“Lock them up” is a rallying cry Donald Trump uses to campaign against his political opponents. Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and others must go to jail, with this demand Trump became the leader of America’s right. It’s a phrase that got stuck because it expressed the anger of millions of Americans against the elites. But now it’s Trump who could be jailed, or at least face arrest, criminal prosecution and a guilty verdict.
The indictment by a grand jury in New York, which became known on Thursday, damages him as a person and as a politician. At the same time, it uses his mission: his war against US democracy.
Actually, an anti-democrat like Trump, who calls for violence and feeds lies, should never sit in the White House again anyway. The good news is, it probably won’t either. According to the US constitution, he can even be a candidate and president as a criminal. But little indicates that he will make it to the highest office again. He’s a multiple election loser and has never learned from his mistakes.
The ongoing charges will not bring him any additional sympathy, but will maximally increase the support of his most loyal fans. But moderates and independents who decide by majorities are guaranteed not to be won over by a hundred hate speeches against a “witch hunt” and an election campaign from the courtroom.
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First and foremost, the process is a blow to Trump – also financially, because the process will tie up many of his campaign’s resources.
For the moment, however, his party, the Republicans, is rallying around him. And this is exactly where Trump proves again that you should never underestimate him. A brief arrest will not make him disappear from the political scene.
And that he actually goes to prison is far from certain. Leading Republicans have actually wanted to break away from Trump for a long time since he stopped giving them electoral successes. They are ashamed of him and fear for their power in the country, they finally want to be able to win a majority again. But now it’s taking its toll that the Republicans didn’t part ways with Trump sooner.
US politics caught in an endless loop
That should have happened at the latest after he instigated the storming of the Capitol. Instead, many Republican spokesmen waited for their Trump problem to resolve itself for fear of alienating his supporters. They secretly hoped that Trump would run out of steam as a presidential candidate, that his most loyal grassroots supporters would turn away from him, that other candidates would be stronger.
None of that has happened yet, Trump is still the most popular politician among the Republican base. And as has been the case for years, the Republicans are again showing no stance even after the indictment became known, and are instead half-heartedly supporting a man who has made their party unelectable for large parts of the USA.
Trump not only proves his gigantic influence on the Republicans, but on American society as a whole. US politics seems caught in an endless loop, and the criminal trial shows the division in the US that was already visible after Trump’s 2016 election victory, after both impeachments and after the attack on the Capitol.
It becomes clear: You can’t get past him, it’s impossible to ignore him, all attention revolves around him – with absurd excesses: US media speculate in all seriousness about whether Trump will be handcuffed in front of his stomach or on his back becomes.
However, the wealth of details that will become public in the coming weeks about the process must not distract from one crucial fact. Donald Trump is the most dangerous thing that could have happened to modern US democracy. Not necessarily because of his political positions: some of these, like the anti-China stance and protectionism, are now mainstream and were continued by Joe Biden. But his conspiracy theories of a stolen election and his general suspicion against the state and the judiciary, this poison works even more when Trump can play the victim role in front of his fans.
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