OpinionU.S. News

Nothing super about Tuesday

Each day brings us closer to an election that isn’t generating much excitement.

A U.S. citizen by a ballot box. Credit: Pressmaster/Shutterstock.
A U.S. citizen by a ballot box. Credit: Pressmaster/Shutterstock.
Thane Rosenbaum. Credit: Courtesy.
Thane Rosenbaum
Thane Rosenbaum is a novelist, essayist, law professor and Distinguished University Professor at Touro University, where he directs the Forum on Life, Culture & Society. His most recent book is “Saving Free Speech ... From Itself.”

With the NFL football season over and the Kansas City Chiefs crowned champions (and Taylor Swift anointed the People’s Princess), March Madness not yet begun and the Oscars still a week away, Americans can be forgiven binge-watching the sideshow that is the country’s evolving presidential race.

Must-see, albeit a bit boring, TV includes charges of espionage, racketeering, lying to the American public, campaign finance violations, obstruction of justice and official meetings, disqualification from ballots and prosecutions, civil fraud and defamation, not to mention congressional hearings on a possible impeachment.

None of this involves public policy or serves the public good. A bill of particulars has replaced political platforms.

That’s because the election itself is not the main attraction—not these days. Super Tuesday feels more like a coronation than a mere multi-state primary. For a nation with 333 million people and boasting the world’s longest continuous democracy, there’s nothing super about our political process.

There are still only two parties, which behave more like implacable enemies than ideological rivals. Bipartisanship is now the art of playing politics divorced from statesmanship. The North and South Poles are considerably less polarized than a fractious America.

Each party’s respective nominee is already a foregone conclusion. There are no serious primary challengers. Instead, we are left with two terribly flawed candidates: an incumbent octogenarian who proves his fitness by managing to keep the top scoop on an ice-cream cone from falling as often as he does; and a former president, also near 80, who is reckless, impulsive and crass, and yet bizarrely beloved, for these very character flaws, by his base of supporters.

Each day brings us closer to an election that isn’t generating much excitement. The lack of palace intrigue in who might occupy the Oval Office in January 2025 is better directed at courtrooms than ballot boxes.

Although still early, it appears that Donald Trump is the front runner—leading in the polls and accumulating the larger legal bills, even if Hunter Biden and Trump’s oldest sons are thrown into the legal morass. The Democratic Party and the mainstream press have done everything in their power to elevate Trump as a candidate of conviction—the kind that can land a former president behind bars. Cases are scattered in New York, Florida, Georgia and Washington, D.C. Democratic District Attorneys, one state Attorney General and the Biden Justice Department brought multiple criminal prosecutions and civil actions, all at the same time, and coinciding with the presidential campaign.

Add to that two civil defamation cases and ballot disqualifications in Colorado, Maine and Illinois, and you have a merry-go-round for Democratic strategists that’s turned into a funhouse for Trump. His legal troubles proved to be marvelous fundraising opportunities—attracting not Wall Street fat cats but ordinary red-state Republicans, a GoFundMe for a populist billionaire.

Democrats miscalculated. Trump doesn’t fear lawsuits; he’s responsible for $112,000 in interest charges each day on the civil fraud judgment, and he’s never looked happier. What frightens him are sparsely attended political rallies. As long as the crowds are large and adoring, he’ll gladly pay for the privilege of presenting himself as a Beltway martyr, target of hatchet jobs and miscarriages of justice. Far from bankrupting him or derailing his campaign, these various legal actions have energized him. And it ensured that his base would perceive these prosecutions as persecutions—a nationwide gag order that silenced the leading contender in the race.

Meanwhile, those in the business of actually upholding the law allowed a border crisis to go unaddressed and crime sprees to spiral. When a nation’s justice system seems fixated on a political candidate—and indifferent about policing city streets, local businesses and border crossings—the rule of law loses its public legitimacy.

No American, no less a former president running for re-election, has ever faced such a barrage of legal exposure so close to Election Day.

You don’t have to love Trump, loathe the deep state, imbibe conspiracy theories or invoke the word “witch-hunt” to wonder: If Donald Trump had left the White House, retired as a private citizen to play golf in Florida—even if he invited an occasional neo-Nazi to dine at Mar-a-Lago—and expressed no further interest in public life, would any of these cases have been brought?

Would the National Archives have even demanded the return of those classified documents, or would the Presidential Records Act have settled the matter? No midnight raid, Mar-a-Lago left undisturbed, like the classified company U.S. President Joe Biden’s Corvette kept.

If charges had never been filed and indictments were instead redirected toward violent criminals, then the prosecutorial discretion government lawyers claim to possess now, in pursuing Trump with Javert-like fury, would be exposed as hypocritical indiscretion.

Call it whatever you like (Trump’s words of choice are “weaponization” and “election interference”), but it’s not a good look. And it’s unbecoming of a nation dedicated to fundamental fairness and the rule of law. As a sign of just deserts, some of the cases are starting to fall apart, or may never reach trial before the election.

That doesn’t mean that Trump couldn’t be found guilty or that he is not guilty. But the legal theories being applied against him are novel, untested and somewhat of a stretch, which might betray their political rather than legal motivations.

Because with all the courtroom theater and public distraction that the cases have wrought, neither candidate is running on his record: Biden’s appeal is that he is not Trump; Trump’s popularity is owing to Biden’s failures: an absence of American muscle in foreign policy, a withering spine on Israel, a strong feeling that DEI should be DOA, and a fear of Venezuelan gangs, Black Lives Matter looters and run-amuck pro-Hamas demonstrators—each of whom wear their anti-Americanism proudly like a Biden campaign button.

Meanwhile, no single Jan. 6 rioter escaped criminal punishment, a fact not lost on any MAGA voter.

Biden may go down in history as the patron saint of quality-of-life crimes and enabler of anti-American animus. Worse still, he may have recklessly exposed the nation to a new wave of terrorism—all the while reassuring that the border was secure and insisting, to the delight of progressives, that America’s most pressing problem was white supremacy.

Biden conveniently gave Trump a platform to run on, while he teetered and steadied himself not to topple from his.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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