The Mess in Maine
The 2024 presidential election is already an unprecedented political quagmire
Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows decided Thursday to remove Donald Trump from the state’s presidential ballot. Jared Golden, a Democratic congressman from Lewiston who voted to impeach Trump over the January 6th riots, quickly issued a statement:
We are a nation of laws, therefore until he is actually found guilty of the crime of insurrection, he should be allowed on the ballot.
Eight years ago this month, the big story in the presidential race was whether or not Trump was out of line in saying Hillary Clinton got “schlonged” in the 2008 primary. A Washington Post “linguistic investigation” quoted Steven Pinker in saying that “given Trump’s history of vulgarity… it’s entirely possible that he had created a sexist term for ‘defeat,’” but the paper concluded that Trump’s problem was that “he’s a gentile who, linguistically, may have wandered too far from home.”
Normally campaign season is a period of heightened engagement, as people scour the Internet to research even the most inane questions, knowing that at the end of the process, they get to cast votes on them. It’s why news companies tend to fatten up in election years, like Grizzlies during salmon runs. People are absorbed by dramas in which they feel themselves to be participants.
This year the public is being forced to research questions in which they have no say. We all understand now that there’s a disqualification clause in the 14th Amendment. We also understand that this clause seems to have been written with deliberate vagueness. I’m no lawyer, but I doubt the 14th Amendment was designed to empower unelected state officials to unilaterally strike major party frontrunners from the presidential ballot. If it was, that’s a shock. I must have missed that in AP Insane Legal Loopholes class. Is there any way this ends well? It feels harder and harder to imagine.