Salvo 03.31.2023 5 minutes

American Banana Republic

Donald Trump Holds First Rally Of 2024 Presidential Campaign

The indictment of Donald Trump is a tipping point for free government.

News of the indictment against former President Donald Trump came yesterday afternoon like a shot heard ‘round the world—but this one heralds the triumph of tyranny rather than liberty. A grand jury empaneled by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has indicted Trump on charges that, while under seal, are likely related to payments Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen made to Stormy Daniels prior to Trump running for president.

The irony is not lost on us that Bragg’s entire modus operandi as DA is decidedly against enforcing the criminal law in New York City. He has actively shirked his responsibilities and failed to press charges regarding all manner of crime, from subway fare evasion to robbery to assault. Suddenly, what was an expired misdemeanor that Bragg’s predecessor—and even Bragg himself until recently—declined to prosecute has become a grave threat to “our democracy.” Nor have we forgotten the staying power of New York State chief judge Sol Wachtler’s famous dictum, popularized by Tom Wolfe, that “a grand jury would ‘indict a ham sandwich,’ if that’s what you wanted.”

But what is new, beyond the milestone of the first indictment of a former American president, is the motive and the means behind it. Yes, the partisan Left will finally live out its fantasy of a Blue Day of Vengeance: Trump fingerprinted, perp walked, perhaps even “frog marched,” as they love to say, in full view of the cameras and—thanks to the media they control—the world. Behind the spectacle, however, the machinery dismantling the vestiges of the Republic grinds on. While some focus on how the indictment will rally Republicans around Trump’s renomination, and others calculate fresh odds for Florida governor Ron DeSantis, the regime accelerates its acquisition and consolidation of unprecedented and un-American political, cultural, financial, and coercive power.

The latest episode of the Orange Man soap opera is of a piece, and a critical one at that, with the regime’s march toward mastery. Like it or not, Trump has willingly become a symbol and stand-in for the vast swath of American people the regime sees, and ever more nakedly treats, as an enemy to be persecuted, prosecuted, censored, surveilled, and demoralized across the full spectrum of public and private life: in short, to be stripped of its constitutionally guaranteed form of government, and forcibly onboarded into a new and alien system of complete and automated control.

For patriotic Americans everywhere, Trump’s pending surrender to the authorities portends an uncomfortable truth we must confront if we want to have any hope of reclaiming our long-held, hard-earned rights as a self-governing people. The prosecution of Trump is the tip of the spear in the regime’s effort to reground its sovereignty and authority in a new “rules-based” domestic order impenetrable to citizen politics, from the creation of Central Bank Digital Currencies and banning of cryptocurrencies to the official religious establishment of the “trans community” as “people who shape our nation’s soul” in the aftermath of its storming of multiple state capitals and the targeted terroristic slaughter of Christian schoolchildren by one of its members. For centuries, perhaps millennia, despotism was associated with stagnation and lethargy. Today’s tyrannical regime is characterized by the blinding speed with which it terraforms its people.

All this does not spring from Trump’s indictment, but, rather, the reverse. This latest attempt at an all-but-literal kill shot against the sitting president’s leading rival for the presidency reveals that the regime’s new mode is to use the law as a means to extralegal ends, rewarding its favorites and punishing its foes according to its grand post-constitutional design.

Yesterday and today, it is Trump who is attacked “six ways from Sunday” by the coordinated borg that includes the alphabet soup of administrative agencies, its pliant members of Congress, its Big Tech franchises, its farrago of allied “non-governmental” organizations at home and abroad, and those corporate and individual interests who pour in funds and personnel. Today and tomorrow, it is you. We applaud Governor Ron DeSantis, who has properly identified Bragg’s gambit as “un-American” and made it clear that “Florida will not assist in an extradition request given the questionable circumstances at issue with this Soros-backed Manhattan prosecutor and his political agenda.” We also need more from all patriotic public officials and private citizens.

Regardless of all subsidiary details about who supports which candidate and what scenarios might benefit which factions, at bottom is the inescapable reality that the crusade against Trump is a pitched battle in the war to overthrow, once and for all, the Republic. As Trump himself lucidly put it in 2019, while facing his first impeachment, “they’re not after me, they’re after you; I’m just in the way.” That’s true even if Trump is not your first choice for ‘24—even if you long to see him recede in the rear-view mirror safely over the horizon of public life. The regime may not ever let him return to power, but it will not allow him to live in peace, either. It seeks an unconditional victory through the unconditional humiliation of its enemies.

As the threat concerns the fate of the Republic, not just the Republican nominee, Americans must not only grasp the stakes but act with commensurate courage and speed. Even if officials in Washington find it within them to rebuff and rein in the regime, the decisive field is at the state level, where the people and their duly elected governors and representatives must set about securing citizens’ foundational rights and freedoms across business, commerce, education, finance, religion, family, and technology, in public and private life, online and off.

The “altars of freedom,” as Abraham Lincoln once called them in a letter to a Civil War widow, are being desecrated by design. Salvaging republican government as it was handed down to us from the American Founders might no longer be possible. But the only way to find out is to perform the sacred duty we owe ourselves and our posterity to try.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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