Four separate sets of criminal charges, including a total of 91 felony counts, have been brought against former president Donald Trump, according to AP News. These indictments span multiple jurisdictions, from New York, Florida, and Georgia, and a federal case. With legal battles on the horizon, some have called for Trump to be banned from running for president again. I argue that Trump should not be banned from the 2024 presidential election because of the potential legal and political implications this holds.
Banning Trump from the 2024 ballot hinges on the interpretation Section Three of the 14th Amendment, which states no one holding an office of the government “shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” Banning a former president from running for office could also potentially diminish trust in the democratic electoral process. Some may interpret such a ban as an attempt to silence a legitimate political voice, which could potentially deepen the political divide in the country.
Trump’s rhetoric and repeated claims of election fraud in the weeks leading up to the insurrection played a pivotal role in inciting the violence that unfolded on Jan. 6. The Associated Press reports that he called for followers to “fight like hell” to overturn the election results, which he insisted was won through “ballot harvesting and thousands of dead people voting.”
His delayed response to call in the National Guard during the attack on the Capitol, despite learning about the assault minutes after he returned to the White House, has been scrutinized, as detailed by the Military Times. The central question for debate is whether Trump’s actions on Jan. 6 meet the criteria of “Insurrection or Rebellion.”
The interpretation of the 14th Amendment is subjective. Trump’s attorney Geoffrey Blue argues that his speech, while inflammatory, does not meet the legal threshold for incitement to insurrection. “At no time do Petitioners argue that President Trump did anything other than engage in either speaking or refusing to speak for their argument that he engaged in the purported insurrection,” Blue wrote.
We can’t ignore the political implications of banning Trump from mrunning for president. One of the fundamental principles of democracy is allowing the people to choose their leaders through free and fair elections. Banning Trump from running for president could be seen as an infringement on the democratic process, as it restricts the choices available to voters and could set a concerning precedent, potentially allowing political elites to determine who can and cannot run for office, undermining the principle of government by the people.
Beyond these considerations, there is a crucial concern regarding the potential impact on social cohesion and political stability, according to Vox. Given his significant following, a ban on Trump could provoke strong reactions from his supporters.
It is essential to explore alternative ways of addressing concerns about Donald Trump’s candidacy. While a ban is one option, it is not the sole avenue for achieving accountability. One alternative is to rely on the legal system to address the charges presented through due process. If he is found guilty of any charges that disqualify him from running for president, the legal system should take appropriate action.
Another alternative is to place the decision in the hands of the voters. In a democracy, it is ultimately the people who determine the fitness of a candidate for office. Instead of preemptively banning Trump, voters should have the opportunity to evaluate his candidacy in future elections. This approach respects the electorate’s role in making decisions.
Ultimately, the path chosen should be one that upholds the principles of justice, fairness, and democratic values. While it’s necessary to hold Trump accountable, banning him from the ballot is not the solution to this issue, and will only further stoke the flames of political polarization, and weaken trust in democratic institutions. The decision whether to ban Trump from running for president must be made with a keen awareness of these implications and a commitment to safeguarding the principles upon which American democracy was built.