In his latest Washington Post column, George Will, never a Trump supporter, cautions against trying to block Trump’s candidacy for the presidency in 2024 using the 14th Amendment:
Leave aside (as a court will be unable to do) the fraught questions about what causal connections there were between Trump’s rhetoric before and on Jan. 6, 2021, and the actions then of his acolytes: They, after all, had agency. And never mind how to calibrate “aid or comfort.” Just concentrate on “insurrection.”
The Confederacy — the attempted secessions of 11 states; rebel cannon firing on federal installations; armies on the march against U.S. forces — was unambiguously an insurrection. A riotous rabble — whatever its motivations and delusional aspirations — on a January afternoon? Rather less so. They were criminal and disgusting, but closer to vandals than to the Army of Northern Virginia.
People advocating a 14th Amendment solution to the problem of Trump are spreading the acids of cynicism and suspicion that are corroding trust in institutions. And some states’ election officials — watch Colorado — are apt to seize this occasion for grandstanding, trying to keep Trump’s name off their ballots. This will thicken his armor of martyrdom.
The problem that I see with the push to disqualify Trump from running based on novel and strained interpretations of the 14th Amendment is that I don’t believe they as much a principled arguments as opportunistic ones. The rationale appears to be that Trump is such a threat to democracy that any action is justified in preventing it. That the views of those who rioted on January 6 are the mirror image of that does not seem to occur to them.
It’s all very post-modern. Like burning the village in order to save it.