Lock the MFer Up

There will be no healing without justice. There is no justice if Donald Trump faces no consequences for his actions.

Hey, y’all: I, um, seem to have forgotten to upload my columns the last two weeks when I filed them. I apologize for that. You can find them here and here.

For all the nefarious crap Florida Republicans pulled in 2000—there was plenty, beginning with a racist purge of the state’s voter rolls—at least that was a legitimately close election. A 537-vote difference, capping a 500,000-vote national margin, is a rounding error.

That wasn’t the case this year. Joe Biden won enough states to claim 306 electoral votes. When California and New York finish counting, he’ll beat Donald Trump by about 4.5 points and secure the largest share of the electorate of any presidential challenger since FDR. It wasn’t a blowout, but it was decisive.

Yet here we are, almost three weeks later, the president refusing to concede despite having been laughed out of court after court, his lawyers reduced to spinning ridiculous yarns about vast conspiracies to erase millions of votes and/or conduct fraud in big (Black) cities such as Detroit and Philadelphia.

The freakshow reached a delusional peak at a press conference Thursday, when Trump lawyer Sidney Powell—who also ginned up deep-state nonsense while defending Michael Flynn—told the nation about her acid trip:

“I want the American public to know right now that we will not be intimidated. American patriots are fed up with the corruption at the local level to the highest level of our government. We are going to take this country back. We are not going to be intimidated. We are not going to back down. We are going to clean this mess up now. President Trump won by a landslide. We are going to prove it.”

To reiterate, the guy she says “won by a landslide” will lose by well over 6 million votes.

The issue isn’t that bottom-barrel lawyers are willing to humiliate themselves for Donald Trump by saying stupid things. Elect a clown, get a circus, after all.  

No, the issue is that this paranoid quackery is no longer confined to the sad internet message boards and psychiatric wards where it belongs. It’s gone mainstream, elevated not just by Trump and the usual Fox News lackeys but also by ascendant propaganda networks like Newsmax and OANN, which are dueling to see who can stick their heads furthest up the president’s ass. And it’s being promoted by the Republican National Committee—the party once home to Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt that’s now completing a generation-long descent into madness.

More importantly, these incoherent ramblings also form the basis of the president’s overt ploy to subvert the election by convincing Republican legislatures to ignore their states’ voters and certify their own slates of electors.

In other words, Trump is plotting a coup. And the Republican Party endorsed it.

That this effort was both predictable and is almost certain to fail doesn’t matter. Nor does it matter if some Republicans are indulging his fantasies to placate his base. What matters is that Trump has cracked open the door to an authoritarian takeover and found millions willing to embrace it—and a craven political party too weak to get in the way.

This is a crime against democracy. It cannot go unanswered.

In his fits of pique and petulance, however, Trump is also committing crimes against humanity.

Within weeks, the US will notch 200,000 new COVID cases and 2,000 COVID deaths per day. The president is AWOL. Worse, actually. He’s actively blocking the next administration from vaccine-distribution plans. People will die as a result. This, too, demands retribution. 

As the second wave explodes, 12 million Americans will soon lose federal unemployment assistance, setting up an economic catastrophe. Neither Trump nor Senate Republicans have lifted a finger to help. Worse, again, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin ended the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending programs over the objections of the Fed and the Chamber of Commerce, which complained that the decision “unnecessarily ties the hands of the incoming administration.”

You think?

The same motive applies to Trump’s last-minute foreign policy moves, including (whatever the merits) an abrupt troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq and a massive arms sale in the Middle East. A senior adviser told CNN that—in CNN’s words—the “goal is to set so many fires that it will be hard for the Biden administration to put them all out.”

If Trump can’t have it, he wants to watch it burn.

Herein lies Joe Biden’s dilemma.

As former New Jersey attorney general Anne Milgram told The New York Times Magazine, “This whole presidency has been about someone who thought he was above the law. If he isn’t held accountable for possible crimes, then he literally was above the law.”

Putting aside his recent sedition and the wanton destruction of democratic norms that characterized his term, there is ample if not incontrovertible evidence that Trump obstructed justice, solicited foreign election interference, and committed federal campaign fraud, crimes that would have led to charges were he not president. He routed millions of inaugural and taxpayer dollars to his private business. And he’s very likely committed tax fraud.

But if Biden’s Department of Justice prosecutes him—even if the State of New York prosecutes him, as seems increasingly possible—there’s a very real possibility that the Spectacle of Trump will consume Biden’s presidency, end any chance to bridge divides, and derail his agenda. It would also set a precedent that future presidents would inevitably exploit regardless of justification.

The president-elect, an adviser told NBC News, “just wants to move on.”

In a way, it’s hard to blame him. But there are some things you can’t move on from. There are some poisons that must be sucked from the body politic before they kill us.

Donald Trump and the movement he inspired won’t be wished away. And there can be no common ground with a political party that embraces delusion and undermines democracy. It must be crushed into powder.

Trump’s behavior during his presidency was often despicable. Trump’s behavior since the election has been unforgivable.

There will be no healing without justice. And there can be no justice if Donald Trump escapes the consequences of his actions.

What I’m trying to say is this: Lock the motherfucker up.