We had another busy week in politics–except in the North Carolina legislature. The GOP leadership here still has not delivered the budget they promised to have completed by July. The delay is holding up Medicaid for tens of thousands of working North Carolinians who can’t afford health insurance. But, hey, at least they got to beat up on LGBT+ folks last week. Keeps the “Christians” happy.
We got a lesson in international politics about how different countries deal with coup plotters. Here in America, we go through a long, laborious legal process that builds skepticism of the system and allows for those alleged of plotting a coup to make an appeal to the masses through friendly interviews and propaganda. Over in Russia, they shoot them out of the sky with no warning. It’s quite a difference, to be honest. Of course, the Russian coup plotters did have tanks. I expect the NRA approved.
Which gets to another point. Part of the reason the Big Lie persists is that we do have a justice system. The threat of immediate consequences is relatively low. In a lot of other countries, the Proud Boys and Oat Keepers who broke into the Capitol wouldn’t be facing long prisons sentences two and half years after their attempt to take control of the government. They would be dead or disappeared.
That’s not how we do things here. Instead, we believe in due process. As every prosecutor has made clear, Donald Trump and his alleged co-conspirators are innocent until proven guilty. His supporters should be thanking the American justice system, not deriding it. In Russia or Hungary, Donald Trump would have likely fallen out a window or died suddenly of unknown causes by now.
In this country, we allow grifters, opportunists, and would-be authoritarians to attack our very system in an effort to bring discredit to outcomes they might not like. If Donald Trump ends up acquitted of all the charges, a very real possibility, the right will be suddenly be hailing the system they swear today is driven by politics, corruption, and vindictiveness. If Trump gets convicted, they are sowing seeds of doubt about our system that suggests nothing in the government can be trusted.
Elected Republicans making the case that Donald Trump did nothing illegal and that the indictments are politically motivated are doing damage to our country. None of them that I’ve heard dispute the facts in the cases. No, they argue that Trump and his had a right to demand elected and appointed election officials find them more votes. They say it’s freedom of speech. They argue the same for the fake electors. They don’t deny that the scheme was meant to overturn the election. They just deny that it was illegal. Seems like an argument the justice system should sort out.
Which brings us to the GOP debate that Trump skipped. Everybody on the stage except former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said they would support Trump, even if he were convicted of crimes. That’s alarming since they all know that he will not accept defeat in 2024. They also know that next time could be worse than January 6 because Trump and his allies will know where they made mistakes and who is loyal and who is not. In other words, all of those candidates have told us that they don’t believe in our system of justice unless the outcome suits them. To hear Chris Christy and Mike Pence make the case that Trump is corrupt and possibly treasonous and then say they would support him is disturbing, to say the least.
Of course, the scariest person on the debate stage was Vivek Ramaswamy. He’s clearly studied Trump better than the rest of the field. He’s not just loyal, he’s trying to imitate him. DeSantis may have tried to make himself Trump’s successor with a political resume, but part of Trump’s appeal is the lack of political experience. Ramaswamy sounds like a huckster, which apparently appeals to a lot of Americans. Like Trump, he’s following the old P.T. Barnum maxim, “There’s a sucker born every minute” and, with the help of social media, he understands that he can talk to them all at once. None of the politicians on the stage spoke that language very well.
Like Trump, Ramaswamy uses his ignorance of government, history, and policy to his advantage. He can communicate to a whole lot people who have less knowledge than him to still sound smart. It’s the simple answers for simple minds approach to politicking. He can convince a mass of very ignorant people to support simple and bad policy ideas based on the idea that everything that they don’t understand, the justice system, for example, is corrupt. Just like Trump. And according to the show of hands on that debate stage, there’s nobody in the Republican Party with the courage to oppose those lies or the patriotism to defend our country.
The whole situation feels a bit Orwellian. The system that has kept Trump out of jail so far is under attack by people who don’t think he should be in jail. The guy who will almost certainly claim victory if he’s on the ballot in 2024 has the support of Republican opponents who say openly that he’s corrupt and tried to usurp our democracy. And the so-called responsible Republicans like Mitch McConnell justify their inaction by pointing to the Supreme Court. Defeating these people is the most patriotic thing anybody can do right now.