Historian Meacham: ‘We’re the United States of America; We Can Figure Out How To Hold Our Elections’

Historian Meacham: ‘We’re the United States of America; We Can Figure Out How To Hold Our Elections’


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Janet Ybarra
Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press

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Americans should not allow the coronavirus outbreak and COVID-19 pandemic to interfere with the 2020 elections, according to noted author and historian Jon Meacham.

Rather, in this time of forced lockdowns and social distancing to slow the spread of the virus, the nation should turn to vote-by-mail, said Meacham, who dubbed the idea “curbside democracy.”

There have been more than 383,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide. The virus has killed more than 16,500. 

In the United States, there have been 33,404 recorded cases of the disease, with 400 deaths, according to the most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Meacham recently published an op-ed article on this topic in The New York Times.

“It’s very hard constitutionally, legislatively it’s supposed to be impossible for a president to delay, the executive branch to delay a presidential election, only Congress can do it,” Meacham said. “Even then, the president’s term still expires on January 20th. All of that is from a normal world, the place we used to live in. It is like a message in a bottle from America as we’ve known it. I think these are real questions. And I think there are rational, clearly rational concerns. Louisiana, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, and others have already postponed their primaries.

“There are ways to do this. Senator Klobuchar, Senator Wyden have a bill. Every American should have access to a mail-in ballot. Colorado has a very good system where they send out ballots, some weeks ahead of the general election. You can mail it back, you can drop it off. It is like curbside democracy,” he added. “Again, to tie all of this together, we’re the United States of America. We can figure out how to hold our elections. It takes some thinking. It’s not easy. But there’s nothing more important.

“And if anybody is lulled at this point, to go to what you were saying, into thinking that there is not some nefarious thinking somewhere, you know, President Trump a year or so ago tweeted — or earlier this year, re-tweeted Jerry Falwell Jr. saying that President Trump should get two more years on his term to make up for the Mueller investigation,” Meacham said. “President Trump has joked at rallies about blowing through the 22nd Amendment.

“It is always a joke until it isn’t, you know? It is always, oh, we’re hyperventilating, clutching our pearls and all that. Sometimes you clutch your pearls because there is a reason to clutch your pearls. I think that this is one of those moments. We just need to look at it. Folks should go online, they should look at how states do this. We need to do it, we need to vote,” Meacham said.

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