California’s attempt to keep Donald Trump off the state presidential ballot in 2020 is as misguided as it is cowardly.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill recently that would require any candidate for president to release their federal tax returns as a condition of being on the state ballot for president. The bill is squarely targeted at the Great Tweeter, President Donald Trump.
Trump has infamously and steadfastly refused to release his returns, bucking more than 40 years of tradition that’s seen presidents back to Nixon release their IRS returns for public scrutiny. California’s trying to enshrine a federal tradition into state law to deny Trump a place on the California ticket in 2020. That’s a terrible idea.
Regardless of one’s views on Trump, he’s under no legal obligation to release his tax returns. Any successful attempt to force him to do so could provide a precedent for other states when confronted with candidates who aren’t to the general liking of the public there. In short, it’s voter suppression swaddled in the rhetoric of transparency.
In targeting a candidate, the proposed law is basically a broad-stroke attempt to deny people a choice that, like it or not, they have every right to make.
Trump already made great hay out of his conjecture that he would have won California in 2016 were it not for millions of votes cast by immigrants. Are state leaders actually worried that if Trump’s on the ballot, he might take California in 2020? That seems unlikely. The state overwhelmingly supported the Democrat candidate in 2016.
So why not just let a statewide trouncing of Trump commence, unimpeded by efforts to keep him off the ballot simply because he’s a racist pig? The state’s being sued over the bill by California Republicans who see it for what it is: a flagrant attempt to suppress the vote of deplorables. Good for them. It’s a dumb law.
As with the impeachment imbroglio in Congress, the California bill is premised less on demonstrable crimes and misdemeanors (though those are piling up) and more on a sense of rolling revulsion that this clown got elected in the first place. In passing its candidate-suppression law, California’s one-party regime has shown what unchecked power can bring with it, and in doing so, violated the first rule when it comes to confronting a bully: Don’t make a victim of him.
Tom Gogola is news editor of the ‘Bohemian.’ We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write firstname.lastname@example.org.