To imagine that Trump will fade away after January 20 requires the denial of everything Americans know about the president’s massive ego, his aversion to being seen as a loser, and his determination to avenge his defeat in the 2020 election.
Added to the Constitution after the Civil War, the 14th Amendment is a blunt instrument, which mandates in its third section: “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who … shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
Section 5 of the amendment declares, “The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”
This is why focusing on the 14th Amendment is relevant. As Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Eric Foner reminds us, the House and Senate House could, with a simple majority vote, censure Trump for inciting insurrection and, with the approval of a President Joe Biden, effectively bar Trump from running again for the presidency.
“This can be invoked against anyone who has ever taken an oath to support the Constitution, including the president,” Foner says of the 14th Amendment. “It’s much simpler than impeachment. It is not a judicial proceeding. It’s a political proceeding. It doesn’t involve lawyers or trials. It is simply about qualification for office. You could have one afternoon of debate and a vote.”