The Democrats have their backs to the wall. A recent Rasmussen polling has shown Joe Biden as low as a 33 percent approval, with correspondingly historic low approval numbers for Democrats in Congress. Dozens of Congressional Democrats have announced they are not seeking reelection in the 2022 midterms.
Fear is bringing desperation to the Left. They compare January 6 to Pearl Harbor and 9/11, and accuse GOP state legislatures of supporting "Jim Crow 2.0" with new election integrity laws.
However, these tactics seem to have also backfired. Polls are still dismal. Independents, minorities, and even young people still seem to be leaving the party in alarming numbers. The situation has emboldened Donald Trump to consider running again.
So, an even more desperate strategy is brewing: An attempt to eliminate Trump and his political allies through the "insurrection" provision of Article 3 of the 14th Amendment. This is something we have seen in failing third-world democracies, and something we cannot tolerate here.
Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is the most recent example of a desperate leader resorting to this strategy. Before the 2010 Iraqi Parliamentary elections, Maliki was behind in public support so he sought to use the allegation of “Baathist” to take out political opponents in the same way the Democrats are using “insurrectionist.”
According to retired U.K. Colonel Ben Barry, Maliki influenced “the Iraqi de-Baathification committee to cancel the candidacy of over 500 allegedly Baathist electoral candidates, including some who already held public office…”. Maliki narrowly lost in the initial elections, but then won by “inducing further candidate disqualifications by the de-Baathification Commission.” He turned out to be a catastrophically poor leader, which led to ISIS seizing substantial parts of Iraq among other problems.
The insurrection provision of the 14th Amendment does not apply now as its surrounding history makes clear. It was employed at the end of the Civil War in 1865 for a specific reason. Former Confederate politicians attempted to re-seat themselves in the US Congress where they had served prior to the war. The 14th Amendment was passed in 1868, and the intent of the insurrection provision was to prevent that dynamic.
The 14th Amendment insurrection provision reads "no person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military" if they've "previously taken an oath … to support the Constitution of the United States" and then "engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof."
Current Republican members of Congress were not involved in insurrection or rebellion. Some legally challenged certain Biden electors on January 6, but Democrats had previously done the same against George Bush and Donald Trump electors. Neither politicians who spoke at the peaceful and legal rally before the Capitol Hill riots, nor those who had contacts with those who later rioted met 14th Amendment insurrection standards.
Regardless, the Left has moved swiftly with the insurrection strategy. According to The Hill, “Free Speech For People, has mounted a pressure campaign on top state elections officials to apply the 14th Amendment to Trump should he run again……. This summer, the group sent letters to chief election officials for all 50 states and Washington, D.C., making the case that they have a constitutional duty to bar Trump from appearing on future state ballots.”
Democrats have already attempted to impeach Trump solely to keep him from running again. That act was quite controversial, as many legal scholars held that a former president could not be tried by the Senate. Trump is now leading in most 2024 rematch polls. Many media sources, like The Week, have picked up on the Democrat motivations. “The appeal of this strategy is obvious. Trump's enduring and overwhelming popularity among Republican voters makes him the favorite for the 2024 nomination if he chooses to run. It's far too early to forecast his prospects in the general election. But negative partisanship is probably sufficient to give him a good chance of victory.” The tactic will quite likely fail in the courts.
Even if he doesn’t run, this strategy poses a threat well beyond Trump to many Republicans seeking office. Congressman Madison Cawthorn, the youngest person elected to Congress in 2020, and a paraplegic, is facing an election challenge from a group of Democrats using the insurrection provision of the 14th Amendment. This comes due to Cawthorn’s alleged connections with some people involved with the Jan 6 riots. Attorney James Bopp, who represents Cawthorn, has warned this is a mass power play by Democrats to subvert Democracy: “They have multiple targets. It just so happens that Madison Cawthorn is the tip of the spear.”
The United States should be above the antics we have seen with men like Maliki. The Constitution should not be subverted to keep one party in power against the will of the people. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). It is up to us to remain righteous and free.
Bill Connor, a retired Army Infantry colonel, author and Orangeburg attorney, has deployed multiple times to the Middle East. Connor was the senior U.S. military adviser to Afghan forces in Helmand Province, where he received the Bronze Star. A Citadel graduate with a JD from USC, he is also a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Army War College, earning his master of strategic studies. He is the author of the book Articles from War.