Trump jittery about November elections

President Donald Trump surprised all by tweeting on July 30 that the upcoming presidential election should be delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Trump expressed his apprehensions about voting mail-in voting and said that people should be able to vote properly, securely and safely. Following the pandemic that has been afflicting the US and countries across the world since January this year, several states in the US have been considering mail-in voting to avoid in-person voting which might violate the social distancing norms. Since the time Trump sent out his tweet there have been relentless counter tweets telling him that he too mailed-in his vote in the last presidential election. Many intellectuals and academics in the US have spoken out. They include Steven G Calabresi, co-founder of the Federalist Society and a Professor at the Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law, who was, until very recently, a staunch supporter of Trump.

Calabresi in an article in the New York Times wrote that he had taken as political hyperbole the assertion by Democrats that Donald Trump is a fascist but the latest tweet only confirmed what they said and is in itself grounds for the president’s immediate impeachment again by the House of Representatives and his removal from office by the Senate.

The US has faced many grave challenges in the past but no presidential election was ever cancelled or delayed. It weathered the Great Depression (1929-1933) and World War II (1939-1945) and stuck to the election schedule. Trump’s poor handling of the Covid-19 crisis and his flip-flop stances on treatment protocols; especially the violation of mask wearing protocol supposed to be the prime prevention against the spread of the virus has angered Americans, including those who earlier supported him. Increasingly, Americans believe that the mail-in voting will encourage many more to vote because of their fears of Covid-19 and its aftermath.

It will finally depend on the 50 states to decide whether they will allow universal mail-in voting. Article II of the US Constitution gives the states explicit powers over the selection of presidential electors. Election Day was fixed by a federal law passed in 1845, and the US Constitution in the 20th Amendment specifies that the newly elected Congress should meet on Jan. 3, 2021, and that the terms of the president and vice president end on Jan. 20, 2021. If no newly elected president is available, the speaker of the House of Representatives becomes the acting president. The faltering Republicans need to tell President Trump that he cannot postpone the federal election. Doing so would be illegal, unconstitutional and without precedent in American history. Anyone who says otherwise should never be elected to Congress again says Michael Beschloss, a historian of US presidential history.

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