Last week on Counterspin, Janine Jackson mentioned some potential reasons why the Democrats and the country at large don’t want to charge Trump for laws he almost certainly broke. She mentioned concerns that Republicans would scream and holler and that it would be presented as partisan by the press. I think these are real issues but I don’t think they are the main issue.
I think Democrats are concerned that if they charge Donald Trump with crimes, there will be retaliation. As soon as Republicans are back in power (which will almost certainly happen partially in the next year and then fully less than 3 years from now), Joe Biden and other Democrats will be charged with crimes as simple payback.
And, of course, it won’t matter at all that there is no substance to such prosecutions. It won’t even mean that no dirt will be dug up. Look at what the Republicans did when Bill Clinton allowed them an open-ended investigation. After years of digging, they found something real. It was bullshit. But it was real and it led to the most disingenuous impeachment in history.
It’s Not Turnabout
The problem is that you can never depend upon Republicans to act in a reasonable way. And that’s especially true if you are reaching out to them and trying to deal with them in good faith. They see it as simple weakness. They go for the jugular.
So not indicting Trump will not lead to the Republican Party saying, “You know, they treated us well when we were in power. Let’s do the same now that we are in power!” If anything, it will be the opposite. But more likely, it doesn’t matter. They will try to throw Biden in prison if Trump is indicted and they will try to throw Biden in prison if Trump is not indicted.
But this isn’t just an issue of some Democrats being abused. The larger issue here is that we live inside a completely fucked up political system. We know that a fascist party is going to be back in power soon. Really doesn’t matter what goes on. Our system is designed to be anti-democratic. And through the machinations of conservatives over decades, it is far less democratic still.
There is literally nothing the Republicans could do that is so bad that they won’t be re-elected every couple of terms. Look at Richard Nixon. He resigned and disgrace in late 1974. In 1976 the Republicans lost the White House in a very close election. And in 1980, they won it back in a landslide and held on to it for 12 years.
George W Bush was an absolutely horrible president who committed war crimes. And that got him two terms as president. Then America, in its great wisdom installed a reality TV star who is stupid, ignorant, small-minded, and vicious because that’s who we are.
And I think the odds are better than even that our country will elect him again in 3 years.
So it’s not like the Democrats’ concern that a corrupt government will go after them are unfounded. I don’t think it does us a lot of good to focus on the weakness of politicians. We should focus on the fact that we have a government that will change every couple of terms. And it does not matter how horrible and incompetent that party is.
Of course, that might all change when the Republicans next get power. They could legislate this country into single-party minority rule. Watching how much Republicans love Viktor Orbán makes me believe that is the plan.