OPINION: Finding a ‘way out’ when Trump and the court have tried to close every door

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Last week, we discussed how the Donald Trump-leaning supreme court has helped put American democracy in a “no win” situation. We suggested that this has been done by the court (1) allowing him to remain on the presidential ballot despite the clear prohibition of the 14th Amendment, (2) not declaring that he is not exempt from prosecution for crimes committed while in office, and (3) delaying actions that enable him to possibly get elected president before coming to trial.

Beyond those actions by the court, however, American democracy is placed in further jeopardy by Trump and his cronies and advisors spelling out plainly how they would take revenge against his perceived enemies, re-structure the government in such a way that he could rule like a dictator, select only “yes people” to carry out his policies, round-up undesirable immigrants and send them out of the country, and in other ways place the country under what they perceive as white Christian nationalism, if he gets back in office. 

One can witness evidence of Trump depending upon the court to assist him in his efforts. One can also attest to the fact that a majority of the supreme court justices seem willing to go with him, all the way. If that be the case, given the fact that the supreme court is the last word on legal matters, it would appear that all of the doors would be closed, shutting-off the chance to salvage or protect democracy as contemporary Americans have come to know it.

One of our biggest disappointments is that the current administration, through the justice department, has allowed things to get to this breaking-point. Another is the timidity with which opponents of fascism, inside and outside of government, have dealt with the open threats of the white nationalists. Thirdly, it has been almost shocking how the American people have been mis-informed about the realities of what could and could not happen to Trump because of his criminal activities. They were first led to believe that he would be arrested almost immediately after leaving office, based upon findings from the Mueller Report and the Report of the January 6th Congressional Committee headed by Mississippi Congressman Bennie G. Thompson. Then, they were led to believe that if he was convicted, he could not serve because he would be confined. Now, they are told that he could possibly even serve from jail and that the only sure way of keeping him out of the White House is by defeating him in the November election.

This brings us to the final point of this article – what happens after the November election. If Trump is defeated, there is perhaps a 100% certainty that the matter will be appealed to the supreme court, on some technicality. Given the behavior of the court, it would not be surprising to see the majority hand the presidency to Trump as a previous court handed it to George W. Bush. Action could then shift to congress or to some mode of defying the court itself. On the other hand, if Trump wins the election, there will certainly be a struggle between the executive office and congress, if congress ends up being controlled by the Democrats. If the Republicans are in control of congress, however, Trump’s policies will simply prevail and there would not even be any pretense. 

The short of the matter is that the fate of American democracy rests on how informed, committed, and courageous the American people are between now and the November election. It also depends upon the rulings of the supreme court and how they are received. 

Although it is redundant to say the least, it is critically important that every vulnerable citizen, those who are not the favorites of the Trump MAGA crowd, votes and encourages his/her like-minded family and acquaintances to vote. This includes not just those in the so-called swing states, but everywhere. That will put pressure on the Trumpers to utilize money and human resources all over the country, lest they lose in states that they had considered as safe in their column. In addition to voting, vulnerable citizens must get in the habit of monitoring all critical political processes at every level of government and advancing democracy at every opportunity. 

If things go wrong in November, there will be little to no time to fix them. If they go right, it will be time to get behind the protectors of democracy to, among other things, (1) expand the size of the supreme court; (2) establish a code of conduct for the supreme court justices; (3) provide stronger laws for the implementation of the Voting Rights Act, the 14th Amendment, and criminal justice reform; (4) provide statehood for Washington D.C.; and (5) eliminate the electoral college and other undemocratic relics from the political process. Changes such as these would make it difficult for would-be dictators to close the doors on democracy in the future. 

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OPINION: Finding a ‘way out’ when Trump and the court have tried to close every door

By Dr. Ivory Phillips
June 10, 2024