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I am in a deep blue small town in a deep blue state, here on the West Coast.
The natives are jubilant today.
“Happy Indictment Day!” shouted the neighbor of my host, as my host and I sat out on a balcony. The neighbor was emerging from a car, three stories below us. The building must have contained thirty apartments. The man was certain that everyone who was in earshot of his joyous shout, agreed with his sentiments.
He witnessed my silence. “Don’t you agree?” he goaded me, a near-stranger, still shouting. “Don’t you?”
Finally I responded, “I am not sure that this sets a great precedent. Every sitting President in the future will try to indict his or her political opponent.” He cut off the discussion — a reaction, from the Left, to which I am getting accustomed — and headed inside.
Earlier, at lunch, an otherwise lovely lady had celebrated the possible-near-incarceration of “that criminal.” Again, she assumed that everyone present shared her view of the events of the day.
I am experiencing considerable inner turmoil at the spectacle of President Trump’s indictment, as well as at the almost animalistic glee that this spectacle has triggered in the solid bloc of Democrats that currently surround me.
I am extraordinarily sad — at the thickheaded ignorance of history that those who are celebrating tonight, reveal; and at what has become of our country.
Don’t people understand — much as they may hate this fellow — that this is exactly what coup leaders in every banana republic, do? Seek to imprison their political opponents?
Especially while the political opponents are on the campaign trail?
Another reason for my discomfort and misery is that I have a horribly guilty conscience, because of what I experienced two decades ago and what I know — things that not that many people have experienced or know. These memories bear directly on current events.
The indictment of President Trump is for the crime of “election denialism”, among other alleged crimes. It’s a thought crime.
It is quite odd that many major news articles have links when the word “indictment’ is mentioned, but these links take the reader to other news articles, and do not link to the actual indictment. DailyClout.io, in contrast, published the indictment. The first few paragraphs make your head explode, as they directly contradict — themselves:
“1. The Defendant, DONALD J. TRUMP, was the forty-fifth President of the United States and a candidate for re-election in 2020. The Defendant lost the 2020 presidential election.
2. Despite having lost, the Defendant was determined to remain in power. So for more than two months following election day on November 3, 2020, the Defendant spread lies that there had been outcome-determinative fraud in the election and that he had actually won. These claims were false, and the Defendant knew that they were false. But the Defendant repeated and widely disseminated them anyway—to make his knowingly false claims appear legitimate, create an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger, and erode public faith in the administration of the election.
3). The Defendant had a right, like every American, to speak publicly about the election and even to claim, falsely, that there had been outcome-determinative fraud during the election and that he had won. He was also entitled to formally challenge the results of the election through lawful and appropriate means, such as by seeking recounts or audits of the popular vote in states or filing lawsuits challenging ballots and procedures. Indeed, in many cases, the Defendant did pursue these methods of contesting the election results. His efforts to change the outcome in any state through recounts, audits, or legal challenges were uniformly unsuccessful.”
So — you are allowed to challenge the vote, and you are allowed to say what you want about the vote count, because of the First Amendment, but in fact you are not allowed to challenge the vote count, and you can’t say aloud why you are seeking to challenge the vote count?
Other news stories, understandably, do not link to this word salad.
It’s odd, for instance, that Reuters itself presented what is in the indictment, as late as Aug 1, as hearsay, and simply paraphrased it:
“Based on the descriptions, they appear to include Trump’s former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who called state lawmakers in the weeks following the 2020 election to pressure them not to certify their states’ results; former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, who tried to get himself installed as attorney general so he could launch voter fraud investigations in Georgia and other swing states; and attorney John Eastman, who advanced the erroneous legal theory that Pence could block the electoral certification.”
It seems that people around President Trump tried to pause the certification process until the votes could be fully verified. It seemed that his lawyers tried a legal theory to delay certification.
Hasn’t a version of all of that happened before in our nation’s history?
Is that not what is supposed to happen when there are charges of problems with the vote? Is that not what we are tasked with doing? Calling a halt and stopping the process until every vote is recounted and verified?
I am having relentless flashbacks to where I was and what I was doing in late 2000, when I was a campaign consultant for Vice President Gore’s campaign for the Presidency.
As I’ve written elsewhere — and as I am trying desperately to remind everyone who will now listen, on every podcast that will have me — I was advising from a distance, and looped in, intermittently, to discussions within the campaign that were both public and private, about exactly the same issues that are now apparently criminal offenses even to entertain, let alone to mention in actual words.
So were almost all of the lawyers, campaign consultants, advisors and staffers of Gore 2000. So was the candidate himself, visibly.
So were almost all of the lawyers, campaign consultants, advisors, and staffers — and visibly, the candidate himself — on the other side.
The Gore campaign denied the claimed outcome of the election. The Bush campaign denied the claimed outcome of the election.
Both campaigns, both candidates, denied it up and down; they denied it on podiums, in front of crowds, on television interviews. They denied it in soundbites that sought to prejudice popular opinion — such as the brilliantly juvenile epithet via Team Bush, coined while it was still November, “Sore Loserman” for “Gore/Lieberman.” They both denied it via flotillas of highly compensated attorneys, gathering on both sides to spin and to find “legal theories”, legal loopholes. The Bush team denied it by sending an awkward, suburban version of Blackshirts — guys in Oxford shirts and khaki pants, the “Brooks Brothers Riot” — to create a noisy, menacing crowd outside the Miami room where the critical Florida votes were being recounted.
The Bush team astutely denied the claimed election results by inventing the phrase “hanging chad,” and then by popularizing it, to suggest that there was massive ambiguity in the casting of the vote, due to the reality of some unreadable, imperfectly punched paper ballots. The Gore team, for their part, denied the claimed outcome by seeking at one point to count only those counties in Florida that were most supportive of Vice President Gore. Both candidates denied the claimed outcome of the election, all the way up to the Supreme Court.
Both stopped the process until every vote could be checked and rechecked.
Every conversation, public and private, for both campaigns, for both candidates, from the 35 days from the close of Election Day to Dec 12, 2000, the date of the Supreme Court’s decision in Bush v Gore, was about denying the claimed results of the election.
The drilling down — the need of the country to understand who actually won — went all the way to the level of a consortium of newspapers eventually recounting 175,000 “undervotes” and “overvotes”; and the margins of victory that they found, depending on how you are counting, were as narrow as triple digits.
And yet today, you are a criminal if you ask for everything — for anything — to pause so you can review reported voting irregularities in the tally of the race?
Why did the two sides fight so hard in 2000? Why did they battle for 35 days after the polls closed? Why go all the way to the highest court in the land?
Because that is how our system is supposed to work.
Today, based on the premise of President Trump’s indictment, all of those discussions, strategy sessions, consultations with attorneys, meetings with campaign staff, memos, emails, faxes, all of that litigation — would expose the candidates, and their campaign staffers, and their advisors, and their lawyers — to criminal charges.
Think for a moment, I beg you, about what President Trump’s indictment, for the thought crime of resisting — just as both Vice President Gore and George Bush Jr did 20 years ago — the pat, early declarations of CNN and Fox and The New York Times about who won the Presidential race, will do to the future of our nation.
In every future election, if both candidates, and all of their staffers, advisors and lawyers, do not immediately yield to the declarations of the official outlets — if they both don’t cave right away to early calls by CNN or The Washington Post or MSNBC regarding what the Powers That Be have decided for us in relation to whom our Dear Leader is to be — then they will face possible prison terms.
Why even have elections in the future, if this is the precedent that is now being set?
And there you have the answer. This kangaroo court, this 1930s-era show trial, is not about President Trump, though he is a convenient outsider to use as the much-hated exemplar for what The Powers That Be have decided needs to be done.
It is, as President Trump often reminds us, not about him; it is about us.
It is about setting a precedent that ends the right of the American people to ask any questions, in the future, about their election results.
Which is exactly how coups operate, once the coup leaders are in power.
In banana republics, they still hold elections.
You just don’t get to question who you are told the winners are.
So no, here in this beautiful deep blue state, in this mellow, sage-smelling, Western evening air, though people around me are festive and gleeful, I am not celebrating.
It is not President Trump’s funeral dirge, that I am hearing.
It is our Republic’s own.