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DonaldTrumptheformerguyassfaceNYCourthousearraignment.jpeg

Donald Trump Has Been Charged. Let's Take Stock of What This Moment Means

By Alberto Cox Délano | Politics | April 6, 2023 |

By Alberto Cox Délano | Politics | April 6, 2023 |


DonaldTrumptheformerguyassfaceNYCourthousearraignment.jpeg

I know, you are right to be skeptical.

This feels like catching the big fish while 50 miles out to sea, surrounded by sharks that will chomp this victory until the only thing we can show for is just a bunch of bones and the tail. I know that the former guy being indicted and arraigned has been, so far, an incomplete symbolic moment, because even though he’s technically been arrested, he was allowed to go back to another state, to his own property where’s he’s also been allowed to give a speech. That’s how the law works for the extremely wealthy and powerful, even those who are only pretending to be extremely wealthy. Meanwhile, other states in the US are barreling further into autocracy, while members of the Supreme Court can openly take what amounts to a bribe and suffer no consequences. So yes, this feels like just a moment, not a sea change. But here’s the thing: sometimes we can be so caught up in the details of a historical moment, we are unable to realize that the sum of the details is less than the whole. Recent history has made us, with reason, jaded and skeptical, whether in the US or anywhere else in the world. And yet, we’re forgetting that these are exceptional times, not just when the news is bad. Because when things go wrong for bad people, like the former guy, the good news for everyone will also be exceptional. As they said the moment he was elected, “This isn’t normal”— it just happens to work both ways.

And yes, I know that there are the polls, which claim that 45% of the country supports him being prosecuted, while another 45% believes that the charges are politically motivated. What’s the surprise there? 20% of the US population are fascists, and the other 25% are the kind of people that would look the other way when others are taken to concentration camps, in broad daylight. And yes, I know that these charges look like small change compared to the other things he has done. There’s his failed attempt at stealing the election, the way he actively incited the mob on January 6th, there are the countless accusations of conflicts of interests and corruption while he was in office, the accusations of sexual assault, the whole thing with him selling Top Secret documents to Saudi Arabia. There is also the treatment he gave migrants, his deliberate negligence in dealing with COVID, and the way he stirred up a wave of open racism in politics, but we all know no US president is getting prosecuted for that.

As unprecedented as all of this has been, as much as it seems like his presidency was the ultimate triumph by the United States’ racist oligarchy, here we are. He’s been indicted and arraigned. His fingerprints are in the system. There’s probably a mugshot that will inevitably be leaked. The algorithms of the justice system seem to be working, with a major lag, but working still: everyone being equal under the law. Whatever systems are there to prevent people like him from experiencing consequences, the algorithms of justice have kept marching on. The evidence is fucking overwhelming. Should we be surprised? After all, he has been impeached, twice over. He lost the popular vote twice, or four times if you count the midterms. Doesn’t it make logical sense that unprecedented corruption would be followed by unprecedented legal consequences, namely, being the first US President to stand trial? The first one to break a cycle of impunity that some say started with Watergate, passed through the Iran-Contras to collect more money, and ended with George W. Bush’s stealing Florida’s votes and launching unlawful wars. And yes, you are also right to think that he’ll just be the oligarchy’s acceptable sacrifice like Weinstein was for Hollywood or Derek Chauvin for the police.

And yet still, precedent is precedent is precedent. This crack in the wall of impunity is actually taking place. This case is training us to realize that it can be done, that accountability is possible. We have realized that these people, just like the mob, will inevitably make a mistake, because they can’t help but to seize an arm when they’re given a hand. This case proves it, these charges show that the oligarchs are vulnerable. But more importantly, in regards to the former guy, this is the first domino. Throwing the book at these people for their petty, almost low-level corruption, is something that can’t be underestimated, because it ties them down in place, sometimes literally, leaving them exposed and easier a target. It helped us start prosecuting Pinochet within Chile. It was what doomed Al Capone.

This leads me to the best part, what should’ve been “inbreathiating” about this historical moment, these baby steps towards justice. There’s one fact about everything that I just wrote right now, something about the former guy’s current misfortune, about this proper historical moment that we have been unable to appreciate: all of this is happening because he just couldn’t keep it in his pants.

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Alberto Cox would like to know whatever happened to John Edwards.