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Opinion: Sorry, Donald Trump: The 2020 presidential election is on

July 30, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Historian Douglas Brinkley writes that our country has gone through many crises, including some worse than the Covid-19 pandemic, and has always been able to conduct presidential elections on time. President Donald Trump's suggestion of delaying the election should be repudiated by patriotic lawmakers.

From the earliest days of the republic, regular elections and orderly transfer of power have been signatures of American democracy.

Worries that a president could be seduced to monarchism and tyranny prompted them to invest Congress with the sole power to calendar presidential elections, but Thomas Jefferson, for one, worried that by not writing term limits into the Constitution (those came later), presidents could leverage an "elective monarchy" to remain in power for life.

Jefferson, Adams' vice president, feared that escalation could distract the nation from the "pivot of free and frequent elections. " If war came, he wrote, no one could foresee "into what port it will drive us. "

And for more than 150 years after, Americans brooked no possibility of postponing our quadrennial presidential rite, despite war, panic and pestilence.

With the nation divided and under attack, Madison might easily have considered postponing that year's election.

In spring 1940, with Nazi Germany on the march and Franklin Roosevelt challenging Congress to boost US defense mobilization, the idea of skipping a US presidential election gained broad support for the first time.

Across the country, intemperate voices argued, as one commentator put it, "that politics should be completely adjourned during the building of the defense program; that opponents of the party in power should sit down and shut up; that, in fact, the presidential election should be postponed until the danger to this country is over. "

As television took hold in American life, it brought presidential politics into our homes, with newscasters like Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley calling the parties' national conventions as though they were World Series games.

"We should be an example for democracies around the world, and that means holding our elections as scheduled," said then House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

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