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‘The Law’ Fears Outlaw Trump

For years now, antifascist Americans have been praying for someone, anyone, to save us from Trump, so that we wouldn’t have to do the hard fighting ourselves. First the Republican Party establishment was going to stop him with a “contested convention,” a piece of American political history that hasn’t happened in generations. When that failed, the Access Hollywood tape was supposed to destroy him. When he won enough electoral votes to prevail in 2016 despite massively losing the popular vote, it was the electors themselves, the individual Republicans designated to cast the legally binding votes, who were supposed to defect in large enough numbers to stop him. Then it was Robert Mueller’s turn. Then came the first impeachment…

Why is this powerful but antisocial politician never held to account for breaking the law? To begin with, while it is universally understood that Trump is a criminal, his supporters have never cared. “The Americans are certainly hero-worshipers, and always take their heroes from the criminal classes,” Oscar Wilde once said, and for many Trump worshippers, this is certainly true. Far from being outraged at his criminal refusal to pay taxes, they find it admirable and wish they could get away with it themselves. Instead of reviling his sexual assaults on many women, they think this behavior makes him manly. And so on. Others admit that he is not a good person, but are willing to look the other way because he has been instrumental in outlawing abortion, persecuting the undocumented immigrants they scapegoat for all their problems, and threatening and abusing everyone else they want to threaten and abuse.

That still doesn’t explain why judges, lawyers and politicians who are not beholden to him seem both unwilling and unable to use the full force of the law against him. Part of it, I believe, is fear of failure. Long before Trump became the center of a totalitarian cult, he learned how to run rings around the legal system, dragging out court cases until his antagonists ran out of money or simply gave up. After every adverse ruling during and after his presidency, he’s appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, delaying matters for years, until the political winds began to blow in his favor again. Why attempt to clap the twenty-first century’s Harry Houdini in irons, when he’ll only escape yet again?

Then, there’s just plain fear of the personal and political consequences. Comedian Michael Che once joked on Saturday Night Live that Trump is the “white O.J.,” but the furor that would erupt if any cops attempted to handcuff the Messiah of the Midland Mosquito Marshes would make the celebrated chase after the former football star O.J. Simpson in 1994 look like a bit of small-town excitement. Can we be sure that an enormous mob of crazed supporters would not storm the jail where he was being held to free their Führer? Of course we can’t. Any judge or prosecutor on the case would instantly be marked for death; just look at what happened to Dr. Anthony Fauci for daring to try to protect American lives that Trump wanted destroyed.

Many observers have noted that the ongoing January 6 Committee hearings come across as a criminal trial of Trump, with Liz Cheney in the role of prosecutor and only the defendant himself missing. But if Attorney General Merrick Garland refuses to prosecute, as seems likely, and the authorities in Fulton County, Georgia end up doing nothing about his recorded demand to “find” him the votes he needed, as seems even likelier, he and his mob will take it as yet another vindication, and a green light to launch his Screw America Again 2024 campaign.

Photo of Trump by Gage Skidmore

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