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The future of American democracy

Updated: Jun 10

The failure to convict Trump in the months following the January 6th insurrection, coupled with the Republican Party's unwavering loyalty to him, has brought us to this critical juncture. This lack of foresight and partisan loyalty has put our nation's democracy in peril.

 

On May 30th, 2024, Donald J. Trump was convicted of 34 felonies in the State of New York. This historic trial was a major blow to the former President of the United States, who had claimed that the trial was rigged by President Joe Biden. However, the evidence presented during the trial showed that Trump had indeed committed multiple crimes, including paying $135,000 in hush money to Stormy Daniels, a porn star, to keep her quiet about their alleged affair.

 

The charges were brought by District Attorney Alvin Bragg, and many Republicans and media commentators have criticized the decision to bring the case to trial. However, 12 Manhattan jurors convicted Trump on 34 counts. Eleven charges for legal services; 11 charges for checks paid for legal services and 12 charges for legal expenses.

 

The sentencing hearing on July 11th is crucial for Americans and the world in order to see what kind of justice will be administered to Donald J. Trump.  Will he receive probation?  Will he be relegated to community service?  Or will he be jailed for his actions?  Jail may include weekends or a period of time behind bars.  This is an important moment in American History.  Will Judge Merchan administer justice as he would for an ordinary American? Or will he signal that Trump is indeed above the law as he believes he is?

 

Trump's behavior has worried many Americans. He is known for his dishonesty and lack of accountability, and his conviction on multiple counts of fraud and other crimes is a major blow to his reputation. Most disturbing are his comments about wanting to be a dictator on Day One if re-elected.

 

The failure to convict Trump during his impeachment trial in 2021 has also contributed to the current crisis. Many Republicans have refused to hold Trump accountable for his actions, and instead have continued to support him despite his numerous scandals. This lack of accountability has allowed Trump to continue to act with impunity.

 

In North Carolina, the upcoming election has brought the very essence of democracy into sharp focus. The state's gubernatorial race is currently locked in a virtual tie between Trump supporter Mark Robinson, a Republican, and Democrat Mark Stein. This closely contested contest mirrors the national political landscape: Republicans are bolstered by a majority on N.C. Supreme Court and by a majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

The United States has reached a precarious state, with roots dating back to the early 1990s and Newt Gingrich's Contract for America. Fast forward to 2021, when the Senate acquitted Trump of charges related to inciting an insurrection that resulted in the deaths of five people, including two law enforcement officers. The Republican-led Senate, under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's leadership, had demonstrated its hypocrisy by blocking President Obama's Supreme Court nominee,  Merrick Garland, from a hearing. This stark contrast is evident in McConnell's swift approval of subsequent Supreme Court nominees, which gave the Court a conservative majority of 6-3.

 

On July 11th when Trump is scheduled for sentencing, democracy will be on trial and the world will be watching.  Remember,  Judge Arthur Engoron has already found Trump is liable for fraud in the civil case, where Trump was fined close to a half billion dollars for sexual misconduct and for taunting the plaintiff.

 

If Trump is re-elected in 2024 and is allowed to remain in office without facing any consequences for his actions, it could have disastrous consequences for American democracy. Trump has already shown that he is willing to use his power to undermine democratic institutions and silence his critics, and if he is allowed to continue in office without accountability, it could lead to a complete erosion of democratic values.

 

In conclusion, Judge Juan Merchan has a critical role to play in ensuring that justice is served in this case. A jail sentence may be necessary to send a strong message that no one is above the law, regardless of position or power. The future of American democracy depends on it.

 

Virgil L. Smith formerly served as president and publisher of the Asheville Citizen-Times and Vice President for Human Resources for the Gannett Company. He is the principal for the Smith Edwards Group and the author of "The Keys to Effective Leadership.” He is the founder and a writer for Carolina Commentary.



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