironically, played out on Thursday at precisely the same time former President Barack Obama and others were eulogizing the late Rep. John Lewis, the great fighter for civil rights, by calling for stronger protections for our right to vote.
As a young man, Lewis suffered through beatings, jailings and death threats to secure that right.
If there is a general nervousness about mail-in voting, which is sure to be preferred by millions more Americans because of the pandemic, the answer is not to do a Vladimir Putin and suspend elections, which Trump can’t do anyway without congressional approval. There is no way Democrats would agree — and we sure wish we could say the same about Republicans.
The answer is to further bolster the integrity of those elections.
That means, as we argued earlier this week, including a minimum of $3.6 billion for local election security efforts in the next coronavirus economic relief package, as House Democrats have called for.
It also means going to bat for the postal service, which was $8.8 billion in the red last year.
Congress should eliminate a requirement that the postal service pre-fund billions of dollars in health care benefits each year for future retirees, an obligation imposed on no other federal agency. Congress should, in addition, give the postal service $25 billion as part of the next stimulus package, as proposed by House Democrats. The funds would keep the agency afloat, cover COVID-19-related expenses and ensure the timely delivery of mail-in ballots in November. Spanish flu couldn’t stop us
In 1918, the Spanish flu was ravaging the United States, killing hundreds of thousands of people. But nobody seriously talked about suspending that year’s midterm elections.
There were bans on public gatherings. Candidates couldn’t give the usual speeches. And on election night, newspapers were prohibited from posting the results on billboards outside their offices — a custom back then — because that might draw a crowd.
The turnout was lower than usual. About 40% of eligible voters cast ballots, down from the 50 to 52% of previous midterm elections. But we had an election.
Trump knows he’s talking through his MAGA hat. He knows the Nov. 3 election will take place no matter what he and his fellow sellouts of democracy might like. His real intent is to sow distrust in the very institution of free elections, in the same way he trashes judges who rule against him and four-star generals who stand up to him.
But we are Americans. We believe in selfrule, even in the hardest of times.
“I have said this before, and I will say it again,” Lewis once said. “The vote is precious. It is almost sacred. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democracy.”
President Donald Trump on Thursday floated the idea of suspending the November elections because of the coronavirus pandemic.