OPINION: The mess in which America finds itself could have been avoided, even without hindsight

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Back in the early days of black and white movies, comedian Oliver Hardy popularized a statement directed at his partner Stan Laurel. Each time they found themselves in a dangerous or difficult situation, he would moan, “Well here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten us into.” 

Today, when Americans consider the predicament of this country – the danger of being forced into a dictatorship – they can say to themselves, their neighbors, and associates, “Here is another mess into which we’ve have gotten ourselves.”

They have to change the pronouns because they walked into it themselves. The dangerous and difficult predicament could and should have been easily avoided. Without even the need for hindsight, Americans could have predicted the position Donald Trump has positioned us into today. Nearly all of the elements had been apparent months, and some even years ago.

Throughout the presidential campaign of 2016 the country heard almost daily just who Trump is. Despite that, he was elected president and for the next four years they learned even more definitely who he is and the mess into which he could and often did get us. Then, that mess was capped-off by the extensive effort to overturn the 2020 election rather than peacefully leave office.

Hundreds of Trump cohorts were arrested and convicted for attacking the Capitol, threatening lives and assaulting officers, and staging an insurrection. Scores of others were indicted and convicted for their roles in violating state and federal laws relative to the election. Nevertheless, none of this stopped Trump as he proceeded to take and refuse to return government papers upon leaving the White House.

Now, rather than being behind bars for all of his actions, he is poised to become the Republican Party nominee for president of the United States. He is riding high in the polls, often ahead of President Joe Biden. Time seems to be on Trump’s side when it comes to escaping punishment and possibly being elected, putting us in the biggest mess ever.

On the other hand, based on the Mueller Report, Trump should have been indicted and convicted, despite his escaping impeachment. This report indicates Trump obstructed justice and broke the law. Beyond that and even more convincingly, based upon the Congressional January 6th Report, he should have been immediately indicted for the insurrection and other election crimes.

Instead of either of those outcomes, the U.S. Attorney General dallied too long in appointing Jack Smith as a special counsel to use the congressional material and other evidence to investigate and indict Trump. While being cautious, lest legal action backfire to Trump’s advantage, Merrick Garland has allowed too much time to pass, jeopardizing the chance of a Trump trial and conviction before the November 2024 election.

Even without hindsight, there were some truths and realities which one could realize would be at play. (1) No matter how early or how late legal action was taken, Trump and his allies would complain that it was a political move, a witch hunt. (2) There would be judges along the way who would do whatever they could to derail any conviction and/or delay the actions, enabling him to get elected before any conviction. (3) Trump would travel the country lying and winning supporters, no matter what was happening in the courts. (4) An increasing number of Republicans would cave-in and help Trump because of their fear of his base support, the mob – organized and otherwise, and of being publicly embarrassed by him. (5) Racism and hatred have long been strong in America and Trump would continue appealing to such feelings, thereby gaining support. (6) The Supreme Court is Trump’s ace in the hole, in each and every case, since he appointed three of the justices and seemingly has at least two others in his pocket. (7) There is no soft and easy way to deal with Trump and Trumpism and expect to secure justice. 

All of this most Americans knew and thus could have acted upon, helping avoid the mess in which we find ourselves. Yet, here we are under the threat of having Trump elected again as president and of America becoming a dictatorship. 

The only sure escape from this outcome is for the American people to come out in massive numbers in the so-called swing states to vote against Donald Trump, while voters in the other states hold the line. 

Although President Joe Biden may not be all that one had hoped for, he is a far better choice than Trump. One may oppose Biden on one or two issues. Trump is on the wrong side on virtually every issue, especially those dealing with civil and human rights. 

Trump has shown that his major motivations are to remain out of jail, to increase his wealth, and to be a dictator. Allowing him back in the White House would be truly the worst mess in which America could find itself.  

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OPINION: The mess in which America finds itself could have been avoided, even without hindsight

By Dr. Ivory Phillips
March 18, 2024