On Monday, Donald Trump joked about extending his term past 2024 — again.
Speaking with FIFA President Gianni Infantino outside the White House, Trump said, “Gianni, we're going to have to extend my second term because 2026 — I'm going to have to extend it for a couple of years.” His comment referred to the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which will be hosted in North America.
It wasn’t the first time the President has joked about staying in office past what the Constitution states.
Earlier this year, Trump retweeted a tweet from religious leader Jerry Falwell Jr. that stated, “I now support reparations — Trump should have 2 yrs added to his 1st term as pay back for time stolen by this corrupt failed coup,” referring to Robert Mueller’s investigation.
Last year, in reference to term limits in China, Trump said, “I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll give that a shot someday.”
I don’t think these are anything more than what they appear to be. Jokes. I believe Trump understands how he is perceived by some as autocratic and is unafraid to poke fun at himself and others.
That is, until the news broke last week that some states are cancelling their GOP primaries.
Arizona, Kansas, Nevada and South Carolina’s Republican Parties announced over the past few days that they will not hold Presidential primaries in 2020. It seems likely that more states will follow, given how the GOP and Trump’s re-election campaign have morphed into one entity.
“The four states that canceled it don't want to waste their money,” Trump said. “If there was a race, they would certainly want to do that, but they are considered to be a laughingstock.”
There are few Republicans running against Trump. The three announced candidates — Bill Weld of Massachusetts, Joe Walsh of Illinois and Mark Sanford of Carolina — have next to nothing going for them. Barring any dramatic turn of events (which is entirely possible in the world we live in), Trump would be the Republican nominee for President even if those four states held their primaries.
But it’s not about the other options or however bleak they may be; it’s about democracy.
While the GOP (or DNC, for that matter) isn’t mandated to be a democratic institution — it is simply a political pressure group that organizes its resources to further a common cause — as a matter of principle, it is wrong to allow one person to commandeer a party in such a way.
The moral case against the cancelled primaries is flimsy in that regard, but it makes even less sense from a strategic standpoint to cancel the primaries.
If the GOP hopes to keep the White House in 2020, it should hold primaries in those four states.
The purpose of holding primaries is to allow the public to decide who they want as their representative. In fact, the Democratic Party functioned this way until 1968, when a series of reforms within the party shifted the power toward the popular vote.
Those reforms made it difficult for Democratic state parties to not hold primaries. The history of the Republican primaries are similar, although there is far more freedom for states to do as they please when it comes to primary votes.
By getting rid of the primaries in those four states, the Republican Party is throwing out decades of conventional wisdom. Instead of allowing voters a significant say in who they want on the ballot, Republican elites are making the decision themselves, and that much is dangerous.
If Trump was to lose any primary — again, it’s not likely — it would show that Republican voters want a different President. Instead, by cancelling the primaries, the Republican Party is doubling down and may be ensuring its own failure.
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