The Bigger Question Behind Trump’s Insurrection Clause Case

Daylin Leach
5 min readJan 3, 2024

Sometimes, when advocating for a position, someone will argue something that is absolutely right and yet also absolutely besides the point. These arguments sound good and are often undisputable, but when subjected to any level of scrutiny, they prove to either be irrelevant to, or actually counter-productive to the larger point the person is trying to make.

It’s like the argument I used to make in college when asking for dates. “You don’t want to die alone!”. A bit over the top, perhaps. But you have to work with what you have. And I didn’t have a lot. I had an impressive collection of early ELO bootlegs, I could hyper-extend my left elbow, and I could talk about juggling. To be clear, I couldn’t actually juggle. But I could talk about it. That’s it. So given all of this, I thought I had to go big.

The point is that while it is true that most of the sophomores I was asking out (to the extent they had thought about it) indeed didn’t want to die alone, that was not the actual existential threat they faced at 20. Especially, given that there were several billion other men on the planet who weren’t me, my going-to-the-grave-lonely point was true, but irrelevant, and made people think I was even stranger than I actually was. No mean feat. For these reasons, and many more, it turned out to be an ineffective strategy. The proof is in the pudding, which I ate a lot of as I sat in my dorm room without a date.

I’ve heard a number of people make a similarly misguided argument in the context of Colorado and Maine’s decision to remove Donald Trump from their 2024 presidential primary ballots because the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution states that those who once took an oath to the Constitution, but then participated in an insurrection are no longer eligible to run for office.

Specifically, many people, including some who I normally agree with and respect, have said versions of “It really is best if the people decide who wins elections at the ballot box”. Like my dating strategy, this argument is undeniably true, but does little to resolve whether or not Trump is eligible to run in the 2024 election. That is because the ultimate question we are trying to answer is not “What is best?”, but “What does the Constitution say?’

--

--

Daylin Leach

Long-time state House and Senate member, author of PA’s Medical Marijuana law, also creator of “shit-gibbon!” Comedian, professor, father of 2 awesome children!