Max Marcello | Staff Writer
With a presidential election rapidly approaching, we as a nation must confront the elephant in the room, namely the alleged criminal misconduct of the presumptive GOP nominee and his efforts to usurp constitutional norms.
Donald Trump is set for a presidential comeback unseen since Grover Cleveland in 1892. Unlike Cleveland, Trump enters the race while standing as a defendant facing 91 criminal charges.
In contrast to criminal defendant Trump is candidate Trump, who calls loudly for law and order. Even though a conviction and subsequent incarceration would not bar him from running, Trump appears hell bent on waging war against his political opponents and the process of judicial recourse integral to our nation’s belief in supremacy of the law. This places his supporters and media allies in a position where they must betray the values their unassailable pro-American party is supposed to stand for.
Trump, like every citizen of the United States, is to be presumed innocent and receive a fair, speedy and public trial. In said trial, the state must make its case and convince fellow citizens of a clear instance of wrongdoing beyond any reasonable doubt.
Rather than conduct himself in a judicious manner, Trump seeks to mislead his supporters and more importantly delegitimize the legal process of holding him accountable. To this end, he is infinitely more successful than his predecessors who have similarly sought to skirt consequences for their actions.
Richard Nixon, for instance, claimed presidential immunity to obstruct the Watergate investigation. Similarly, Bill Clinton asserted that his presidential status exempted him from Paula Jones’s sexual harassment lawsuit. These instances, though well-documented by historians, do not fully replicate our current scenario.
Unlike Trump, both Nixon and Clinton eventually acknowledged and adhered to the court’s rulings, submitting themselves to the overarching principles of the Constitution.
Based on an analysis of his past behaviors, Trump will not submit in part due to the charismatic authority he wields over his most devoted supporters, who believe that he is not subject to judicial recourse because he is Donald Trump. Despite any effort, no matter how lawful or fair, the trial’s outcome will always be deemed an attack from the deep state by Trump’s fanatics.
Knowing he potentially faces years behind bars and the humiliation that will invariably come with conviction, Trump finds himself backed into a corner, ready to fight, making him more dangerous than ever. Death threats and disruptions have dogged several of the high profile prosecutors especially in the federal trials involving Trump’s role in Jan. 6 and his mishandling of classified information.
Among the high profile non-federal charges, Trump will have to face state RICO charges in Georgia for conspiring to overturn the 2020 election. He will also have to defend himself against charges relating to alleged campaign finance violations when Trump coordinated a clandestine payment to pornstar Stormy Daniels.
Special counsel Jack Smith has especially come under fire in right-wing media. Shielding Trump from prosecution will have far-reaching consequences that may not come into full view within our lifetimes. Thankfully we still have time and a strategy to ensure justice prevails.
Ironically the solution originates in right-wing media. During Trump’s 2016 and 2020 presidential runs, his campaign positioned him as an ultimatum candidate; either you vote for Trump or a Democrat hostile toward our values and traditions.
We need to shift that ultimatum and forcefully apply pressure to his supporters.
Since the 1980s, the conservative movement has largely weaponized patriotism.
If you have MAGA friends or family who ardently oppose putting Trump on trial or believe the efforts to bring him to justice are politically motivated, it’s crucial not to begin by attacking them. Instead ask them to reaffirm their principles. They will likely respond by stating they are supportive of the United States, and hold our constitution and way of life with high respect. Although they will not be able to recognize the irony in that moment, it is necessary that you keep pushing until they reach a state of cognitive dissonance.
You cannot support and uphold the constitution while also carving exceptions and allow one man to stand above the law. The only way Trump escapes accountability is through delegitimizing the system of criminal justice and stoking fear in those who would hold him accountable.
If we as a country allow him to be successful in this endeavor, then the U.S. effectively rebukes the founding principles which thousands have died to uphold and thus bequeaths our nation to a man with neither character nor couth.
Should that day come to pass, then history shall never forgive us.