Thursday, February 11, 2021
One of the hopes in the last US presidential election was that after Trump was gone, America could come back to facts and the truth instead of lies and delusion. That hope was dashed, with the only visible improvement being that the lies got better and the delusions a bit less obvious. So now America is caught in a collective delusion that ex-president Trump is on trial for incitement of insurrection. While even I, from a continent away, understand enough of the political and legal system of the USA to know that this isn't true.
First of all, the legal side. Incitement to insurrection is basically one of a few exceptions to first amendment free speech rights. As the US values the first amendment very highly, the bar set to actually make speech criminal is set extremely high. In the protests of 1968 that law was repeatedly tested, and although some of the protest leaders used inciting and violent language far stronger than Trump, they were found to be within their first amendment free speech rights.
Having said that, there is a clear causal chain from Trump inviting his supporters to come to Washington an January 6, him telling them to march on the Capitol, and the events that happened once they arrived. But that is a moral and political responsibility, not a legal one.
Which gets us to the next delusion, people believing that impeachment is some sort of legal procedure. It isn't. It's a political one. That is why the outcome will be decided by a vote, not by the judgement of a judge or jury. The process has some trappings of legal procedure, like lawyers arguing guilt or innocence, but in the end they don't really matter. Trump's lawyer could be Bozo the Clown, and he would still be acquitted. The whole impeachment is just for show, it only has political consequences. They couldn't possibly "lock him up" if they all agreed to do so. It isn't even clear that the Democrats actually want to have Trump impeached, because arguably a disqualification of Trump from running for office again helps the Republicans more than the Democrats.
The one thing you can rely on is that all politicians are dishonest. Anything you hear both Democrats and Republicans say about the impeachment is a lie. At the heart of it, Democrats are forcing Republicans into a loyalty check for their deposed leader. Which is a lose-lose situation for Republicans, who can either occur the wrath of their base, or be tainted by taking on part of the moral responsibility for the January 6 Capitol riots. Which is why Republicans are trying to weasel out of that choke-hold by claiming the whole procedure is unconstitutional.
The sad outlook is that US politics continue as they were in the previous 4 years: Both sides have very different versions of reality, both of them carefully crafted lies designed to create maximum outrage against the other side. January 6 showed us what the logical consequence of that is. Sooner or later all these permanently outraged people will start shooting.