Donald Trump, Dream City Church, Phoenix, AZ
President Donald J. Trump speaking at an "An Address to Young Americans" event at Dream City Church in Phoenix, AZ. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Using Section 3 of the 14th Amendment is the latest silver bullet that Trump’s opponents hope will vanquish the former president. But that can only happen in one place: the ballot box in November.

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A growing number of people on the left, as well as a small contingent of conservatives who could be called the “sane right,” are hoping that the 14th Amendment will preclude Donald Trump from running for president again next year.

At first glance, that argument might have some merit. Section 3 of the amendment says that anybody who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the US shall not hold elected office again.

The possibility of being kept off ballots in some states has spooked the former president enough to weigh in on the issue.

On Monday he took to social media with yet another rambling and nonsensical diatribe. In short, Trump claims that “almost all legal scholars have voiced opinions that the 14th Amendment has no legal basis or standing relative to the upcoming 2024 Presidential Election.”

Even the parts of that sentence that make sense grammatically are not true, but it really doesn’t matter.

Sure, it’s not difficult to make a case that this applies to Trump, who engaged in multiple acts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and will soon be on trial for several of them.

But let’s just say the 14th Amendment is successfully used to keep the former president off a few ballots. What do you think would happen next? That Trump would just say, “Well, if that’s what the Constitution says, then I’ll just abandon my presidential campaign, which is my ‘get out of jail free’ card, and retire. Oh, and I’ll tell my cult-like supporters not to be mad”?

Or that the entire MAGAverse would go ballistic?

If you think that there is even a sliver of a remote chance that the former would happen, then you haven’t been paying attention these past few years.

No, the 14th Amendment fantasy is just that — the latest in a series of events and schemes that Trump’s opponents have hoped would derail him for good.

It all started with the Access Hollywood tape on which then-candidate Trump admitted that he sexually assaulted women. But that didn’t prevent him from getting elected.

Then there was the second impeachment, which was related to Trump’s actions leading up to the January 6 insurrection. During the Senate trial, Republicans could have voted to convict the then-president, but they didn’t do it because they hoped that his behavior was so bad that, certainly, his political career was over.

But it was not. And neither was the jig up when he lost the 2020 election by 7 million votes.

And just like none of these things made Trump go away, neither will his upcoming trials, even if he’s convicted. As things stand, he would easily win the Republican nomination from jail, and there is nothing GOP leaders could do at their convention to change that — at least not without losing the support of half their party.

All of these strategies are just fantasies that people cling to who don’t want to do the hard work of confronting Trump.

It is pretty clear that this will once again not happen in the GOP primary, which means there is only one way to stop Trump that will (kind of) put an end to his ambitions: A crushing defeat next November.

Sure, he will cry foul again, but it will just have to be convincing enough to make a second Big Lie look even more ridiculous than the original.

Oh, and it would be nice if other Republicans would grow a spine for once. 

This article was originally published on August 29, 2023 and updated September 6, 2023. 


  • Klaus Marre

    Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, former congressional reporter, and director of the WhoWhatWhy Mentor Apprentice Program. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre.

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