Pardon Him or Not


  • Jonathan Rauch wrote “a second Trump term could bring about the extinction of American democracy.”
  • Thus, the first priority of those who hope to preserve our liberal democracy is to politically nullify Trump.
  • “The Resolution to Preserve America’s Democracy” seems like our least “bad” option.

Donald Trump is the corporealization of a pernicious virus which is eating its way through America’s 2.5 century experiment in representative democracy. 

As Jonathan Rauch warned in The Atlantic “a second Trump term could bring about the extinction of American democracy.” 

Trump’s illiberal proclivities has resulted in several ongoing investigations into his Presidential and post-Presidential activities but none of have yet to move into the courtroom. US Attorney General Merrick Garland must now decide “Should Trump be indicted?” 

Should Trump be indicted?

The anti-indictment argument offered by Damon Linker is that violent social unrest will occur if Trump is indicted and again should he be convicted. While Mr. Linker acknowledges that there will be social unrest should Trump loose at the ballot box, he contends (without evidence) that it will be less severe than will occur in the trial route.  He is also concerned that there is no guarantee that Trump will be convicted and an acquittal will provide Trump with the political capital to propel Trump back into the White House. Finally, he is concerned that a dangerous precedent will have been set of “political retribution” if a victorious political Presidential candidate’s administration (Biden’s) prosecutes and imprisons their former and (potentially) future political adversary.

Unfortunately, Mr. Linker side steps the issue that all Americans are equal in the eyes of the criminal justice system. By arguing “A public trial … is what justice demands …  The same can be said for the ideal of upholding equality under the law. If it were realistically possible to achieve these goals, I would fully support the drive to prosecute Donald Trump. But of course, it isn’t realistically achievable.” Thus, Mr. Linker concludes Trump is a political problem that is best dealt with at the ballot box.

The pro-indictment argument made by Jed Shugerman and Alan Z. Rozenshtein, is that indicting Trump would “signal to the American public that the criminal justice system is willing and able to act evenhandedly, even to the point of holding accountable someone who was previously the most important person in the country.” As to the exacerbation of “social unrest,” they contend that it is impossible to “predict the second-order consequences of indicting Donald Trump.” They also dismiss concerns about the “political retribution” issue as not relevant as a DOJ indictment for the January 6th attempted coup will be largely based on data obtained by the bipartisan House Committee and thus a DOJ indictment will not be perceived as political. 

Their dismissal of the “political retribution” issue is disingenuous as nearly all Republican politicians have already criticized the bipartisan House of Representatives investigation into the January 6 attempted coup as being a politically motivated witch hunt.

Of course, an indictment of Trump will be litigated for years or decades and this delay in justice delivered will allow Trump to again run for the Presidency and/or continue to control the MAGA Republicans, thus perpetuating his authoritarian influence over America’s democracy.

So how should Americans who believe in a representative democracy deal with a narcissistic, illiberal politician who could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and still be the preferred President candidate of 40% of Americans? We must think out-of-the-box.

I Have An Idea

Trump has shown that he has no interest in anything other than his own financial aggrandizement. He has no political philosophy or agenda. He simply used the Presidency as a means to financially enrich himself and his family.

Recognizing this is a fundamental personality trait, I believe the US government should offer Trump “a deal” which will allow him to keep what is most important to him – his financial empire and lifestyle and avoid indictment on the condition that he permanently remove himself from the political scene. Should he agree to the conditions of the deal, he can live out his life in luxury at Mar-a-Lago Club and say “I won.” If he does not agree, then DOJ will promptly proceed with his indictment and Trump would risk imprisonment, humiliation, financial ruin, and the loss of everything important to him.

The Resolution to Preserve America’s Democracy, Part I and Part II

I think Congress should enact “The Resolution to Preserve America’s Democracy.” Part I of “The Resolution to Preserve America’s Democracy” will remove Trump from the political scene while facilitating the prosecution of his co-conspirators and Part II will effect changes in Federal law that will reduce the probability that an illiberal authoritarian will ever again take control of our Government.

In Part I of The Resolution, the US Government and DOJ promise not to indict Donald Trump for all Federal crimes of treason, sedition, espionage, theft of government property, and conspiracy in an attempted coup and for as long as Trump abides by the following restrictions on his activities;

    • abstain from all political activity and rallies
    • refrain from interaction with social media, TV, radio and print media
    • make no political endorsements or donations
    • never run for any public or political office
    • refrain from offering political commentary and advice
    • withdraw from attempting to influence the American public
    • remain on Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida at all times 
    • relinquish his passport
    • forgo the right to vote
    • desist from impugning the integrity of any US election
    • proactively assist (e.g testimony, documents) in all legal investigation

As I am not a lawyer, I will defer to those more knowledgable about Federal law, the political process, and American history to define which Federal statutes and “restrictions on his activities” should be included in Part I of The Resolution.

Also included in Part I of The Resolution must be a clause that specifies “If the Courts void any section of Part I then the entirety of Part I is void while Part II of The Resolution will remain enacted.”

In Part II of “The Resolution to Preserve America’s Democracy,” Congress will legally codify the recommendations of various expert commissions which address the ambiguities and deficiencies that were left by our Founding Fathers, including proposed reforms for the Supreme Court, where permissible promote/enact ranked choice voting, and implement necessary legal strictures, where possible, to ensure that politicians cannot ignore “historic norms of political behavior.”

After the House and the Senate pass “The Resolution to Preserve America’s Democracy,” President Biden would sign it into law.

Hopefully, the voluntary and conciliatory nature of The Resolution will be sufficient to mollify enough MAGA Republicans to prevent or mitigate any violence that might otherwise occur if Trump were indicted and convicted.

Our Least “Bad” Option

Unfortunately, I do not believe there is a “good” solution to Donald Trump. We only have “bad” and “worse” options. I believe that sacrificing our sacrosanct principle that “every citizen is treated equally in the eyes of the law,” for this one former President, is a price America should be willing to pay in order to increase the probability that our kids, grandkids, and great grandkids will continue to live in a representative democracy. 

“The Resolution to Preserve America’s Democracy” seems like our least “bad” option.

Hayward Zwerling

4 September 2022

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