by Keaton Weiss
The recent raid – ahem, pardon me – execution of a search warrant – on Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate was an escalation of the Cold Civil War that’s been raging beneath the surface these past several years. Remember the second Presidential debate of 2016 when Trump threatened to prosecute Hillary Clinton for her mishandling of classified information if he won the White House, and the press gasped in collective horror? Well as it turns out, it was Democratic Attorney General Merrick Garland who ended up authorizing such a severe and unprecedented act against Trump himself – a move that, justified or not, is likely to further destabilize our already volatile political ecosystem.
America is a tinder box of bitterness and resentment liable to blow at any minute. Whether or not this all started with Trump vs. Clinton is above my pay grade to determine, but there’s no doubt that 2016 was the most divisive election in modern American history, and we’ve been at each other’s throats ever since.
During the campaign, Trump’s base was convinced that Hillary Clinton should have been indicted, tried, convicted, and imprisoned for her mishandling of classified information on a private email server. Now, Trump is being investigated for similar actions just as the 2024 campaign season is about to begin. Clinton herself responded to news of the raid by peddling sarcastically designed “But Her Emails” merch on her website, while Marjorie Taylor Greene began hawking “Defund the FBI” shirts and caps in her official campaign store.
That these Espionage Swag Wars are as profitable as they are should tell you something about the state of our politics. We’re as divided as we’ve been since 1861, with no signs of reconciliation in sight. Liberals are chomping at the bit to see Trump in an orange jumpsuit, and conservatives are convinced that Trump is being singled out for persecution while Hillary was allowed to skate.
Fortunately, the solution to this problem is staring us right in the face. We should, to heal the nation and save our democracy, jail both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
They’re Both Guilty
Clinton used email servers, Trump used cardboard boxes (this itself is a fitting metaphor for Democrats’ neo-feudal tech nightmare and Republicans’ nostalgia for analog primitiveness). But the essence of their offenses is more or less the same. In both instances, Clinton and Trump mishandled sensitive information.
Much ado is being made of “nuclear” documents being stored in Trump’s basement, as if nothing was stopping Rudy Giuliani from pounding a kettle of Dewar’s and unilaterally deciding that San Francisco’s public schools had crowned their last non-binary prom queen. Similar hyperbolic speculation ran amok in 2016 – could Hillary have deleted the emails containing the password for Comet Pizza’s secret “event space” before turning her materials over to the authorities? In both cases, people’s imaginations seem to have run a bit wild.
But also in both cases, it seems Trump and Clinton likely violated the Espionage Act. The FBI decided against indicting Clinton because they felt they couldn’t prove intent, and they were nervous about interfering in a Presidential election already underway. Prosecuting Trump would probably be difficult for these same reasons, especially given the aforementioned precedent. But any appearance of preferential treatment for Hillary could be dispelled by simply prosecuting her alongside him.
We all know they’re both guilty, and so why not just call it even for the sake of keeping the peace? It would restore peoples’ faith in America as a level playing field in which both entrenched establishment neoliberal vampires and renegade grease-painted neofascist killer clowns can be made to stare down the same system of justice. After all, nO oNe iS aBoVe tHe lAw.
Hate Trumps Love
Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign was the worst in history in just about every way, including its choice of slogans. We all remember “I’m With Her,” which accomplished the practically impossible feat of being more narcissistic than anything Donald Trump could have thought up. Then there was “Stronger Together,” a phrase that broke the forgettability meter by being so generic as to be notable for its particular banality. But there was a third popular saying that, though never an official slogan, became an oft-repeated rallying cry of the Clinton campaign: Love Trumps Hate.
Really? Love trumps hate? Since when? Tell that to Martin Luther King, Mohandas Ghandi, John Lennon, and Jesus Christ. Hatred has always been a more potent political motivator than love. And now, in the age of cable news and social media, negative partisanship is clearly the force which drives our politics more than anything else.
What this means is that Americans generally hate their political opponents more than they love their political allies. Hillary Stans hate Trump more than they love Hillary, and MAGA Chuds hate Hillary more than they worship Trump. This means that when push comes to shove, each of these cults would likely sacrifice their own leader in order to bring down their opponents’. This makes prosecuting both Trump and Clinton a queen trade on the political chess board. For both players, it stings a bit, but it’s ultimately worth it in the end for each of them.
Own for an Own
Because our government is so corrupt that legislation which serves up billions of dollars and millions of acres in giveaways to fossil fuel companies can be touted with a straight face as a “climate bill,” the most satisfying reward one can hope to earn though political engagement is the endorphin rush that comes with “owning” your opponent. An own is a political bitcoin: intrinsically worthless, but coveted nonetheless for reasons we can’t rationally explain. We’re all chasing owns, and though we can’t see them or touch them, we can feel it when we get one. In a world where hate trumps love, owns reign supreme.
And let’s face it: jailing Trump is the Golden Own for Democrats, as jailing Clinton is for MAGA world. Awarding each side such a revelatory, orgasmic own would usher in the kind of quiet and still refractory period this country needs right now, and might be just what the doctor ordered to avert the next Civil War.
Might one side be slightly more worthy of their own than the other? Sure. But as a leftist, I believe in the redistribution of owns from those who have them to those who need them for the sake of maintaining social stability.
And let’s not forget, Trump and Clinton are both widely and rightfully despised figures foisted upon the independent majority by crazed partisan lunatics called Democratic and Republican primary voters. Most Americans won’t shed a tear for either of them, and those who do will also take solace in the knowledge that their nemesis is also languishing behind bars. Therein lies the genius of this proposal in which the owned are at once the owners, bringing balance to all things.
So there you have it – my prescription to pull America back from the brink. They both deserve it. To quibble over who deserves it more is to miss the forest for the trees at a time where we need to be thinking big picture. Jailing both Trump and Clinton is the only way to truly unite the country at this point. It’s the only way to give everyone around us the apology we all know is owed them. It’s the only way to hug it out and let bygones be bygones. We all fucked up big time, and deep down, we all know it. Let’s just admit it to ourselves and each other. To save democracy, lock em both up.
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