Democrats plan to copy Obama's tactics to win in November
In North Carolina, a group of voters is suing to keep U.S. rep. Madison Cawthorn off the ballot. They allege that, because he attended the January 6 rally, he violated the 14th Amendment's prohibition against allowing anyone to run for office if he "engaged in insurrection or rebellion against" the Constitution. This is a trial run for an attack Democrats intend to make against Donald Trump and myriad Republicans whose congressional seats Democrats crave. It's also the Obama tactic: get your opponents off the ballot before the election.
According to AP News:
A group of North Carolina voters urged state officials Monday to disqualify U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn as a congressional candidate, citing his participation in a rally last January in Washington that questioned the presidential election outcome and preceded the Capitol riot.
Cawthorn's office quickly condemned the candidacy challenge, filed on behalf of 11 voters before the State Board of Elections, which oversees the scrutiny of candidates' qualifications. The voters contend that Cawthorn, a Republican who formally filed as a candidate for the 13th District seat last month, can't run because he fails to comply with an amendment in the U.S. Constitution ratified shortly after the Civil War.
The 14th Amendment says no one can serve in Congress "who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress . . . to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same."
The charge is ludicrous. The 14th Amendment was enacted in 1868, three years after the Civil War ended. That war began when the South seceded from the Union, set itself up as an independent country, and fired on Fort Sumter in an act of open warfare. It ended four years later with 600,000 Americans dead, the South in ruins, and the foul institution of slavery, which was always an offense to American principles, gone. It was in this context that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was ratified to prevent Confederate officials from using Congress as a vehicle to undo their loss in the War. By 1878, the Amnesty Act almost certainly renders this clause a nullity.
Image by Andrea Widburg.
What's certain is that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was not intended to bar from Congress someone who attended a peaceful rally on the same day that 500 hotheads (or people deliberately entrapped) entered the Capitol and did...nothing of note. That's why none has been charged with "rebellion or insurrection." There were no weapons, there was no plan, and the only person who died was murdered by a police officer.
It's clear that the attack against Cawthorn is a trial run. Marc Elias, the attorney whose name crops up in connection with every bit of skullduggery and corruption aimed at Trump, has already announced that there will be a "serious discussion" about unseating multiple Republicans under that Civil War–specific clause.
My prediction for 2022: Before the midterm election, we will have a serious discussion about whether individual Republican House Members are disqualified by Section 3 of the 14th Amendment from serving in Congress.— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) December 21, 2021
We may even see litigation. pic.twitter.com/pF7P2fw0kn
I am making clear that members of Congress who engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States are not eligible to serve in Congress.— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) December 22, 2021
The fact that this is so triggering to the GOP speaks volumes. https://t.co/R0QEUDnmZo
Opposing election results was a common Democrat party tactic that became an "insurrection or rebellion" only when Republicans engaged in it.
Additionally, the effort to get opponents knocked off the ballot is a page from the Barack Obama playbook: Obama did that in 1996, when his team of volunteers managed to get every opponent kicked off the ballot on technical grounds. Most famously, Obama's "clear the ballot" strategy was in play during the 2004 election that saw Obama enter the United States Senate:
During his senatorial primary campaign in Illinois in 2004 the campaign of his most-feared opponent imploded spectacularly just a few weeks before polling day. Unsealed divorce papers revealed that Blair Hull's former wife had detailed several allegations of verbal and physical abuse. His ex asked for a restraining order because Hull had threatened to kill her. In a field of eight, Obama won 53% of the vote.
In the general election that year, Republican candidate Jack Ryan seemed like a viable challenger for the senate seat until his divorce papers were also unsealed. Ryan, it was alleged, had pressured his ex, Jeri, to go to clubs where people had sex in public. One had "cages, whips and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling"; another had mattresses in cubicles. It did not help that Jeri was a TV star who had worn tight-fitting body suits on Star Trek. Denying the allegations, Ryan nevertheless dropped out, in June. Five months before the election Obama had no opponent.
Because Republicans running for re-election (including Donald Trump) don't have useful sex scandals that can knock them off the ballot, the Democrats are creating a scandal out of whole cloth. They are turning a protest — one that was a mere nothing compared to Democrat protests in D.C. — into the justification for running unopposed in 2022 and 2024.
It is to be hoped that neither the courts nor the voters let the Democrats get away with this tactic. It spells the end of a functional constitutional, democratic republic if they do.