Only One Candidate for President in 2024 Has Made and Will Make a Mockery of the Law

Republican hysterics over the hush money verdict are nothing but a projection of the second Trump term they hope for.

Only One Candidate for President in 2024 Has Made and Will Make a Mockery of the Law

Taking their cues from Donald Trump, every prominent Republican politician (with the exception of Larry Hogan) now regurgitates the same lines about the former president’s conviction on 34 counts of falsifying business documents. Ask a dozen elected Republicans about last week’s guilty verdicts and a dozen different voices will echo back that the rule of law is a farce now.

Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise: “Today’s verdict is a devastating defeat for any American who believes in the critical legal tenet that justice is blind.”

Missouri Senator Josh Hawley: “This ‘trial’ has been from beginning to end a complete and total sham, a mockery of the criminal justice system, and one of the most dangerous abuses of our political process in American history.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis: “In America, the rule of law should be applied in a dispassionate, even-handed manner, not become captive to the political agenda of some kangaroo court.”

“Political prosecutions like this are unprecedented,” they shout. “Anyone else would never have been found guilty for forging documents to cover up the hush money payment they made to hide an affair,” they cry! After all, it’s been eight years since 2016 already — plenty of time to forget all of those “lock her up!” chants.

Over the past few years of Biden’s America, conservative politicians and intellectuals have contorted themselves into some especially strange knots. They now simultaneously call for regime change and an end to liberal neutrality while crying wolf whenever a member of the in-group faces potential legal consequences. They remain always fearful that Biden is the leader they so want Trump to be.

But for good and for ill, the Biden administration has chosen to wage its battle for the soul of America solely in the sphere of democratic politics. Elected by a margin of less than 100,000 votes in 2020, and currently flagging in the polls, unlike his predecessor Biden has been remarkably reticent to use every available lever to secure his re-election.

Trump may have eventually faced legal consequences for his rampant illegal behavior (we won’t know what the sentence is until July) but it took more than two years after he left the White House for him to be indicted for the first time. As a reminder, that’s more than two years after Trump marshaled an assault on the Capitol building that almost ended in the deaths of members of Congress and his own vice president. Biden evidently wasn’t turning the screws on Attorney General Merrick Garland, or any state level prosecutors, to charge Trump as soon as possible.

When states’ attempts to remove Trump from the ballot under the 14th Amendment were shot down by the courts, Biden just said “it’s fine.” He certainly never stumped for that ragtag campaign, or openly made the case to the American public that insurrectionists like Trump should be constitutionally barred from running for public office.

In The New Republic, journalist Ken Silverstein recently detailed a group chat, “Off Leash,” started by private warmonger Erik Prince and containing hundreds of business leaders, politicians, and former members of the military. One member, CEO Scott Freeman, called for the group to “apply all tenets of warfare internally against the many enemies living among us.”

In the sort of illiberal, Hobbesian state that Biden’s critics dream of, every member of that group chat would be punished for threatening the dominant regime. But none of them will ever see any consequences. Beyond just that, companies run and owned by Prince and other far-right extremists, like Elon Musk, will continue to receive lucrative contracts from the federal government while they plot to overthrow it.

Rather using every tool in their toolbox, the Biden administration has instead adopted Trump’s flagship policies, hoping to win over marginal voters and Nikki Haley supporters. Just look at the new round of anti-China sanctions (once Trump’s much-maligned trade wars) or Biden’s executive order squashing asylum seekers’ hope of having their case heard in the US (once a stark sign of the Trump admin’s inhumanity).

The conservatives’ post-verdict cry that the real decision will be made in the ballot box, not the courtroom, has already been quietly accepted by the Biden administration. They will publicly defend the decisions made in the courtroom, of course, but the White House has largely failed to treat Trump as an extraordinary threat to the American political order. No jaw dropping extralegal measures have actually been taken, no glass has been broken in case of emergency.

If the Biden administration isn’t shredding the Constitution, if Democrats haven’t truly crossed the Rubicon, then why are conservatives complaining so vociferously? To quote Matthew Sitman and Sam Adler-Bell of the Know Your Enemy podcast, “what are they giving themselves permission to do?”

Well, while conservatives decry the Biden administration’s supposed political purges, they’re planning to cleanse the civil service of the insufficiently loyal. Every accusation of illiberalism, of political persecution and legal warfare, borders on proof positive that conservatives are planning something similar.

For one example, conservatives have taken to calling prosecuting Trump for the crimes he committed “lawfare.” Surely that term would be much more aptly used to describe the laws in states like Texas which deputized private citizens to file lawsuits against abortion providers before Roe v. Wade was overturned.

Oh, Biden was too radical when he called MAGA Republicanism (not even the whole Republican Party) an “extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic”? It was the “most vicious, hateful, and divisive speech ever delivered by an American president” according to Trump? I guess he should know, as the man who pledged to “root out the communists, Marxists, fascists, and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.” God forbid a president hate his political opponents and divide the American people.

The Trump campaign, and the candidate himself, have hardly been shy about their plans to deport tens of millions of immigrants Trump accuses of “poisoning the blood of our country.” As New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie has pointed out, in practice this would almost certainly be “an indiscriminate roundup of anyone who might appear to be an immigrant.” And bless your heart if you think the second Trump administration would really try to spare American citizens. 

Trump has already pledged to issue an executive order overturning birthright citizenship, a constitutional guarantee under the 14th Amendment. During a second Trump term conservatives would assuredly continue trying to make American citizenship synonymous with support for Trump.

In the wake of the 2020 election, Claremont Institute research fellow Glenn Ellmers wrote in the American Mind that “most people living in the United States today—certainly more than half—are not Americans in any meaningful sense of the term.” The distinguishing factor between Americans and fake Americans? Not immigration status, he argued, but whether they voted for Trump.

If you aren’t a Trump voter, if you somehow decided to pull the lever for Joe Biden, the argument goes, you aren’t a real American. And only real Americans should get to cast votes that matter.

The Texas Republican Party’s new platform calls for all statewide elected positions to be awarded to whoever wins a majority in the majority of counties. 64 people voted in Loving County in 2020 (90.9% for Trump). 1.64 million people voted in Harris County (56% for Biden). If the Texas Republican Party platform was enacted, Loving County and Harris County would both have the exact same amount of say in who becomes governor.

While conservatives decry the prosecution of Trump for the crimes that, again, he very much committed, they are continuing to conspire against that most basic tenet of American democracy: one person, one vote.

The Biden administration so far has refused to challenge long-standing norms, whether that be the shrine upon which we place the Supreme Court or the customary reticence to prosecute political opponents. If Trump is elected in November, his second administration won’t be so cautious.

Featured image is Two's company, three's a crowd! by Udo J. Keppler