Trump Must Go To Jail

Our long national orange nightmare seems to be coming to a head. Failed Criminal Mastermind Donald Trump, who somehow was elected the President of These Here United States, has four indictments under his belt. There may be more coming.

That Trump was unfit for the presidency is kind of glaringly clear, and he at the very least tried to steal the election. The question now is whether that was in fact a very serious crime, which is up to the courts. Here at First Draft, Adrastos had clear-eyed rundowns this week of the IndictmentFest here, here, and here. The latter link makes a case I very much agree with, televise all the trials. (PS Don’t sleep on Cassandra’s excellent writing on the week’s abortion news here and here).

However, there are still some in the Wisest and Most Sensible Minds of the Grand American Political Discourse who are not having any of that, and who are still giving Trump every benefit of the doubt for whatever reason. But some are punching back, as it were.

Adam Gopnik over at The Atlantic threw cold water on one particular movement that is growing for some reason, which is what we are seeing unfold with Trump is the elites getting revenge on the unwashed masses who love him. Gopnik calls out Mushy Republican David Brooks over at the New York Times and Another Centrist David, David Von Drehle over at the Washington Post. Both of these gentlemen seem to be like a person who graduated college in 2017 and hate their job, wishing it were 2016 all over again, because they are trotting out some of the same tired arguments made about Trump’s appeal during his first campaign. This is Brooks:

“…the Trump indictments seem like just another skirmish in the class war between the professionals and the workers, another assault by a bunch of coastal lawyers who want to take down the man who most aggressively stands up to them…”

And this is Von Drehle:

“I don’t think most Trump supporters actually want to live in a world where an elderly sociopath has unfettered power. But they do want to live in a world where those currently in power are cowed and cautious rather than smug. Trump delivers on that.”

Apparently, in the last seven years, neither of them has figured out that “working class” does not mean rural and suburban white dudes with blue-collar jobs, and that there really are people of color of any gender doing good work as UPS drivers, construction workers, factory line employees, etc. As Gopnik pointed out, there is this bizarre refusal to see Trumpism as far-right white nationalism, and make it about class. But that really has not been the case. Trump did not do well with lower- and middle-income Americans in 2020, and did well with upper-income Americans.

And even if that were the case, Trump must face consequences, and by that I mean he must be treated as any other American would be in this situation. This really has not been true so far, as Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick pointed out. I do see why this might be going on, to a point. There is a lot of concern that this does not look like a political witchhunt. Polls do show that there are a fair amount of Americans who believe it is politically motivated (almost half in a recent poll).

On the other hand, that poll also shows that the majority of Americans understand the severity of the indictments and the damage Trump did to our democracy. That leads us to where we are potentially, or even likely, heading with all of this – the imprisonment of a former president.

David Rothkopf hit the nail squarely on the head this week in the Daily Beast with his piece, “Trump Must Go to Jail if Convicted.”

Last week, there was an essay in The New York Times by respected conservative legal scholar Jack Goldsmith, a professor at Harvard Law School, entitled, “The Prosecution of Trump May Have Terrible Consequences.”

It warns that “the costs to the legal and political system will be large” should Trump be convicted “before or after the election.” It offers a variety of arguments in support of its thesis—which is, in my view, dead wrong.

Goldsmith wrings his hands with all the enthusiasm of a Republican not wanting to see a Republican get thrown in jail. He raises the appearance of political motivations argument, drags out the ol’ “it will polarize the nation” argument, and claims it will cause Americans to lose faith in our system.

Nonsense. I argue the opposite. If Trump were allowed to avoid prison, it would crush our faith in the system, adding another piece of proof that our justice system has a level for the wealthy/famous/powerful and another level for the rest of us.

It would also be an even bigger mistake than pardoning Nixon. Letting Nixon go enabled an even worse scandal, Iran-Contra, and certainly made it easier for the Bush administration to allow us to become a nation that tortures during the Iraq/Afghanistan wars. It should make any American with a sense of fairness and love of democracy shudder at what a future unethical president and his/her cronies would say “what are they going to do, throw us in jail HAHAHAHAHA” about.

I do not believe that what the David Brooks and Jack Goldsmiths of the world will say over the next year or so will really matter. I do believe there is a strong chance Trump does time, as his crimes are legion. He has to, for the sake of the country.

The last word goes to Akon, with what is hopefully Trump’s future theme song.