Sunday, August 2, 2020

"Trump is now going after a core pillar of our democracy. Will anyone do anything about it before it is too late?"

(CNN) On the same day that three former US presidents joined in a moving tribute to civil rights hero John Lewis and just after the release of government data showing the worst quarterly plunge in economic activity ever recorded, President Donald Trump tried to seize control of the news agenda with a jaw-dropping suggestion: Consider delaying the November election.
The idea, delivered in a tweet Thursday morning, was quickly blasted by commentators -- even members of Trump's own party in Congress. But it did keep his name in the headlines.

"It's insulting to the American public to even suggest that this sacred constitutional right should be undermined by an authoritarian President tanking in the national polls to Joe Biden," wrote historian Douglas Brinkley. "From the earliest days of the republic, regular elections and orderly transfer of power have been signatures of American democracy," he added, noting that even in wartime voting dates have been sacred.

But the tweet had a purpose, John Avlon pointed out: to sow doubt in the election results. Trump "is terrified that he will be exposed as a loser," and is "willing to dismantle faith in our democracy to avoid that personal pain."

In the New Yorker, Susan Glasser warned, "this is the kind of statement that should haunt your dreams. It is wannabe-dictator talk. It is dangerous even if it is not attached to any actions. And those who think that some actions will not follow have not been paying attention. My alarm stems from having covered Russia when Vladimir Putin was dismantling the fragile, flawed democratic institutions that the country had established after the fall of the Soviet Union."

"The upcoming election is our biggest opportunity to check a runaway President," noted Julian Zelizer. But with his attacks on the legitimacy of the election and on mail-in voting, Zelizer wrote, "Trump is now going after a core pillar of our democracy ... will anyone do anything about it before it is too late?" (CNN).

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