By MICHAEL DAVIDOW, Radio Free New Hampshire
It’s hard to develop perspective on what we have gone through lately. But let me try.
As a criminal defense attorney, I apply a simple set of metrics to my cases. Perhaps the most basic division is between crimes that have victims and crimes that don’t.
Some of these victimless crimes arise when a pleasant person makes an honest mistake. Consider the person who drives a car without knowing that their license is suspended. People get arrested for that all the time. A more serious victimless crime could be the possession of an illegal drug. Nobody is hurt by that crime, but because that drug might only be available because others are breaking the law, things get more complicated.
Crimes with victims come in different flavors too. People can be hurt financially. They can have their property compromised in some fashion. That robs them of peace and quiet. They can be physically affected — either in some passing way, or some lasting way. People can be hurt quite badly. People get arrested for hurting other people all the time. People even kill each other.
The circumstances under which people act are also quite significant. So I make distinctions again, between those who hurt other people on the spur of the moment, for instance, as opposed to those who hurt other people with planning and foresight. I also distinguish between those who themselves are ill, or otherwise pathetic, and those who have advantages.
Most people also lead fairly circumscribed lives. Their crimes affect their victims and perhaps a small circle of people surrounding them. Then there are crimes that have a broader effect; crimes that either harm an entire community, or are meant to do so. Hate crimes, for instance, are broadly offensive by their very nature.
All different kinds of crimes. We deal with them every day in our courts. We sort them through, and some people are punished with a slap on the wrist, while others get more serious punishments, up to and including years and years in prison. It’s dime common.
Some perspective, then: Donald Trump, who claims to be a billionaire, engaged in a months-long course of criminal-minded conduct, actively trying to overthrow our government; first engaging in a coordinated program of lies, then attempting to bully elected officials to abandon their mandated responsibilities, then openly displaying his contempt for not just the law itself, but also for the people burdened with its execution.
Then, finally, he urged thousands of his supporters to physically attack the actual physical seat of our nation’s government, while it was in the actual physical process of counting votes, and they did so at his behest, and several people died, our nation’s honor was trashed, his own vice president was threatened with being hanged, images of that lawlessness were beamed across the world to the horror of our allies and the delight of our enemies, and our nation’s reputation has been destroyed so completely that it will take another two hundred years for it to return to where it was before, if it ever can.
He did it on purpose, people were killed, and his victim is the world. He is now in Florida playing golf.
We are not looking to make him pay a fine, which he would have to do if he drove a car to the grocery store without a license. We are not looking to give him a suspended jail sentence, which he might well get if he stole a candy bar from a gas station. We are not telling him to spend a weekend in jail, as drunk drivers do. We are not putting him in prison, where murderers go. We are simply asking the Senate to impeach him, to make sure that he can never run for office again — in a land that he despises and that he has done everything within his power to ruin. It isn’t asking much. But it’s all we’ve got.
More perspective: who is kidding who. I recall a thousand years ago, when John McCain was running against Barack Obama. Some woman at one of his campaign rallies spoke ugly things about Obama. So McCain corrected her. He told her that he respected Obama; that Obama was a decent American; that they disagreed about politics, but that doing so was perfectly acceptable. And he was praised for correcting that woman, who had so grievously misunderstood what American politics was about.
So it’s clear. This problem did not begin with Trump. It was there before Trump, and it will remain now that he is gone. But for McCain’s vision of America to prevail– for any vision of America to prevail, for America to become special again, for it to stop advertising itself as just another vicious country run by whatever group of thugs manages to gain control — we need to repudiate Trump himself as thoroughly and completely as possible.
Some perspective: he had better not steal any candy bars. Because then he’d really be in trouble.
Michael Davidow is a lawyer in Nashua. He is the author of Gate City, Split Thirty, and The Rocketdyne Commission, three novels about politics and advertising which, taken together, form The Henry Bell Project. His most recent one is The Book of Order. They are available on Amazon.
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