By Carlton Joseph
Abraham Lincoln: “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure; permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”
Lincoln’s pronouncement is about to be tested; the Presidency of Donald Trump has exposed the fault-line in America’s democracy. The union is about to be seriously tested, and could be dissolved and be replaced by fascism.
Anyone with a penchant for history will realize that America’s house is divided; this does not mean that the country was not always divided, but it has arrived at a critical juncture where dialectical thinking is mandatory. The country must analyze its situation from various perspectives so as to get to the truth, no matter how messy or complicated that truth might be. Unfortunately, in today’s America there is no getting at the truth, obvious truths are challenged as lies and obvious lies are purported to be truths. Even the definition of what is a man or woman is being challenged.
Recently, the FBI was granted a warrant to search Trump’s home to retrieve government documents. It was the first time that the Department of Justice had to obtain such a warrant on a former president, but it was the first time that a former president had refused to turn over government documents or stored such documents in his private home. This is simply matter that has been blown out of proportion by people intent on seizing power by force. Trump was not being charged with a crime; the government just wanted to retrieve its property.
What is interesting is that Trump does not seem to understand that when you become President, every document, picture, or any type of media that is generated belongs to the state. Every President or Prime Minister of every democratic country in the world understands and accepts that all documents created during their administration belongs to the country, it is not their personal documents.
Similarly, if you are a government contractor and you perform work for the government, everything that is generated on that contract belongs to the government. My company used to be a government contractor with a Top-Secret clearance. The company had contracts where I had to sign a “need to know” document if I needed to read information on the contract. In fact, the company had some contracts that I had no idea what my employees were working on.
Trump and republican lawmakers who are now acting as though the FBI violated Trump represent the most disgusting and disturbing of developments since the January 6th insurrection. The nation is being divided and it might not stand. Election forum, a rightwing newsletter wrote: ‘The weaponized and politicized FBI raid on Trump is reminiscent of Venezuela, not America, and that if you love America or freedom, you should be shaken, frightened, in tears, and feel outrage and be brokenhearted by the corruption and abuse of power by the DOJ.’
This was not a raid; DOJ obtained a legitimate search warrant. Where the hell were these people on January 6th when Trump and his followers tried to stop the legal transfer of power. These rightwing “talking heads” and writers are so adept at lying and manipulating the truth that if they are the only voices the MAGA followers hear, America in the next few years will be incapable of assessing its strengths and weaknesses, or distinguish between reality and illusion. America will be a facade.
Interestingly, the search at Mar-a-Lago was exactly on the same day of the Watergate break-in, 48 years ago, causing Trump to erroneously draw a parallel between his recalcitrance and the scandal that forced Nixon from office. The truth is that the FBI did not sneak into his residence, they obtained a search warrant from a judge, the Secret Service was notified and Trump’s lawyer was at the premises during the search. Lies and truths are now indistinguishable, worse, republican lawmakers know that this is standard procedure, yet they question the standard procedure that they made into law. The Watergate break-in was a crime, the “raid” at Mar-a-Lago was part of an investigation into an alleged crime.
Trump’s lawyer comparing the documents retrieved to “overdue library books,” indicates that he is either ignorant of government operations, especially top secret or SCI documents, or is purposely encouraging dissent and chaos. Fortunately, the country has a couple of prominent Trump loyalists who have decided to separate truth from lies. Constitutional attorney Alan Dershowitz, who defended Trump in his first impeachment hearings, argued that there was enough evidence to indict Trump, saying: “I can’t think of a legitimate reason why they could be taken out of the government … if they’re classified.” Former Attorney General, Bill Barr said: “If, in fact, Trump sort of stood over scores of boxes, not really knowing what was in them, and said, ‘I hereby declassify everything in here,’ that would be such an abuse. … It’s almost worse than taking the documents.”
Recently, President Biden acknowledged that Trump and MAGA republicans present a clear and present danger to America’s democracy and that what is happening in the country is not normal. The recent decision by Judge Aileen Cannon to appoint a special master to determine whether Trump had valid claims of executive privilege over some of the documents at Mar-a-Lago shows her total loyalty to Trump, the president who appointed her rather than to the laws of the country. The Justice Department had argued that a former president couldn’t assert executive privilege against the sitting president, but Cannon found that wasn’t settled law.
Biden assessment that MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution, do not believe in the rule of law, do not recognize the will of the people and refuse to accept the results of a free election is correct. Trump and other state republicans have reshaped the federal Judiciary, especially the appeals courts for the next few decades. In one term, Trump appointed 3 Supreme Court justices, more than a quarter of the current sitting federal judges, and they all have lifetime tenure. He also appointed 54 federal appellate judges flipping the court from a majority of Democratic appointees to a majority of Republican appointees, and these appellate judges have the final word on most legal appeals around the country.
Recent flooding in Jackson, Mississippi strained the city’s largest water treatment plant, leaving the system without water to fill pipes in homes, schools and businesses. On the surface, the cause of the crisis is damaged infrastructure, but on close examination one finds that the real issue is that the system serves a population that is 80 percent black, and that white flight drained the city of resources, also the state’s republican legislature refused to provide the majority-democrat black populated city with adequate funding for repairs. Racism is so deep that Republicans would allow the infrastructure of the state’s capitol to deteriorate because black people make up its majority
The chess board is set, Trump and republicans have set their pieces, the judiciary is in check-mate position, the next election will decide if the republicans have won. If they win, America will cease being a democracy and lose global leadership. Trump will be to America what Gorbachev was to the Soviet Union.