A catastrophe when countries look to the courts for politics and not the ballot box
Do you remember “Lock Her Up”? And the way people said it was “incitement” against Hillary Clinton when Donald Trump’s supporters chanted it? Well, it seems that for many people in this country, consistency is not a principle.
At the time, Democrats claimed it wasn’t just distasteful to drool over the prosecution of a former secretary of state. It is dangerous and violates an important constitutional principle.
So it’s odd that much of this country has been drooling over the idea of ”locking him up” for the past week. Barricades have been erected in downtown Manhattan in anticipation of Donald Trump’s arrest. And a corner of 5th Avenue near Trump Tower appears to have been closed for a week, with lines of Secret Service, police and even ambulance cars waiting outside a hotel where some sort of legal hearing appears to be underway.
The truth is, you don’t have to be a Donald Trump fan to realize that the alleged charges are fabricated. If it were anyone other than Donald Trump, this fever would never arise for a law enforcement.
Certainly, the accusation in question could harm Trump. Some of his base won’t enjoy being reminded of his affair with Stormy Daniels or the apparent payment of hush money. But the idea that Trump would face trial and possibly even jail on such a charge is very worrying. Because if something like that happened, two things would happen in quick succession.
The first, as Trump himself knows – and The Post reported yesterday – will be that he will be able to rally his base. His political rivals for the 2024 Republican nomination will be deprived of oxygen and forced to talk endlessly about Trump. And while Trump and the Democrats may like it, it would be catastrophic for the GOP and the country.
The second thing that would happen is that a precedent would be set that would be downright catastrophic.
When President Ford pardoned his predecessor in 1974, he sent an important signal. Whatever the actual crimes committed by President Nixon in office, it was not in the interests of the United States to leave a former president in a courthouse, much less in a jail cell.
But the lesson was not learned. Since the 1990s, every president has faced a constant drumbeat of calls for impeachment, impeachment and imprisonment. And while a lot of people on both sides hate it when it’s against their guy, they love it when it’s against their opponents.
We already know where this will lead. In Israel, it has been almost 10 years since a former prime minister – Ehud Olmert – was convicted and jailed for decades on bribery charges. It didn’t help that when one of the country’s former presidents went to jail, he was already in jail on entirely different charges. But it’s also no surprise that the last decade of Israeli politics has been dominated by the prospect of another prime minister going to jail.
Despite being elected more times and longer than any previous Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu’s political opponents have dreams of him following Olmert to a prison cell. They want to prevent him from posing a political threat by using this legal threat.
It makes the business of democracy even more difficult than it should be. Because it means the prime minister, while trying to run a country, win re-election and more, has to spend his time fending off legal challenges. As in America, this judicial revenge has other implications.
Last but not least, it discourages talented and successful people from going into politics. If Trump had to go to jail, what would he do? It would appease part of the country for a while. But it would be the political equivalent of fast-food snacks: disastrous for the nation’s long-term health. Even Trump recognized in office that “lock her up” was a slogan, not politics.
You have to be rich to run for office in this country. But why would anyone do that, knowing that the rewards of office have diminished while the dangers have increased?
If Trump goes to court first, we can all guess who will go next. If it’s not President Biden himself, it will be a member of his immediate family. Because although this time politically ambitious leftists like Alvin Bragg and Tish James are at work, next time it will be just as ambitious DAs and AGs from the right. And just as surely as the left has been chasing Trump, ambitious Republicans will find a way to put every future Democrat in office.
It’s not the future the founders saw. And it’s not a future that many of us would enjoy. But it is the future into which vengeance pushes us. They will not enjoy the world they create.
Eventually, a backlash awoke
Is the anti-woke backlash finally coming? There are a few hopeful signs.
Readers may have seen horrifying footage from Stanford Law School earlier this month as students insulted and walked out of a lecture by Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan. You may also have seen the overbearing Dean of Diversity, Tirien Steinbach, read aloud a set of prepared notes that appear to have been written by a five-year-old.
Now, after bad publicity – and perhaps some pressure from donors – law school leaders have apologized to the judge and announced that the Dean of Diversity is on leave.
Meanwhile, the Tennessee library director who berated conservative author Kirk Cameron and disrupted an event last month has been fired. Awake Allan Morales disobeyed the wish of the old librarians with a “Sssst” because he felt his policies trumped all other standards.
It’s certainly a start. But there is still a long way to go.
https://nypost.com/2023/03/23/disaster-when-countries-look-to-courts-not-ballot-box-for-politics/ A catastrophe when countries look to the courts for politics and not the ballot box