Salvo 01.18.2022 5 minutes

Justice Delayed is Justice “Don-Eyed”

Former President Donald Trump Holds Rally In Florence, Arizona

Trump 2024 would be a harsh punishment—but perhaps a just one.

Trump in 2024? Maybe!,” writes Roger Kimball at American Greatness, speaking for many fellow Trump stalwarts. His subtitle speaks more strongly: “What’s certain is not too many Americans will be willing to hand over the honor of choosing the next president to Liz Cheney and her smug, entitled, and repellent confrères.”

Would enough conservatives be willing to hand power back to the former president? Kimball’s article gives them courage. After all, if the editor of The New Criterion, able to quote poetry in Latin while adjusting his bowtie, can get past Trump’s vulgarity (which is at least willful and skillful, unlike that of most politicians), you can too.

Yet Kimball might have offered another reason why, for some voters, Trump 2024 could be attractive or even essential: the slow pace and uncertain destination of our current justice system regarding the Russia collusion hoax, including its four years and counting of sequelae.

People who still hope for justice to be done in that caper keep their eyes fixed on John Durham. It’s been a long period of hoping and eye-fixing. But what if Durham doesn’t land some bigger fish than he has so far? It may then seem to many on the right that justice will never be done—that if the hoaxers didn’t quite pull off the perfect crime, they achieved the perfect getaway. This will not sit well with everyone, or at least an electoral majority of everyone.

The ballot box of 2024 may be, by default, the real jury box for the Russia hoax. For the voter-jurors, after all the years of effrontery and unaccountability by the malefactors and their media enablers, reinstating Trump may seem like the only effective way to dispense justice. And if Biden is jettisoned and Hillary Clinton runs again in 2024, all the more so.

I don’t mean to suggest that we deplorables might reelect Trump to enable him to pursue the Democrats the way they’ve pursued him. Our side isn’t interested in taking banana-republic style actions against a preceding administration. And good for us for that. Instead, Trump 2.0 might happen because his restoration itself would be felt by the other side to be a harsh punishment—and felt by our side to be a just one.

Because merely reelecting Trump would be just punishment, it would not even be strictly necessary for him to serve out a full term. In fact, it would be typically atypical of him to run on a pledge to serve for only two years and then to hand MAGA off to his Vice President. This “Back in ’24—Out at 80” pledge would place him even more firmly on the high ground of the senescence issue that is, unfortunately, present in the present administration. However, I concede that Trump’s record in the commercial world is not one of scrupulous honoring of pledges.

Punishment, it is said, can serve three purposes: (1) specific deterrence (Jack in jail cannot carjack in jail); (2) general deterrence (jailing Jack suggests to Jill pursuit of just a lawful thrill); and (3) retribution (our just revenge on Jack and Jill). If there is insufficient prosecution of the Russia hoax to serve all these purposes, reelecting the nemesis of the perpetrators would likely do so—and then some, as to purpose number (3).

Of course, if Durham does come through, that would not foreclose the possibility of Trump 2024 on top of that. I don’t think that would be double jeopardy or cruel and unusual punishment—at least not technically. But it might be twice as nice.

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.

Suggested reading from the editors

to the newsletter