Georgia is now the fourth different venue that former President Donald J. Trump has been indicted. This case appears to be wholly unique, though, in that the 41 count indictment also alleges felonious activity amongst members of Trump’s legal team, an elected State Senator, and the former GAGOP chairman. Most notably, every single defendant listed is charged with violation of Georgia’s RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act.
Normally, I’d have a lot of snark to lay out for people to read. In this case, not so much. This is a sober reminder of the perilous times of our Republic. Reading through this indictment, I have to make note that I have not passed the bar exam — so, any legal judgments I make are just conjecture. I’m sure there will be plenty of legal expertise thrown out by our good friend and my BFF the Honorable Yale Educated Senator from the 14th (alright, just that snark…) and plenty others like our resident attorney Jason Shepherd.
However, I can’t but help read through this with a tremendous amount of disappointment. There is a real risk for a good number of people that disappointment becomes cynicism, and subsequently becomes a full loss of faith in our republican form of government. We’re already teetering on the precipice. Will this indictment push us over the edge? Very doubtful, but it most certainly doesn’t pull us away.
We read of the elimination of the Roman Republic when Octavian defeated Marc Antony and Cleopatra at Actium. From there, their days were numbered until Antony died in Cleopatra’s arms saying “The miserable change now at my end lament nor sorrow at; but please your thoughts in feeding them with those my former fortunes wherein I lived, the greatest prince o’ the world, the noblest…” (…according to Shakespeare, anyway…)
Or maybe the republic withered during the days of Octavian’s adoptive father Caesar, in which he eschewed typical political norms and the cultural suspicion of power. Forty years before his assassination, the civil war between Sulla and Marius saw a bloody rampage by both men that lead to the death of hundreds of nobles as “enemies of the state” during proscriptions. This left a scar that didn’t ever heal. Just maybe it can be argued that the demise began about fifty years before that with the assassination of Gracchus over his forced land reforms as tribune, or even his unprecedented desire to seek the tribunate a second consecutive time.
Look, none of these things singularly destroyed the Roman Republic, just like this indictment will not singularly destroy the American Republic. However, it sure as hell doesn’t help. The commonality between all of those failures in the Roman Republic shares commonalities with our time now.
A systemic and cultural loss of faith in what made Rome special is the same loss of faith we have now.
Anyone that tells you this indictment “restores” faith is either delusion or lying. As the gents have pointed out on the podcast, it sure didn’t take two years to indict on these charges if Fani Willis was concerned purely about justice. The indictment comes at an (in)opportune moment right before the presidential primaries, and it’s hard to believe that four separate criminal cases won’t be part of any general election strategy.
However, we wouldn’t have come to this if someone hadn’t belligerently declared an election “rigged” and aggressively failed to prove it in court. Maybe we wouldn’t be here if a then future president didn’t refer to some Americans as “bitter” for trying to make sense of a rapidly changing world that destroyed their way of life by stating they cling to guns, bibles, and blame immigrants.
Faith in your fellow countrymen and countrywomen is non-negotiable if you want the Republic to survive. We don’t always have to like each other, but we better damn well respect one another. If you’re celebrating tonight’s indictment, you’re part of the problem. If you believe it’s an unjustified “witch hunt,” then you too are part of the problem. If you’ve celebrated someone’s death, condemned a woman that chose abortion, called someone “racist” because they disagreed with you on policy, or look down on people that choose a different path than you – then you’re the problem. Point blank. You – are – the – problem.
I love America, but mainly because I love my fellow Americans. If this indictment reminds you to do more of that, than maybe some good will come of it. Otherwise, we may very well see our own Actium sooner rather than later.