From the Left: Where will Trump verdict lead us?

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By Lance Simmens
 
Fifty years ago, I spent an entire summer recuperating from a serious accident that provided me with the unique opportunity to occupy my days watching history unfold in the form of the Watergate Senate hearings.

The fact that I was preoccupied with what would turn out to be the downfall of then President Richard Nixon and a bipartisan refutation of the political chicanery and criminal enterprise that enveloped the highest level of political leaders in our government would prove to shape my lifelong dedication to public service. But this singular benefit of wrongdoing left its mark on my desire to be ever cognizant to follow in the lead of those whose leadership was dedicated to rooting out corruption, exposing it, and ensuring that there was appropriate accountability. And it is this very dilemma that will unfold over the next few months leading up to the November Presidential Election, namely to what extent will accountability for the 34 felony counts former President Trump has been found guilty of be exacted, or will special treatment make a mockery of the often expressed maxim that no person is above the law?
 
Now, a half-century after Watergate and the subsequent pardon of Nixon, history has unfolded before our eyes once again as the much-maligned system of jurisprudence has shone brightly upon criminal activity by a former president and likely future presidential candidate of the United States, Donald Trump. Will he escape what could be considered adequate accountability, or even get a pardon? This time around public accountability is being led by 12 regular jurors selected to listen to the facts and evidence and weigh activity that meets the highest standard in the judicial firmament, namely, certainty that the presentations render guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
 
To those who have been paying regular attention to the Trump trial, the extent to which the New York State judge gingerly handled activity that would have sent nearly any defendant on the planet to prison, and imposed minimal fines that cited violation of at least 10 tenets of a gag order meant to discourage threats and intimidation of court officers, witnesses, and the jury pool, showed a level of restraint that was both maddeningly frustrating and beyond any degree of fairness, in my humble estimation. But Judge Marchan must be applauded for his cool, calm, and effective demeanor in a highly charged environment laden with verbal outbursts and political shenanigans led by the former president shielded by Secret Service protection.

Trump has consistently utilized a martyr complex throughout the ordeal that has placed him in the sights of four violations of various state and federal laws. Of course, he also has the benefit of appeals, which he has used vigorously over the past several years in an unbelievable stalling strategy that has employed the tactics of “delay, delay, delay.” If anyone has benefitted heavily from such stall tactics, it is surely Mr. Trump, who now wears the distinction of a convicted felon. But would virtually anyone convicted of such transgressions be allowed to manipulate the system? I doubt it. Justice delayed all too often results in justice denied!
 
Recent polling by CBS News/You Gov shows that 54 percent of Independents say Trump received a fair trial; overall, 56 percent of U.S. adults say he got a fair trial; 57 percent of U.S. adults say the jury reached the right verdict. Surprisingly, seven in 10 voters feel it is important that verdicts are reached in the remaining open cases before the November election, according to a Morning Consult poll.
 
While there is little mystery upon my desire to have Trump appear before the remaining trials in advance of Election Day, I am resigned to the fact that it is not only unlikely but virtually impossible at this point. And while I am also pleased with the unanimous verdict of the New York court, there is no need for celebration. I was almost certain that the result of the trial was going to be a hung jury. The unanimity of the verdict reaches far beyond a win or loss; more importantly, it reflects upon the power of our judicial system at a time when the authoritarian-led opposition to institutional norms and structures places a high premium upon dysfunction and chaos.

The recent court case, rather than being rubbed in the opposition’s eyes, should elicit a degree of hope that our democratic government can and will lead the way to rejection of the negativity and special privilege that is all too common in our divided nation. The current activity pitting Republican puppets lining up in opposition to our legal system, our governmental system, the so-called “deep administrative state,” and in general those who project positivity for those who need protection in our society, does not reflect the greater population as a whole. In fact our system of incrementalism, a democratic necessity, has shown in the New York decision a positive outlook that public accountability and adherence and thoughtful deliberation based upon the key precepts that on one is above the law can guide us through the dark spaces that pit us against one another.
 
We should celebrate the notion that in the most dangerous hours that may lie ahead, we need to dedicate ourselves to ensuring that adherence to our preternatural instincts demands careful deliberation and an open mind to facts, not fiction. This is the true essence of democratic justice.