Much is being made pro and con of Trump’s threat to Hillary, that if he is elected he will appoint a special prosecutor and go after her, and if he is in charge of government she would be in jail.
These are satisfying words to frustrated people who can’t understand how the elite get away with murder and they are hounded by everyone from the IRS to the traffic cop. It is easy to let off steam this way and it is easy to pump your fist with a terse “YES!”
Before we go all in for this idea – however tantalizing and however much we may dislike Hillary and want to seek a comeuppance for her – we should remember that there is a line between mob rule and a civil judicial process; a difference between a strong arm dictator and an elected president of a republic governed by laws.
Any out there who were cheering Trump’s threat need to back off a bit here. Yes, we want things to be fair, we want to see the guilty punished, we want to see the victims made whole and the innocent vindicated. But, that is why we have a Constitution. It is only about 19 pages long – we should all read it often. In it are enshrined the principles on which this Republic was founded, the reasons we spilled our blood to bring it to life and to sustain it for 240 years.
The Bill of Rights was enacted at once with the Constitution. Its 5th Amendment provides as follows:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital or other infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service, in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life and limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.
Its 6th Amendment provides:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
We all know, and his supporters accept, that Donald Trump is unacquainted with our Constitution. However, this does not exempt him from it. Either we are a nation of laws or we are not. If we are not, we are nothing but a cult-driven mob. Trump’s supporters, when they cheer his departure from the Law of the Land, resemble the mob.
Had Trump said something like “I will appoint a special prosecutor to look into irregularities and we will seek justice in this,” he would have been right. I, too, would have cheered this. But he cannot go forward with a fair prosecution when he has poisoned the opinions of any who would sit in judgment on the facts. This is typical of a man who thinks life is all as simple as running a casino or making “great deals” or sexual conquests of women.
Before we flirt with the temptation of lynching Mrs. Clinton or anyone else, we need to remember we are a people with the great blessing of a Constitution and a set of laws that protect us all. This has been the problem with much of this year’s campaign. Fury with the implacable Democrat regime of the past seven years; frustration with the administration behaving as though it were a monarchy has led many to a sort of French Revolution of throwing over all that we have that can save us in an effort to punish a few.
Whenever we abandon our rule of law for a charismatic cult leader, or just push the escape button and jettison our Constitution in anger or frustration, we become no better than those we seek to punish. They have been acting outside the law, or so it would seem. Some have acted as though they are above the law.
If we do the same we cannot expect a better result. Just a different set of victims and a different list of wrongs.