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What if he cancels the 2016 Congressional elections?

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It looks to me like Trump’s going down. The walls appear to be closing in on him—Cohen, Manafort, Avenatti, Mueller, Flynn. The noose is tightening.

But I have to admit to a great deal of unease even as I make that statement. Am I over-confident?

After all, we’ve been here before, many times. The news for him seems extraordinarily bad; everybody’s shocked. But then, somehow, Trump remains standing, the energizer bunny of politics. My concern is that even if everyone around him ends up in jail—and many will–there may be no evidence proving Trump himself broke the law. The smoking gun so far has not been made public. It may exist—Mueller may have it—but we haven’t seen it.

There are three possibilities:

  1. Trump did nothing wrong. He came right up to the line, and is of course a deplorable human being—an abject moral nothingness. But that doesn’t mean he colluded or obstructed justice or even broke campaign laws.
  2. Trump did break all kinds of laws, but was so clever in covering up the evidence that he’ll never be caught. The man has, after all, dealt with the Mafia for most of his adult life, and has learned a thing or two about shielding himself from provable crimes.
  3. The third possibility is the most troubling, and is only now starting to be discussed in the media. And that is that Trump broke serious laws, and will be proven to have done so; but that he will take steps to prevent being answerable to justice.

Among these steps is the alarming possibility of him canceling the 2018 elections. Could he do that? Constitutionally, there’s nothing to stop him. Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution directs that the election of Senators and Representatives “shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof,” but adds, complicatedly, “the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations…”.

This means that the Congress, by a simple majority vote in each House, can override state laws and pretty much do whatever it wants regarding elections. Since both Houses are currently held by Republicans—and will remain so right up to Election Day—it might turn out that the Republican caucus manages to “make or alter” laws regarding the orderly holding of elections. Perhaps there will be an October surprise of so drastic a nature that Trump declares a national emergency and the Republican Congress then says that, in light of the situation, it would not be a good idea for the U.S. to hold an election at that time.

I don’t believe there was ever a Congressional election that was cancelled or postponed in the nation’s history. Even at the height of the Civil War, in 1864, there were voices calling for the election (which that year included the presidency) to be canceled. But that election, obviously, went off as planned; Abraham Lincoln was re-elected. But Trump, who has no regard for history, might choose to do something no American president has ever dared to. And with a favorable partisan wind at his back: last year, a poll published in the Washington Post reported that more than half of all Republicans (52%) said they would back a postponement of the next election if Trump called for it.” (Among these were 47% who thought delusionally that Trump won the popular vote; he actually lost it by nearly three million.)

Has Trump called for postponing elections? Not yet, but he did state, last April, that he would consider violating the Constitution and running for a third and even a fourth term, if “you [Republicans] want to do it.”

Which clearly they do.

So there it is: an authoritarian-minded politician, already predisposed to autocratic rule, floating a trial balloon about being president-for-life.

Given the fanaticism of the Trump cult, which will tolerate any aberration or crime by their leader, it’s hard to see how this ends well—unless, that is, Donald J. Trump goes willingly, when his time is up. It’s not yet time to worry about Trump abrogating the Constitution and running for a third and fourth term. We can cross that bridge when we come to it. It is time to worry about him cancelling the ’18 elections, supported by this radical “Freedom Caucus” Republican Congress, which is dominated by fascists and revolutionary white supremacists.

Do I sound paranoid? Maybe, but even paranoids have enemies.  Given the Republican Party’s collapse into a Christian/fascist mobocracy, Trump will resort to anything to maintain power, and his riotous mob will march with him. It’s not too early to ask yourself what you will do if worse comes to worst and Trump plays the “cancellation” card.

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