By now, a little over a week has gone by since former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts related to falsifying business records.
There has been a tremendous amount of ink spilled by far smarter commentators than I on the jurisprudential logic of “bootstrapping” a misdemeanor that had fallen outside the statute of limitations into felonies for the purpose of bringing forth an indictment. I have a far bigger concern I would like to address here. But, before we begin, let me set some things straight:
In case there be any misunderstanding of where I stand, let me be absolutely clear on the following points:
Do I “like” Donald Trump? – Let’s take this out of the context of Trump v “insert name”. Given that dichotomy, I may very well “like Trump” more. Given the potential match up of Trump v Biden… Trump has my vote hands down. Do I like “Trump” in a vacuum? No. I think he is a boor, a buffoon, and a national embarrassment. He is a carnival barker on opium selling to our prurient interests. As one friend of mine (a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and a good friend to many of Trump’s cabinet officers) said to me, “Trump is a New York construction litigator. That is all you need to know about him.”
Do I “agree with Trump’s political philosophy”? – I would answer that question with a question… What exactly “is” Trump’s political philosophy? He is certainly not a Conservative, not by a long shot, and he is definitely not a Constitutionalist. Again…not by a long shot. He has, for the most part (though not exclusively), nominated originalist jurists to the bench, and for that I am grateful. But he does seem to put personal loyalty above fealty to the Constitution for a variety of positions.
Do I “like what Trump was able to achieve while in office?” You betcha! Though, as I mentioned above, while I disagreed with him on many things, both personally as well as politically, we often arrived at the same conclusion by taking different pathways. President Obama once said the “process was important, and we must get that right.” Trump was… is… the anthesis of this thought. Sometimes when the ship of state is sinking, process must be jettisoned in favor of righting the craft. Trump understood this and put us in a far better position at the end of his presidency than when he inherited it. President Biden has largely reversed the Trump gains and put us back to the starting line (actually substantially behind it in many respects).
Now that that is out of the way, I want to talk about something other than Trump… something that is far, far more important to me: our future… and, baby… it looks bleak.
A number of blogs ago, I posited a question: What is the “purpose” of the United States? This is an important question. Most nations don’t have a “purpose”. They exist because they exist. In fact, most states originated as nations, and after the Peace of Westphalia, became roughly what we would consider today to be “states”.
We are different.
We started first as a state (actually 13 separate states), and ultimately morphed into becoming a nation.
Our animating principle has always been antagonism towards centralized power, distrust of government, and a fundamental understanding that power ALWAYS expands and ultimately is a direct affront to liberty.
So… one could say the “purpose” of America was enshrining liberty. Anyone who looks upon our nation today, from the casual observer to the civic-minded citizen, inherently understands that “liberty” is a meaningless term. The Constitution has become nothing more than a vague guideline that can be pushed out of sight when inconvenient to the governing class. It was bad when a California legislator stated with complete indifference that the Constitution bears little in the decisions they make regarding legislation, to the sheer spectacle of the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, Chuck Schumer, demanding censorship of FoxNews for having the audacity to play videos from the security cameras of the Capitol during the January 6th events… and he said this with a complete lack of self-awareness.
But there is something even more problematic than that in our midst. There is a nexus point between the judiciary and the executive… it is the prosecutorial bar.
Prosecutors have become advocates of the criminals. Bench officers (judges) have largely paved their way to chambers through doing a stint as a prosecutor. (Very few criminal defense attorneys are elected to become judges.) The political aggrandizement by prosecutors, and the judicial gymnastics necessitated by their former colleagues on the bench, threatens the validity of the judiciary… and this might be the thing that takes our “nation” back to mere “statehood”.
Right now half the country is fine with Trump facing charges. The other half sees these charges as a weaponization of the judiciary against a political outlier. If Trump is convicted (and that is highly doubtful) he would be seen by roughly half the country to be nothing more than a political prisoner convicted by a kangaroo court.
Actually, that is not entirely true… half the country, and a good chunk of the rest of the planet.
Many of these people from overseas park their money in the U.S. for one reason and one reason only: the strength of our judiciary. It is not because of our marketplace, or our natural resources, or even our infrastructure… it is because any potential loss of cash can be mitigated by predictable court action.
Predictability is key. If I know that my contract, that has a liquidated damages clause, will be enforceable at law, I become willing to engage in contract formation. When I have little faith in the justice system, I have no predictability of what will happen if my deal goes sideways. Why put money into the U.S. economy if other nation’s legal protections are just as robust… or as the case may be… just as corrupt?
When these foreign currencies stop parking in U.S. accounts, our credit system will become compromised. When we don’t have the ability to purchase on credit, our entire way of life comes to a sudden, instant end.
We worry about EMPs, the power grid, aliens, and Chinese balloons. What we really should be worried about is a judiciary becoming co-opted and corrupted by political prosecutors.