Too many Democrats are creepily suggesting Trump voters should be jailed
Trump voters beware: your ballot could get you jailed after January 20, 2021.
If Joe Biden wins the presidency, and takes the oath of office with one hand on Abraham Lincoln's Bible (hopefully not Das Kapital or Kendi's How to Be an Antiracist), open season may be declared on any American morally obtuse enough to believe that 45 deserved four more years.
"Trump must be defeated ... and his enablers, and his supporters ... must be prosecuted and convicted and removed from our society," ranted the always hot-blooded Keith Olbermann. The former MSNBC anchor traffics in caustic bombast, and this declaration was not very different from his usual huffy diatribes against Republicans. But the notion of revenge is going mainstream.
"The most humane and reasonable way to deal with all these [Trumpian] people ... is some kind of truth and reconciliation commission," tweeted MSNBC prime-time host Chris Hayes, a politic Martin compared to the Nelson-esque brashness of Olbermann. "When this nightmare is over, we need a [tr]uth and [r]econciliation [c]ommission," proposed former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. Elie Mystal of The Nation floated the same proposition.
The nod to South Africa's bureaucratic sob-story collectanea is too thoughtful by half: a white farmer in Senekal might beg to differ on the efficacy of his country's own guilt ministry if he hadn't been beaten and hanged by black assailants earlier this month.
Moreover, the concept of a formalized revenge-meting directorate, no doubt staffed by such intellectual heavyweights as Maxine Waters and Hank Johnson, is renascent, not new. Kevin Baker of The New Republic put forth the idea in the heated days of the Mueller investigation into potential Russian collusion. That was the spring of 2018. In Baker's telling, truth and reconciliation committees were the traditional means of normalizing a country after a strongman's rule or mass-killing pogrom: Pinochet in Chile, Argentina's Dirty War, the GDR, the Rwandan genocide.
None of those instances is remotely analogous to a duly elected president running an orthodox Republican administration while saying mean things on Twitter. Under Trump, the Constitution has remained intact. The country is fractious but not at the lip of fracturing. The president's own Justice Department has prosecuted and jailed his campaign aides. If Trump is a budding caudillo, he's the most hapless despot since Nicholas II.
As much as Democrats salivate over siccing a bunch of social-justice zampolits on unsuspecting MAGAites, talk of truth and reconciliation committees is just neatly phrased window dressing for the real goal: punishing anyone blinkered enough to vote for Donald Trump.
Don't believe it? Take the word of those with actual power. V.P. nominee Kamala Harris told NPR that the Justice Department "would have no choice" but to prosecute Trump once he leaves office. California representative and also-ran White House hopeful Eric Swalwell called for the creation of a "Presidential Crimes Commission." Lest you think Democratic voters have cooler heads than their elected avatars, ask any Obama-supporter what his greatest disappointment was. Not prosecuting Bush, Cheney, and the whole Middle East crusade crew will fall somewhere within the top three answers.
Don't count on old, go-along-get-along Joe to resist the vengeful inquisition, either. Occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is Biden's dying wish. We've already seen him drafted to the left within his own party. Any assurances of his staying the middle course and not tacking port-side should be taken with a fair amount of arrière-pensée. Snagging Biden's imprimatur for a Trump prosecutorial writ when he's distracted during afternoon reruns of Gunsmoke wouldn't be hard. Chances are, Biden will sign just about anything pushed across the Resolute Desk by his staff, from nuptial congratulations to a firing-squad approval for Steven Bannon.
Winning is not enough for the left. Leftists demand penalization for the opposition. In this respect, liberals appreciate the market's punishment mechanism: you choose the loser, and you accept the punishment.
Pro tip for calaboose-happy Democrats: If you plan on persecuting your political enemies, don't walk into the polling booth humming the plot. Fencing-sitting voters may find it repellent, despite the probity of your conviction.