Elections

Delaying the Election Would Be Grotesque and Un-American

President Donald Trump speaks about legislation for additional coronavirus aid in the Oval Office at the White House, July 20, 2020. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

President Trump outdid himself this morning with a tweet floating the idea of delaying the election.

Obviously, this is an incendiary and absurd idea unworthy of being spoken — or even thought — by a president of the United States.

Top congressional Republicans poured scorn on the idea, and should continue to do so.

Trump obviously doesn’t have the power to delay the election. The Constitution gives Congress the power to fix the date of the election, and since 1845, it’s been the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. This is such an ingrained tradition that it is part of the warp and woof of American democracy.

It is a tribute to our commitment to self-government that elections have occurred as scheduled on this day during the worst crises of American history — when federal troops were in the field against rebel troops who sought to destroy the nation, when the unemployment rate was 25 percent, when U.S. forces were engaged in an epic struggle to save the West from the depredations of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

Trump doesn’t understand this, or doesn’t care. It is another indication of how little he’s let the institution of the presidency shape him, and how selfishly he approaches his duties.

The proximate cause of his tweet was his frequently expressed opposition to mail-in voting. We prefer in-person voting, as a matter of ballot security and civic ritual, but given concerns over any sizable gatherings of people during the pandemic, states are inevitably going to embrace more mail-in voting. This raises the prospect of an excruciating overtime after the election if it’s close because it takes so long to count mail-in ballots.

This is a legitimate concern. But it’s no reason for the sitting president of the United States to affirmatively undermine faith in an election that can, should, and indubitably will take place on its appointed day, as it has throughout the history of the world’s greatest republic.

The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

The Judicial Branch Ragnarök Is Upon Us

As expected, President Trump selected Amy Coney Barrett as his third nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, and now the Judicial Branch Ragnarök and Related Festival of Catholic-Bashing is upon us. Senate Democrats could argue that based upon Barrett’s past decisions, they don’t agree with her legal ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The Judicial Branch Ragnarök Is Upon Us

As expected, President Trump selected Amy Coney Barrett as his third nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, and now the Judicial Branch Ragnarök and Related Festival of Catholic-Bashing is upon us. Senate Democrats could argue that based upon Barrett’s past decisions, they don’t agree with her legal ... Read More

The Arson Party

About that peaceful transfer of power . . . I do not have access to my friend Mario Loyola’s Donald J. Trump super-secret decoder ring, but I am inclined to accept Loyola’s explanation that what President Trump was trying to say, but couldn’t quite manage to say, was the usual witless Trump trolling -- ... Read More

The Arson Party

About that peaceful transfer of power . . . I do not have access to my friend Mario Loyola’s Donald J. Trump super-secret decoder ring, but I am inclined to accept Loyola’s explanation that what President Trump was trying to say, but couldn’t quite manage to say, was the usual witless Trump trolling -- ... Read More
Elections

What’s at Stake in 2020

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has clarified what is at stake in the 2020 election. It is not, as some believe, democracy itself. Nor is it, as others assume, our continued existence as a nation. Democracy will survive Donald Trump, and the United States of America will outlast Joe Biden. The question that 2020 ... Read More
Elections

What’s at Stake in 2020

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has clarified what is at stake in the 2020 election. It is not, as some believe, democracy itself. Nor is it, as others assume, our continued existence as a nation. Democracy will survive Donald Trump, and the United States of America will outlast Joe Biden. The question that 2020 ... Read More
Energy & Environment

Is a ‘Climate Lockdown’ Next?

You knew they would try to pivot off the draconian COVID policies and use climate change as the pretext to deploy the same rigid controls over our lives. Now, perhaps a trial balloon is being floated for a “climate lockdown.” The noxious idea is that we are at (yet another) tipping point, and that unless ... Read More
Energy & Environment

Is a ‘Climate Lockdown’ Next?

You knew they would try to pivot off the draconian COVID policies and use climate change as the pretext to deploy the same rigid controls over our lives. Now, perhaps a trial balloon is being floated for a “climate lockdown.” The noxious idea is that we are at (yet another) tipping point, and that unless ... Read More