Even if Garland is foolish enough to indict Trump, he can still run and win
The unlawfully constituted and conducted January 6 Committee referred Donald Trump for a criminal indictment to keep him from running again in 2024. The problem for the Democrats, unfamiliar as they are with the Constitution and with American history, is that there is no reason for Trump not to run and win, even if he’s deep in the bowels of Leavenworth or some other federal penitentiary.
The United States Constitution is succinct when it comes to the requirements for president. Article II, Section 1 provides:
No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
That’s it: Natural-born citizen, at least 35 years old, and living in the U.S. for 14 years. There is no requirement saying that someone charged with, or having been convicted of, or even being imprisoned for any type of crime is ineligible to serve. Democrats would add to the requirement Amend. 14, Sec. 3, barring those engaged in insurrection or rebellion, but they’re wrong. (See below.)
What Democrats forget is that the U.S. has already had a felon convicted of sedition run for president while in prison without anyone complaining that doing so disqualified him. That man was Eugene V. Debs, an ardent socialist from Indiana, who was one of the founding members of the Industrial Workers of the World (aka the “Wobblies”).
Image: Eugene Debs runs for president from prison by Clifford Berryman. Public Domain.
Unlike today’s American leftists, whose socialism is grounded in race and sexual orientation, the Wobblies were pure Marxists who dreamed that the workers of the world would unite in a glorious global socialist paradise. (The WEF has a similar dream: the elite of the world will unite in a glorious paradise, one in which the sad remnants of the WEF’s planned human die-off will work for these new demigods, have nothing, and like it…or else.)
In 1897, Debs founded the Social Democracy of America, which quickly failed. It, in turn, gave birth to the Social Democratic Party of the United States (“SDP”), and Debs became a board member. In 1900, Debs ran for president as the candidate for the Social Democratic Party of the United States. When that group disbanded, he joined the Socialist Party of America (“SPA”). Under the SPA’s banner, he ran for president in 1904, 1908, 1912, and 1920 as the SPA’s representative. It’s the 1920 election that is the one that interests us.
Debs opposed America’s involvement in WWI. Wilson, the father of today’s expert- and race-obsessed Progressives, identified him as a traitor and, in 1918, when Debs made a speech urging men to resist the draft, he was arrested and charged with sedition—which falls under the same umbrella as insurrection. Debs was found guilty and sentenced to ten years in prison. He was also disenfranchised from voting. What the court could not do, though, was prevent Debs from running for president.
Despite his conviction and imprisonment, Debs ran for president in 1920 and received almost 1 million votes (or 3.4% of the total votes cast). Neither his criminal record nor his address (the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary) was a barrier to his candidacy.
In 1923, Warren G. Harding commuted Deb’s sentence to time served. Deb’s lived another three years, dying at 70 from heart failure.
Debs’ life and candidacy stand as absolute proof that there is nothing to bar President Trump from running for president, no matter what the Democrats do to him. The Democrats’ recurring fever dreams about knocking Trump out under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment (the Disqualification Clause) are nonsense, both objectively and historically.
They’re nonsense objectively because the clause, ratified in 1868, was manifestly intended to apply to men who served in or aided the Confederacy in a four-year war that saw 600,000 American deaths. The clause was also rendered a nullity by the 1878 Amnesty Act. They’re nonsense historically because the clause did not bar Debs, a convicted seditionist, from running for president—and this was only two years after WWI ended. Americans of all stripes understand that the Disqualification Clause related solely to the Civil War.
If Garland is wise, he will refuse to charge Trump with anything, recognizing that doing so will make Trump a martyr, thereby increasing his standing with ordinary Americans. (I have no expectation that Garland will be wise enough to understand that the charges represent a blatantly unprincipled, purely political effort to sideline a beloved politician.) However, if Garland is not wise, Trump can run, may win, and once having won, can pardon himself, making for a glorious victory, indeed.