OPINION: Keep Trump On the Primary Ballot, Vote Him Out Fairly

Blocking Trump from the primary ballot sets a dangerous precedent for our democracy.

7 mins read

This story is syndicated from The Southerner, the newspaper of Midtown High School in Atlanta, GA. The original version of the story ran here.

Former President Donald Trump has been a focal point of politics since his first campaign and subsequent term as president. While I disagree with several, if not all, of Trump’s viewpoints and actions and will not be voting for him come November, the ability for individual states to block him from the primary ballot sets a dangerous precedent for our democracy, and following the so-called “stolen” election of Pres. Joe Biden in 2020, makes us look hypocritical just like Trump. 

The first decision to remove Trump from the 2024 ballot was made in Colorado by the Colorado Supreme Court, as it deemed Trump ineligible for the White House under the Insurrection Clause in Sect. 3 of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. This two-sentence clause was written post-Civil War to keep Confederates from regaining government power. It has only resurfaced recently because of the attack on Jan. 6, 2021. This “Disqualification Clause states, “Determining who has engaged in either of the two disqualifying activities — that is, engaging in insurrection or rebellion or giving aid or comfort to an enemy — is likely to be a difficult task given the scarcity of precedents and lack of clear definitions.” Given its disclaimer, and because of the situation’s little precedence, it is difficult for prosecutors and judges to clearly define how Trump has violated the Constitution under this clause.

The Colorado Supreme Court claims this clause applies to Trump as he took an oath to uphold the Constitution in his inauguration into the presidency, but then “engaged” in an “insurrection or rebellion” against the presidency, specifically due to what he said in his public speech on Jan. 6 — the clause designates a violation for whoever aids “given comfort to the enemies thereof.”

The second state that joined this historic action was Maine. Trump has since appealed the ruling there, arguing that Democrat Shenna Bellows, the first secretary of state in history to block someone from running for president under the rarely used Insurrection Clause, relied on “untrustworthy evidence.”

Following these decisions by the higher courts of Colorado and Maine, Trump petitioned for a writ of certiorari, asking for the Supreme Court to overrule the decisions. The conservative Court announced its ruling March 4: states may not remove him from federal ballots.

Many voters in 2020 found it ridiculous and frustrating that people who didn’t get the outcome they wanted on the election both violently raided the Capitol and continued in an angry tirade for weeks after, saying that the election results weren’t accurate and that the very foundation of our democracy was threatened. 

But let’s not give Trump’s followers a reason to believe the upcoming election is “rigged” like last term. Already, following Colorado’s decision, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel characterized the ruling as “Election interference” and said the RNC’s legal team intends to help Trump fight it.

People on both sides of the political spectrum have spoken up to keep him on the ballot. Competitor Nikki Haley has declared she will defeat Trump on her own and doesn’t need a judge to take him off the ballot to help her. In an interview with Fox News, she explained, “This started back with COVID. The idea that you have people telling people what to do, how to think, how to live, that’s wrong. If they can do this to him, they’ll do it to someone else. We can’t have others saying, ‘I don’t think he should be on the ballot.’ I think Americans can decide on their own whether they want him to be on the ballot or not.” 

Similarly, Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers said Trump should be kept on the ballot, that Biden should “visit [Wisconsin] to beat him” and that those who think he should be off the ballot should simply “vote against him.” The importance of voting stems back to this exact issue, and we should encourage increased voting participation to make sure Trump stays out of office instead of giving the supporters that he does have ideas to repeat the Jan. 6 attack based on denying them the vote. 

According to a recent CBS News/YouGov poll, 81% of Democrats believe that states should disqualify Trump from presidential ballots. Conversely, 90% of Republicans believe states should keep Trump’s name on the ballot. Because of Trump and the issues sparked by his actions, division in the political parties is heightened. Taking his name off the ballot will further this division and anger those who feel their rights to vote for whom they choose are taken from them. Instead of telling people who they can and cannot vote for — regardless of whether or not that decision is just — simply decide for yourself and do what is in your power to do: in November, go out and vote. 

Register to vote here!


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