Would Trump Cancel the Election?
By Robert Kuttner | Sep 09, 2019
The story went by so fast that you may have missed it in the welter of other Trump outrages and mishaps. Republican parties in four states—Nevada, Arizona, South Carolina, and Kansas—are on track to cancel the 2020 primaries.
Why would they do such a thing? Because Trump is facing some primary opposition. The crazier he gets, the more the chances increase that he could face more than token opposition in his own party.
The fact that four state parties are moving in tandem and others may follow is no coincidence. This is all orchestrated by the Trump machine.
But can they do this? Canceling elections is the very hallmark of a dictatorship. In principle, yes. Supposedly, this is an internal Republican Party affair, and not a general election. In past years, when an incumbent was running for re-election, primaries were occasionally canceled.
On the other hand, when Dixiecrats tried to preserve an all-white Democratic primary, the Supreme Court intervened in the 1944 decision Smith v. Allwright, holding that the Democratic Party in the South in that era was the only game in town; that even though this was ostensibly an internal party affair, it effectively denied black citizens voting rights.
Of course, that was a very different Supreme Court. Between Trump’s cavalier treatment of canceling elections and increasingly captive courts, we are well on the road to dictatorship.
But one election not likely to be canceled is the 2020 presidential. Not this time anyway. That’s what makes it so urgent.
For more on that, here is my basic talk on my new book, The Stakes.
Available now: The Stakes: 2020 and the Survival of American Democracy by Robert Kuttner