Political Landscape: Business as Usual

Business as Usual (CNET)

It is fascinating to watch drama. When some human beings are deeply involved in a critical incident of any kind, where the stakes are high and lives will be affected, it’s spellbinding. I have felt that way the past few days following Trump’s impeachment trial. I had a good idea what the opposing strategies would look like.

There is an old saying used by defense lawyers that has floated around for some time. It says: “If the facts favor your client, pound the facts. If the facts are against your client, pound the law. If the facts and law do not favor your client, pound the process. If the facts, law, or process do not favor your client, pound on the table.”

Donald J. Trump’s legal defense team is basically pounding the process to counter the arguments the House trial managers used to lay out their case. Prosecution was an easy case due to the amount of recorded evidence. Everyone in the world witnessed the insurrection on January 6, 2021. Everyone saw it for what it was. Recordings came in from virtually every angle that day. How can one argue with a live recording of an event?

The answer to that question is quite simple. You argue live recording by instructing viewers that what they are seeing is not actually what they are seeing. You convince viewers that the context of the recording they are watching is not what they think it is. You re-create history. You cancel reality and replace it with fantasy. You argue that common sense deductions and inferences are not correct and ‘HERE are the correct deductions.’

In other words, when you want to pound the process, you create an alternate reality in people’s minds hoping to lead them to believe your arguments and conclusions. In fact, let’s just call it what it is – conspiracy! The country is ripe with conspiracy theories, which have led large numbers of people to alternative views of activities in the United States and around the world. QAnon is one organization that has perpetuated those theories.

I’ve followed numerous conspiracy theories over the years from Kennedy’s assassination to the Twin Towers on 9/11. Contemporary conspiracies are even better now than before! The creators are better at their craft, and they have social media to bolster their tactics. Ever heard of QAnon? According to The New York Times, “QAnon is the umbrella term for a set of internet conspiracy theories that allege, falsely, that the world is run by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles.”

According to the Times, “QAnon followers believe that this cabal includes top Democrats like President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and George Soros, as well as a number of entertainers and Hollywood celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, and Ellen DeGeneres and religious figures including Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama. Many of them also believe that, in addition to molesting children, members of this group kill and eat their victims to extract a life-extending chemical called adrenochrome.”

What is fascinating regarding this theory is the individual who has been elevated to hero status – none other than populist former President Trump. “According to QAnon lore, Trump was recruited by top military generals to run for president in 2016 to break up this criminal conspiracy and bring its members to justice. Many of these cabal members will soon be arrested, the theory goes, and some will be imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay, while others will face military tribunals and be executed.”

During the insurrection at the Capitol, there were a large number of participants who sported QAnon insignia in various forms. The rallying cry heard by many who were present that day or who watched the video recordings could make logical connections between the QAnon narrative and those cries.

One of the primary arguments used by the House trial managers was the inciteful rhetoric Trump used in his rally shortly before and during the initial stages of the insurrection. Whoever watched the recordings and put the timetable together will logically conclude that many of those who broke the law that day and illegally entered the Capitol were incited by Trump’s presence and his words.

I recall my high school days when I played football. Before every game, our coach would give us a pep-talk. The language he used was always such that would incite his players to go out and brutally and with reckless abandon dismantle our opponents and claim victory.

As I watched the recordings of Trump rallying his base from January 6 shortly before they headed off to the Capitol, I could not help thinking of those coach pep-talks from years ago. They were almost identical in feeling and emotion as the one Trump delivered.

Likely, tomorrow the Senate will vote on Trump’s trial results – whether to convict or acquit. I have no doubt the verdict will be acquittal. I believe the news reports, polls, and the mindset of most of the Republican Senators. They have future elections coming up; they will sacrifice their duty to the U.S. Constitution and what is morally right with what is popular. And so goes business-as-usual for U.S. politics.