The Indictment of America

Like all of us, Donald Trump is a flawed man, but he has become a symbol to those who vested him with a sacred trust. He was made president by us to lead our nation. He fulfilled his part of that bargain, as far as he was able. But too late. The government we asked him to administer was already too corrupt to allow him to do the job, lest they themselves be held to account. Now his persecution for doing what voters asked him to do is breaking the very covenant of government under which we live.

The political drift of the last 100 years has, with a few brief exceptions, been toward authoritarian rule. With the subversion of the English Common Law that had been our foundation, the last bastion of the Republic has fallen. The why and how are worth considering, but the “what” is now before us.

Nancy Pelosi gave away the game (yet again) last week when she said that President Trump had every right to “prove his innocence,” a sentiment applauded by her fellows, who share a total lack of understanding of just how this reverses the presumption of innocence as well as the foundational direction of our nation. When she tore up the president’s State of the Union speech behind his back after he spoke, it was enough to make her sense of the world clear. Her haughty response to a question about the details of the Affordable Care Act—“we have to pass the [health care] bill so that you can find out what’s in it”—was another. And her mocking laughter in the face of a query about the constitutionality of Obamacare was still another.

A grand jury in New York City has indicted President Trump, but this is problematic. The allegations against him are unworthy of grand jury attention, even after the penalties for these so-called crimes were increased, post facto, from potential misdemeanors to felonies by the wave of a single judicial hand. Laws are now made that way, as if by magic, and not by legislatures as the Constitution once demanded. We are now ruled by men, not laws, and the struggle for power amongst them will ruin us. 

Once upon a time, in the America into which I was born, a defendant had the right to confront his accusers, and the right to a trial by a jury of his peers. Most importantly, the law was the same for every citizen, no matter his station in life. Those are quaint conceits now. But we have not abandoned that past so much as regressed far back into our own history. The conduct of the colonial-era Salem witch trials is now the standard.

Quite appropriately, Trump has repeatedly invoked the image of a “witch hunt,” in his own defense. Though it too often goes unnoticed in our age of legally enforced sexism and the resultant sexual dysphoria, a sizable number of those 200 arrested by the authorities for witchcraft in 1692, and six of the 20 finally executed at Salem, were men. It is not an unimportant detail in our own age of ignorance and forgetfulness that one of those hanged during that hysteria was Reverend George Burroughs, a good man who was well known to be of help to others in times of danger and privation but convicted solely on the twisted testimony of a single witness, a verdict then approved by a leading intellectual of the moment, Cotton Mather.

We were not yet a nation in those days, but it was less than a century before the writing of the Constitution. So these historical facts well informed the framers. Never again was a thought echoed in both debate and essay of the time. “In all very numerous assemblies,” James Madison wrote, “of whatever characters composed, passion never fails to wrest the sceptre from reason. Had every Athenian been a Socrates; every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.”

It was in the teaching of such historical facts—facts an eighth grader once could relate—that the republic flourished. Teachers saw their role as the preservation, instruction in, and inspiration of acquiring knowledge. That much, sadly, ended as the process of education became systemized and homogenized by growing state government, and then by federal prerogatives, all flexing their power and privileges over the governed. The John Dewey acolytes who replaced the old order saw their mission as one of making a better world—not in understanding the world they inherited. The new religion of socialism became the guiding mantra. 

The socialist reeducation of the public which has been the lynchpin of progressive government for all the last 100 years, grew not only here but in most of Western Europe. Its success is mixed, but relentless. Two world wars were not sufficient to stay their desire to unite Europe into one power. The United States alone remained a bulwark against this because, unlike European nations with cultural customs that could be suppressed as vestiges of ancient decadence, our nation was new, and its historical roots were in the aspirations of its settlers. Our worst failings, carried from Europe, such those witch trials and slavery, only served in contrast to our better hopes and aims, and those values were quickly tested by fire in a Civil War. 

Democracy had its weaknesses, and the framework of a constitutional republic was the answer. Socrates drank the hemlock in accordance with the verdict of those same laws under which he had lived and prospered. To ignore them would be to break the framework of civilization as he knew it. Better to die. Now, with the framework of our own civilization broken and discarded, the whirlwind of the mob is loose once more, and dictatorship and tyranny are soon to follow.

The dismantling of the republic has taken so long because, even while they are ill-educated, most citizens have understood that their own welfare is tied to that of the nation. Their nation. When the political opponents of those socialists won election, there was no thought to put them on trial or punish them for political apostasy. The project of the founders was simply continued. 

But this organic process has now ended. That alone would be cause for the death of any republic. That our laws are now made by the bureaucracy of a bloated state more interested in preserving its own power than in any constitutional justification for its existence would be another poison to make an end of it. That our governance is no longer carried on by men and women of conscience but by moral reprobates would be bad enough. That their actions are bought and paid for by international cartels vying for power amongst themselves with little care for collateral damage is more than enough. That what once passed for a free press has now coalesced into willing accomplices with these cabals in order to secure for themselves a place at the high table is sufficient. But it is finally the madness of the mob which has destroyed any semblance of rational governance.

The indictment is a mere formality, however frivolous. The verdict will be guilty. A crime to fit will be found. But as history instructs, there is no reason to die to preserve such insanity. There is every reason to live, in order to reestablish what has been lost.

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About Vincent McCaffrey

Vincent McCaffrey is a novelist and bookseller. Visit his website at www.vincentmccaffrey.com.

Photo: ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images