Unchastened,Trumpism still offers only rampant disruption, penalties be damned
Waiting for court indictments of Trump and enablers is like “Waiting for Godot.” Time passes, millions suffer from diverse contagions, and scoundrels sustain political crime sprees. A politics out to demolish democracy either gets impeded or persists; our system does not boast the disgraceful immunity Trump arrogantly assumes. Are state and federal prosecutors waiting for some next anvil, some new, national outrage, to drop? In the meantime, high courts collude in sabotaging abortion, voting rights, and protections against corporate over-reach.
While the California recall exposed rightwing cynicism in spades, what did instigators have to lose and what penalties do they pay for wasting $250 million state dollars? Ditto, the idiotic default to Trumpist de-legitimizing of any lost election. Of course, strangling certified elections opens the gates for violent, freedom-robbing protests, against masks, vaccines or other public bulwarks. The longer the deviant head of Chaos on Demand (COD) remains “at large,” the more the deviant party weakens the institutions (voting, elections, government, agencies, the military) that assure equilibrium.
Letting career criminals (or defiant children) off the hook only encourages more disruption, even if videotaped on prime time. It’s not as if Trump and gang have hidden their intentions or misconduct – indeed bragging about the manly art of violating other people’s freedom seems a first fascist commandment. In the dark of the night, would-be insurrectionists likely practice snarling, chin-trusting strutting instead of tactical protest planning.
Bad enough an unprincipled scammer won the White House, then somehow still channels his diseased anti-democracy into fellow insurgents, shocked they lack a billionaire’s immunity. Imagine the befuddlement when future historians explain that millions of ordinary folks – with such paltry benefits and knowing the worst – still endorsed their messiah’s re-nomination. So much for the free market of rational self-interest.
Why enter elections when starting insurrections are so much easier? Why “patronize” elections that are “corrupt” (thus unwinnable) from beginning to end? Are Democrats worthy enough to run against but worthless scum when they win? Nothing better demonstrates how gluttons for punishment are, well, ripe marks. The (sick) sore election losers end up blaming everyone and everything but themselves.
Impeaching the impeachment clause
Having never once convicted an impeached president is either astonishing proof of unrivaled moral rectitude across 250 years – or a withering condemnation of a failed Constitutional safeguard. The cynical Trump scenario testifies to the epic fail of the impeachment process. Any process that cannot remove this icon of corruption indicts itself. Thus Trump looks on governance as he does elections: perception is all, and perceived legitimacy is solely dependent on his never losing – or never getting “fired.” Do we need more evidence that a 2/3s Senate super-majority for conviction is an absurd obstacle? Who imagines either party, before the end of time, losing 66 seats?
Of all of the incalculable damage Trumpism inflicts on democracy, Trump’s worst personal crime is the blatant scorn for the rule of law, forever counting on gall alone to escape penalty. Trump proves our system is a rotten Swiss cheese of checkless imbalances. The impossibility of conviction should have driven Democrats to instantly begin amending the Constitution; otherwise, all we have is a media event in which accusers posit they did something – and defenders (plus Trump) spit in their eyes. Want the definition of injustice? Would even taped evidence of a president attacking the House Speaker, spewing anti-feminist tirades, sway craven GOP senators to remove?
Crime spree for the ages
Worse still than the Scofflaw-in-chief’s immoral example, an unpunished career criminal prompts the next (by definition, smarter) demagogue to get away with murder. Or if you lay thousands of needless pandemic deaths at Trump’s feet, the crime is already homicide. If we survive today’s still formidable torrent, what about the next flood of quicksand for democracy?
Did not four Trump years prove how law (and agencies) can be so politicized they are neutered of power to intercede? Does that not also create a massive double standard? While presidential accountability is a nightmare, ordinary citizens are still indicted for bank theft or blackmail, lying on loan applications or gross sexual harassment. Getting elected is now the perfect immunity against anything but a slap on the wrist. Thus does con artistry in the pursuit of domination become a vice – and letting criminals off scot-free no virtue. Trumpism redefines the category that dooms democracy, a leader beyond and “above the law.”
The cancer of unpunished sins
We should rethink that what exists in common law should equally apply to top politicians. For example, take “conspiracy to defraud”– when two or more decide to cheat a third. Is not Trump on the pandemic alone guilty if ever charged? Take lying to commit a conspiracy to defraud in order to personally benefit the liar? Guilty, as charged. Take non-stop lying all by itself, forbidden to witnesses at the most basic trials (open to contempt charges if they don’t “tell the truth and nothing both the truth”).
If Trump is not guilty of conspiracy, and lying on behalf of a conspiracy to defraud (on Covid, elections, insurrections, whatever), then the concept and stature of fraud is meaningless. If Trump is not guilty of campaign fraud (deducting payoffs for prostitutes), ditto. If defrauding the government by tax cheating is not indictable, then tax laws only apply to the honest, hardly fair. If blackmail, bribery and collusion (committed on tape against the Ukrainian president) are not crimes that justify severe punishment, then we are a scofflaw nation, on the way to the rule of the jungle.
We commonly know when something sacred has been violated after the fact. Then the choice becomes how to reestablish the threshold by making a clear and public example of the violator. As long as Trump escapes accountability, we are no longer a nation of laws – for here is the ultimate scofflaw, scorning the law, living as well as if the past five years had never happened. That Trump is still a viable political candidate to millions, despite knowing his full, malignant character, qualifies as another terrorist threat. Nomination aside, only indictments, testimony and sentencing provide the closure essential for our political redemption, if not survival. Bring ‘em on and let the sparks fly.