By Margaret Kimberley, BAR Exec. Editor & Senior Columnist
The latest Donald Trump indictment is no cause for celebration. The oligarchs still rule, the military industrial complex still gets public money, the criminal justice system he now faces is still constructed to ensnare Black people, and the democracy said to be protected doesn’t really exist.
There are many very serious issues which demand our attention at the current moment. July 2023 was the hottest month on record, with severe and deadly heat waves in the U.S. and the world. More than 4 million medicaid recipients have lost coverage after covid emergency programs ended, despite the fact that most of them are still eligible to receive that benefit. The U.S. continues to send money into the black hole of Ukraine while residents of Maui, Hawaii struggle to survive after devastating wildfires. The Biden administration dares to brag about a one-time payment of $700 to people who are now homeless while the military industrial complex is flush with a new infusion of $200 million.
Any and all of these issues are fodder for serious discussion, but one wouldn’t know it because the fourth Donald Trump indictment was just handed down in Georgia and has pushed every other issue out of the news cycle. District Attorney Fani Wills indicted Trump and 18 others, charging them with 41 counts of conspiring to overturn Georgia’s election results in 2020.
Clearly an indictment, much less the fourth indictment, of a former president is a legitimate news story. But the latest Trump indictment is not just resulting in headlines and clicks. It is being used to legitimize the continued failings of the Democratic Party and to brainwash the public into an epidemic of American exceptionalist nonsense.
Van Jones, CNN’s resident Black clown reporter, waxed elegiac about the indictment. “This is a beautiful system that we have. People around the world don’t have this.” Jones was once a Trump supporter, then cried on the air when Joe Biden won, and is now spewing nonsense about an unjust criminal justice system and musing on things he knows nothing about.
This latest Trump indictment is an opportunity to tell the public how prosecutors operate, how they craft Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) conspiracies, and how 161 separate acts can be used to make the case in a 98-page indictment. One of those acts involves Trump’s phone call to Georgia’s Secretary of State requesting a recount, “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state.” The words are open to interpretation, but is a request for a recount a criminal act? They are if a prosecutor wants them to be and that is what should be discussed and debated if the corporate media are going to give these trials so much attention.
One needn’t be a Trump supporter to ask questions about these cases. The U.S. criminal justice system is far from beautiful. Prosecutors nearly always win because they threaten defendants who don’t accept plea agreements. In fact, guilty pleas are more common than actual trials and that is how the “beautiful” U.S. has become the world’s biggest jailer, with more people behind bars than any other country.
Every indictment is a choice, and in the case of Trump, a political choice. He causes much of his own troubles by making a call to a Secretary of State when someone else should have done it, or having an alcoholic Rudy Giuliani make a case for election fraud. But the question needs to be asked, would Trump face any of these indictments if he weren’t running for reelection? The determination to indict again and again is an indication of political intent, and not one that serves the needs of the people.
The word “democracy” has been elevated to sacred status of late, and its use and overuse are an indication that many people are protesting too much. Trump is said to endanger a democracy that doesn’t really exist. Joe Biden was chosen to be the democrats’ choice in 2020 before most voters had any say in the primary process. The party establishment pushed everyone else out and crowned a mediocrity with cognitive impairment to be the standard bearer against Trump, who was heartily disliked by half of the public and was bound to lose.
Surely the sitting president deserves scrutiny. He is running for re-election too and with an approval rating of only 40% , a reflection of low wages and inflation that have caused a record $1 trillion in credit card debt for American workers. Biden’s team can make up a term like Bidenomics and claim success if they want, but the people know better and an anemic approval rating is the result.
Yet there is little attention if any given to the struggles of working people. The record heat is a health risk and an economic one too, as low income people struggle to keep cool without getting any government assistance in a time of crisis.
The latest indictment is at the state level, which means Trump could not pardon himself should he ever become president again. Georgia also has mandatory sentencing , a legacy of mass incarceration meant to ensnare Black people, but ironically now threatening the white nationalist former president.
But why does the idea of Trump being in jail create so much excitement? The interloper who defeated the favored but hapless Hillary Clinton would suffer for his crime of defeating her but what else would change? Any feelings of satisfaction would be empty, as a president who broke the railroad workers strike prepares to run for office claiming to be “the most pro-union president in American history.”
Trump certainly provides spectacle and as perhaps the most polarizing president in history creates emotional reactions. But he is still an ex-president who is not responsible for any of the woes facing the public. There may be satisfaction in kicking him while he is down, but no one should be confused. Trump indictments or even guilty verdicts will do nothing to change anyone’s circumstances and coverage of his legal problems will move important discussions to the sidelines. There is no benefit in fantasizing about bad outcomes for Trump or about any supposed democracy that is being protected.
-Margaret Kimberley is the author of Prejudential: Black America and the Presidents. You can support her work on Patreon and also find it on the Twitter and Telegram platforms. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.