The siege against core values worsens by NOT prosecuting calculated, sneering subversion of laws
Amidst the ever-sprawling, incendiary investigations of Trump’s criminality, reactionaries caution that any indictments of an ex-president – whether guilty as hell or not – send America into banana republic spirals of descent. As when tin-pot potentates appoint servile judges who prompt courts to shred the opposition and oppress the people? Does such fear-mongering against simply enforcing the law not award popular demagogues automatic immunity, however infamous? Indictment and conviction are the only bulwarks against further legal/Constitutional disintegration, let alone electoral politics as vicious, open warfare.
So, imagine a truculent, unrepentant outlaw, already under the gun for inciting violence, playing the inevitable, Trumpian extortion card: “prosecute me and mass violence erupts.” Ferocity is the strongman’s default when questioned, let alone charged. So much for laws and procedures that define decent majority governance, trumped by armed street mobs yelling “Lock (today’s) enemies up,” even “Hang Biden.” That’s beyond inciting a riot but instigating civil war by the tin-pot general at the drop of an indictment. Does the subsequent trial then face more mayhem? Worse than tampering with witnesses (under the gun for that one, too) is crashing the whole legal structure, peppered with childish whining that all accusations, like all lost elections, must be “rigged” and “phony” – evocative of banana republics. Why have prosecutors or the DOJ if they cannot charge?
So on top of a “justice system” that favors the rich, famous and powerful, here’s a full pardon, in advance, for the odious category of “criminal ex-president.” A double-down, twin claws on the scales of injustice. If this crystal clear outlaw is not charged in open court, and given the right to defend himself, goodbye law, order and blather about justice. Bad guys need not again buy off elected officials but skip the middleman, take office and commandeer power. Buy the media outlets or buy influence with huge ad budgets (like the Pillow Guy does FOX).
Brace for more “straight-shooting,” Trump-style pitches, “Trust me to ferret out the worst traitors and crime syndicates – I know ‘em by first names and know corruption better than loser prosecutors who could never nail my ass.” Thus surfaces the newest, most bizarre MAGA “anti-establishment” scream – elect a fat cat criminal whose first-hand contact will magically impede all those blocking America’s redemption, mainly I suspect that slew of Democratic Party election cheaters, connivers and cannibals.
What, no preemptive pardons?
So, knowing what we know, explain why the Mal-a-loco loony, while allegedly declassifying top-secret documents, didn’t sign full pardons for himself (and enablers)? Guess the stable genius missed that trick. What law openly prohibits such corrupt, preemptive loopholes? Now we’re talking banana republic “justice” – wherein crooks find covert gaps to misuse. And tomorrow, were armed street factions to decide our politics, would that not inspire a fascist takeover by the Hypocrite-in-chief? Want a full-throated American banana republic? Keep electing rightwing extremists who only “love the America” they dominate, hook, line and sinker. Nasty outlaws stay “above, outside and beyond the law” by the evil of escaping indictment.
Here’s the new paradigm. All the wannabe dictator has to do is win the presidency, have his party hold off impeachments, filibuster anti-fascist reforms, and learn from Trump’s failures how to overturn lost elections, intransigent judges and remnants of the battered Constitution. The way towards one-man rule is let the most ruthless schemers off the hook, letting them abuse the law itself to obstruct inquiries into their obstructions of justice. Learn how never to have to leave office, elections be damned. Then, the only checks against post-election, totalitarian reign are either military coups, revolutions, or the end of the world, with totally unpredictable outcomes and innumerable unintended consequences.
Thus we refute the folly that justified indictments make us a “banana republic,” in no small part because the US already leans to crony, banana-ish “state capitalism.” Does not a tiny, stratified, corporate plutocracy hold enormous sway over economic, military, and electoral decision-making? Does not current, historic wealth inequality feed on exploiting workers (by shredding unions), dominating the means of production, and suppression of minority, women’s and voting rights – all lubricated by judicial biases, unjust taxation, subsidies and loopholes, tax credits, and campaign bribery? One entire party owes its existence to such regression – and the other lacks the will or wherewithal to counter the vast, organized, and well-funded rightwing conspiracy (yes, this one’s no phantom partisan invention, intact and fully functional).
Second, any republic that boasts “no one is above the law” but fails to insure this value, is simply conceding its strength to the most conspicuous, nervy and entitled criminals. Thus, worse than indicting criminal ex-presidents is NOT indicting the worst outlaws at the top of the power ladder. Just compare with oligarchic, banana republic-style tyrannies in Russia, North Korea, or Saudi Arabia to see what anti-justice means.
Finally, a fascinating book I’ve learned about doing research. Though Wikipedia reports that the term “banana republic” was O. Henry’s 1904 coinage, more relevant today is the book published exactly a century later: Banana Republicans by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber. Yes, back in 2004 two savvy writers made sense of the post-Florida 2000 election morass by detailing how this event inspired greater rightwing gerrymandering, current know-nothing media pandering, a GOP war against dissenters and foes, the evisceration of regulatory agencies, amplifying corrupt lobbyist arm-twisting and Tea Party/MAGA rants that equate “disagreement with treason” (read: the entire Democratic Party as enemies to capitalism, morality and civilization). Before Dubya’s first term ended, per this prescient book, the rabid right was already wielding the “treason” cudgel to crush competition.
Thus, it’s laughable to invoke banana republic dread because fully-informed, extremely careful prosecutors now indict a former president whose crime sprees test all national foundations. Just when we think Trump has exhausted all modes of outlawry, new ones pop up. The theft of national secrets and the corruption of the NY federal prosecutor’s were invisible a month ago. This week’s DOJ subpoena dragnet, plus upcoming finale of the Jan. 6 Committee, plus high confidence from Georgia officials re convictions, together presage a dramatic round of Fall revelations that may well outstrip exposes of the last six months. Trump is done-for.
Like failure, not indicting not an option
In fact, any failure to indict the spate of Trump criminality signals the beginning of the end of America, comparable to unspeakable damage were the Corrupter-in-chief to regain the White House. Both promise to push democracy off the cliff, confirm noxious, oligarchic control, and ironically affirm the US as a first-world banana republic. For the record, a banana republic is defined as a predatory form of monopolistic, elitist plutocratic “state capitalism” (yes, cousin to fascist models) aligned with stratified social classes, often in collusion with the military and church powers. Power elites use force to control key national agricultural, mineral, or energy resources and channel profits on the backs of the working class.
Such bullies don’t even bother with “trickle down” defenses: the secret police take care of civil order, incarceration, andintimidation. All-powerful leaders make the rules, corrupt government, and dictate legal and court procedures to maximize profits and punish threatening dissenters, reformers or opposition. Sound familiar? Only gross incompetence, unintended transparency, and modest resistance by powers that be, have kept the phony Florida poseur at bay. Unlike soldiers, banana republicans don’t fade away: when money and fame lose their shine, power is the ultimate drug – if not the law, what handcuffs the deluded cult of Trump?