The war in Ukraine over — with one summit. America’s intractable divisions over abortion replaced with national consensus. All the policy differences and cultural clashes that the country reels in could be gone, but only if Donald Trump is president again.
A wave of Trump’s secret wand — with its unique powers of persuasion — will pacify the people and restore the specialness of our democracy. But only after he is the sitting president can the magic occur; he can’t explain how he would do all he guarantees, for that is the essence of magic — the mystery of it all.
Those pesky prosecutions (and primaries) be damned.
Donald Trump also boasts of being a political demigod, suppressed by evildoers. He levitates by pushing off on others as the cause of any problem or inconvenience. Most recently, Trump specifically blamed former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the Jan. 6 rioting and violence at the Capitol. Aside from the statement’s vulgar untruthfulness, it is the predictable utterance of a person who fears nothing when it comes to verbally assaulting someone, using falsity as a weapon. One does not have to like Nancy Pelosi, or be a Democrat, to instantly understand that Trump’s statement is a cynical, calculated cannonball fired at will for no reason other than he can.
An individual facing four indictments in different jurisdictions alleging serious criminal misconduct should never, ever, be a viable candidate for any office. That possibly tens of millions of people can’t acknowledge that Trump is a divisive and destructive force who exploits chaos is an indictment of the collective us, of our widespread incompetence in seeing the trickery that masquerades as the miraculous for what it is.
The populism that has overtaken the country’s extremities has not occurred under a blanket accompanied by any shame. It’s out in the open, lit with the promise of an instant and forever tan. That the light is actually radiation isn’t part of the preferred narrative. The court cases can adjudicate the defendant as an individual, but what will break the sorcerer’s spell cast far beyond the justice system?
The magical fraudster fights back with what he knows — more fraud. But fraud (like magic) takes at least two to sustain itself over time. The mark, once she has the accurate information available or hears the swindler’s musings become so outlandish as to be patently absurd, has to pivot with the new knowledge. When that fails to occur, the ownership of deceit is shared because it’s the erstwhile victim who chooses to remain a part of the ruse. The made-up mumbo jumbo multiples with perverse generosity.
Institutions are not failing us; we are failing ourselves. The current national gullibility for magical remedies for invisible maladies should be beyond embarrassing, given its generational damage to our children and grandchildren. The institutional integrity of democracy is far more important than marginal tax rates or regulatory reform. For those who in the past have disregarded the lies as the scams politicians play on one another, your reckoning is approaching. Please act on it.
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It is time to snuff out this insidious pall over ourselves. The way to do so is to register to vote (and then vote) in unprecedented numbers in elections at all levels — local, state and national.
The best and only way to preserve democracy as we know it is to simply outvote — by a wide margin — any party or candidate for any office who rejects the basic principle that neutral elections must be acknowledged and respected by both the winners and losers.
In the short term, give up on those who can’t or won’t evaluate the objective, publicly available facts of a candidate’s utter indifference to truth, any version or shade of it. The country has reached the point where civic engagement with argument and reason have failed.
The system isn’t broken, but we may be if we don’t stop pandering to nonsense. When it takes ignoring the obvious to continue supporting a person or a cause, then it’s time to stop, even if it’s for a moment. During that moment, like the eye of a storm, the possibility exists to see clearly and act before the back side hits.
Michael McAuliffe is a former federal prosecutor. He also served as the elected state attorney for Palm Beach County. Currently, he is a practicing lawyer, an adjunct professor at the College of William & Mary’s Law School and a senior lecturing fellow at Duke University’s School of Law. He is the author of the novel “No Truth Left To Tell.”