Less partisan observers of Donald Trump might have been able to warn the Biden administration against harrying him over the official documents he took with him to his home in Florida after resentfully departing the White House. There was no urgency for the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago, since efforts to recover the documents were already underway.
It seems not to have occurred to Democrats that a raid would only rebuild support for Trump, which had been waning. Their fear and hatred of the man blind them to the nature of his support. But Trump has perfectly understood his support from the beginning of his entry into presidential politics. Campaigning in Iowa in January 2016 he famously observed: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters. It’s incredible.”
Trump can be vulgar and intemperate, and, worse, reckless, unstable, cruel, and indifferent to his ignorance. He embodies contempt for politics, government, and even democratic norms, as well as contempt for the political correctness, elitism, and hypocrisy of news organizations, academia, and the rest of the political left.
Tens of millions of Americans shared his contempt six years ago and still do, since the political correctness, elitism, and hypocrisy of the ruling class have only intensified since Hillary Clinton dismissed Trump’s supporters as “deplorables.”
For what was said of Grover Cleveland’s supporters long ago may be said of Trump’s as well: “They love him most for the enemies he has made.”
Even some people appalled by Trump’s character will acknowledge the hypocrisy and unfairness of his adversaries, resentment of which increasingly motivates his supporters. The Russian “collusion” scandal went on for years only to turn out to have been an invention of the Clinton campaign and FBI. Any impropriety committed by Trump with the documents taken to Mar-a-Lago is likely small compared to the improprieties committed by Clinton with her official email while secretary of state, for which she got a pass.
While news organizations are obsessed with the Mar-a-Lago documents, they continue to suppress the growing evidence of Hunter Biden’s foreign influence-peddling business and its many connections to his father, whose denials of involvement have been lies. Indeed, his son’s dealings may have left the president vulnerable to blackmail by China.
Democrats seem to think that they will be rid of Trump if they can put him in prison or at least convict him criminally. While the Biden Justice Department was plotting its raid on Mar-a-Lago, New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, was continuing her investigation of Trump’s businesses, having campaigned for her office on a pledge to get Trump one way or another. This recalled the infamous boast of the Soviet secret police chief, Lavrentiy Beria: “Show me the man and I’ll show you the crime.”
Yes, no one should be above the law. But as was seen with Hillary Clinton, the law leaves plenty of room for political and prosecutorial discretion, and driving a stake through the heart of the Trumpian vampire may require much more than a conviction. After all, even putting Trump in prison wouldn’t prevent him from running for president again. In 1920 while held in federal prison for sedition, having opposed the draft during World War I, labor leader Eugene V. Debs was the Socialist Party candidate for president and got 3.4% of the vote. He said that if elected he would pardon himself.
Trump already may have that idea.
So what can be done to prevent Trump’s return to the presidency?
First, of course, is to end the disaster of Joe Biden’s presidency. Second is to stop making government and politics so contemptible. Third is to stifle the brazen hypocrisy and unfairness. Fourth is to replace hyperbole and invective with reason and a desire to persuade the other side rather than demonize it and rile up one’s own, as Connecticut U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, seeking re-election, did again last weekend at a state Democratic Party rally.
Ever more extreme and demagogic, Blumenthal declared: “No woman will be safe in America if Mitch McConnell is elected majority leader.”
If taken seriously such Trump-like talk could incite civil war.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Connecticut.