It is critical to see what impunity is.
It is sometimes hard for us to recognize problems in our own society that we can readily identify abroad. International human rights and anti-corruption reformers talk about “cultures of impunity” in Third World countries where murder, the looting of economic resources, and other crimes by the powerful regularly go unpunished. The police, high government officials, and their cronies in the private sector not only abuse their power; they do so knowing that they will never be held to account and that their victims know that, too. In such situations, establishing the rule of law involves far more than instituting formal legal procedures. It requires transforming everyday expectations about equality and demonstrating in practice that the powerful can and will be brought to justice. (Bolded by me for emphasis)
One of the themes running through our own recent history is that cultures of impunity are also an American problem. Crimes in the financial and corporate worlds with devastating economic repercussions have been met with slaps on the wrist. The police have not been held to account for unjustified killings in minority communities. From churches and the military to college campuses, sexual assault has long been hushed up. Often it’s not just the original crimes but the cover-ups that raise questions about the institutions and implicate their leadership.
I grew up in such a nation. The Mexico of my youth was a country where we all knew. If you were well connected and had money, you could get away with anything. It’s gotten far worse, why what happened today in the Senate was not alien, or strange. The Senate let one of the most powerful men in our nation walk away. Yes, it was bipartisan, and yes, it was a large majority that voted to convict, but under the rules of the Senate, we did not see 67 men and women who would put their nation ahead of their party. There is more, they have affirmed that this party still belongs to Donald Trump. You don’t believe me, just read the statement I posted as a picture. The lesson Trump learned is that he literally can do whatever he wants, and he will walk away.
This culture of impunity is relatively new, or rather this obvious, in the United States. It also goes against the stories we like to tell ourselves. We are exceptional, and this is what happens in banana republics. Never mind that the former president is a textbook example of it. Throughout his life, Trump has been able to avoid serious consequences in the courts. He has mostly been able to go through life by paying lawyers and settling when there was no way out in civil cases. A good recent example is Trump University.
What happened in the Senate was another example of absolute impunity. He has gotten away with this over the course of his lifetime, because in the United States, Just like Mexico, connections, money, and who you know matters. Though in the United States it is not as obvious as this is in Mexico.
Let’s just say that in Mexico we would not even have a trial in the Senate. And at this point, I do hope the justice system will finally bring him to account. There are cases building, both civil and criminal. For example this one in Georgia. So perhaps his luck is going to run out. That said. The same people who work the base, are already asking him for help to retake the House and Senate.
Incidentally, Senator Lindsey Graham is already under the threat of the criminal system in Georgia as well. This has to do with his role after the election was certified in the state of Georgia. This started as an investigation into Trump’s role in this, and a Grand Jury is expected to be seated by March.
Yes, Trump did get away with this in the Senate. While a strong majority voted to indict, there were not enough Republicans to convict. The Senate needed a super-majority. The way out, the escape hatch. Was the question of whether this was Constitutional. To be clear, the Party of Law and Order voted to acquit the former president, with the exception of seven Republicans with both a backbone and a measure of personal ethics. This is not about law or order when it comes to the former president. They fear him, and at this point, they fear the base as well. This is a radicalized group of people who are celebrating this and feeling emboldened.
The party of law and order like impunity for their own. This is a classic of authoritarian states. I remember this from growing up in Mexico. You knew very well that the sons and rarely daughters, of people of means, rarely faced the music. All it took was a mordida. They greased the skids by bribing the proper officials, or if needed witnesses.
Trump has done this all his life. Not the bribes, but the knowing the right people to get away with things. This is driving a sense of what is the use from many people, who once again saw Trump get away with it.
In Mexico sometimes somebody not well connected, or even with no relation to the case took the fall and went to prison. Of course, unstated was that the family was to be taken care of. Sometimes that happened, most of the time it was not. In a strange parallel in the impunity of Donald Trump, the people who assaulted the Hill are going to face the music. Some may go to prison for a long time. Does Trump care? Will Trump pay for the legal fees, as he boasted in 2016? Of course not. They were thrown under the literal bus and they will face the music. In the defense case, they were portrayed as hooligans, and they had no ties to Trump. This is a classic of a culture of impunity.
This is not new, just not this blatant. Places in the Deep South during the Jim Crow era were classics of this culture, especially when it came to the treatment of blacks. This impunity included murders, in the form of lynchings. People who carried them out rarely faced any form of justice, and socially they earned points for carrying them out.
The party of Law and Order fears this radicalized base, that still grows within the party even as it continues to diminish in size. This is a base that is increasingly openly racist, anti-Semitic, and provincial. As I argued in another piece, this is the John Birch Society reborn. The program is back, and that even includes some of the languages.
Within this base, there is a tendency towards impunity. In this case, it is not just having money and friends in high places, though that helps. It’s also about who you pray to, and the color of your skin. We should not normalize it any longer.
The Defense Team
What the defense presented was not just a defense of Trump, on the merits. That never happened. It was making him a victim. It was a good exercise in snowing over the facts. They presented the theory that this disenfranchised Trump voters. This is precisely because Trump was trying to disenfranchise people of color, who live in urban cores. This is part of the white supremacy we are victims story. Whites (male and Christian) are the only ones who should vote. Black and brown people should not. As I write, states are once again trying to limit the votes of people they don’t want to vote.
They also told us that this was a “constitutional cancel culture.” In the broader persecution complex of the far right, the left will end up putting them in concentration camps. This is, after all, white genocide. Never mind that the right has been using the classification elimination language for decades. The defense of the former president was built on grievance politics and white identity politics. This is why his base responded so well to it in places like 4Chan.
This was not the best team in legal history either. The only reason they got their client out of this one, is that culture of impunity. The party of law and order cannot truly make one of their own face the music. Because if they did, they would have to admit to their role in any of this. And some were truly deeply in it.
If this was a Democrat, you can be sure that Republicans would vote to convict. And perhaps I am giving Democrats more credit than I should. I think more Democrats would put the country over the party if the shoe was reversed.
A Persecution Complex With the Right
This piece has to go into the far right persecution complex. We see it every time somebody loses a job for saying things that are on the face of it, abhorrent. The most recent example is Gina Carano (who full disclosure I had to research, I had no idea who this person is. Also she violated the code of ethics of Disney, and was warned repeatedly before she was finally fired.)
She used her social media, Instagram to be specific, to compare what is happening to conservatives, to what happened to Jews before the Holocaust. This is a theme with many on the far-right. They feel that their views (I guess cheering for the ethnostate should be ok, or advocating for the killing of Jews), are not acceptable in the wider society. They also feel that their opinions on COVID are as valid as those of virologists.
They feel they are rejected by general society. Carano compared this to the early stages of the Holocaust. However, in the radical right spaces, while they reject the reality of the Holocaust (and some would like to repeat it), they claim the left wants to send them to reeducation camps. Incidentally, the talk of camps and even death camps is growing in these spaces. And to be brutally honest, they are the ones engaged in the classification that precedes genocides. Apparently rejecting these radical views is the same kind of classification that leads to genocides. Remember, they are convinced we have a white genocide underway, as well as an attack on family values and core Christian views.
She also posted a few QAnon specific hashtags, such as #Savethechildren. This is important. The people in places like 4Chan wrote that she would get red-pilled for sure. She already has been. The company fired her because of their image. And what came after that, were calls from these spaces to cancel Disney. These people not ironic in the least. Nor can they see how much complaining of something while actually doing it, is funny as can be. It is also dangerous.
This is a contemporaneous post at 4Chan that reflects this general attitude. It speaks to the former president and his treatment by the establishment.
Nobody has actually followed the debate, or the underlying agenda of it.
>it is insurrection
>it is factually insurrection
>the insurrection is a fact
>factual the insurrection was
>there is no doubt it was an insurrection
>it is undeniable that it was indeed an insurrection
>what part of “insurrection” do you not understand
Where does this lead?
>oh, so you are protecting an insurrection, therefore you are insurrectionist
>who the fuck says it was an insurrection
>I say so, so it is
>proceeds to mass censor and remove as many republicans as possible through big tech
>writes new red flag laws to disarm and swat-kill anybody even just having an american flag sticker or a textless red hat
>institute an US Stasi encouraging brainwashed kids to stooge anybody that looks or does anything shady by CCP standards
This is not uncommon and that is precisely what she was complaining about.
This is why the defense spoke of cancel culture. It is essential to the mythology that circulates with the real base of the Republican Party, a radicalized base. This is exactly why they use the phrase, constitutional cancel culture. It just takes it to the next level in the persecution complex.
I also need to clarify, moderate center-right Republicans generally speaking are looking for ways to make lower taxes, business-friendly policies, acceptable. This is the normal debate of American politics. This is why we need Republicans to take back their party from the mob. This is why the trial mattered since it offered them a chance to make a cold break from it. Now they will have to deal with Trump for at least one more political cycle. I suspect he will start to fade as the legal system comes after him, as they already are starting to.
Going full circle, Trump seems to be above the law, because he is white, well connected, and gosh darn it, this should not happen to him. This is a textbook example of this culture. We’d better recognize this for what it is. Because just as other aspects of the far-right, impunity comes with authoritarian states.