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Caricature of U.S. President Donald Trump. (DonkeyHotey, Flikr, CC BY 2.0)

I’m sorry, but this is a completely political post. So, if politics disinterests or annoys you, now is the time to stop reading.

I’m writing about politics and not religion because, 39 days from what may be one of the most momentous elections in American history, and in my opinion politics at this fraught moment vastly trumps (pun intended) religion in national importance.

And I’d like to point out something frightening that has become ever so apparent during the four years of Donald Trump’s first, destructively chaotic term as president: There appears to be little if anything we can do to stop his wrecking-ball pathologies from destroying the guardrails of the republic as much as he fancies.

Of course, we might vote him out on Nov. 3, but much of the lasting and perhaps permanent wreckage he has inflicted on civic trust in America’s alphabet soup of public institutions — the CIA, FBI, CDC, FDA, USPS, SCOTUS, FEC, etc., etc. — could remain long afterward.

And the president now is even threatening to not allow a peaceful transfer of power after the presidential vote, as the Constitution requires (and has always happened). He clearly seems to be subtly urging armed rebellion in the streets if he loses — and incalculable violence almost seems inevitable with right-wing white-supremacist thugs (by far the most lethal violent force in America, according to the FBI) in particular, rabid thrall to the president.

Two critical points of the president’s gambit should be analyzed here for what they are:

  1. There is no evidence whatsoever of the massive voter fraud he claims will occur related to mail-in ballots in Democrat-run states (although he is encouraging mail-ins in GOP-led and red Florida). Indeed, FBI Director Christopher Ray this week told Congress that no evidence historically exists up to now of any widespread, coordinated voter fraud in American elections. Even a red-letter committee Trump formed after his election to “get to the bottom” of voter fraud he claimed robbed him of the 3 million some odd votes Hillary Clinton beat him by turned up … nothing, and had to disband. Clinton handily won the popular vote it turned out, fair and square. He only “won” due to an Electoral College fluke.
  2. Even though the president’s claims of voter fraud are completely unsubstantiated, and, in fact, officially debunked by his own FBI chief this week and election officials of both parties nationwide, there appears to be no sure way to stop Trump from not only continuing to lie about it to aid his re-election but increasingly exaggerate the lie.

How is the president’s behavior not seditious — meaning an incitement of rebellion of his followers to fight not the government that he heads but the Constitution and the public institutions he can’t control, simply because he doesn’t like the fact that things don’t seem to be going very well for him in pre-election polls. Biden is clearly beating him, and has been for months, even in key battleground states that in recent years have reliably gone Republican.

Why is this not a crime against the nation, being carried out in broad daylight with no historical, moral, ethical or material justification, just autocratic whim?

Keep in mind that his true goal is to blow-up the election with chaos and remain in power within the fog of war as the dust and obscuring mist settles. In what way is this the behavior of a man who loves his country and countrymen, and its critical pillars of stability and honor?

I fear that if key Republicans (I mean you, U.S. senators) don’t come out forcefully to condemn the president before the election and, for example, refuse to vote on his Supreme Court nominee until after the election, not before, he will continue to wreak havoc that will have long-term negative consequences on the nation.

Regarding the high court nomination and the 200 extremely conservative federal judges already appointed by Trump, note that they weren’t selected with the good of the entire populace in mind but the good of the GOP’s most conservative and religious toadies. These judges are a symbol of the bad faith of this administration.

But, still, it appears nothing can be done because hypocrisy, bad faith, dishonor and immorality, not to mention open sedition, abuse of power and outright fraud seem to have no statutes preventing them and holding their sordid practitioners accountable.

And this is the really frightening part: the system appears to assume that Americans will make smart, rational decisions in politics if we have “free speech,” which, in Trump’s case, means saying any bald-faced thing he pleases to deceive and misinform Americans for his own dishonest purposes.

I know his supporters vicariously think Donald Trump’s meanness and manifestly criminal mendacity are cute and entertaining, but they choose to ignore how dangerous it is to all of us. These are the presumably rational, well-informed, responsible people the American system relies on for its survival?

So, God willing (should a deity exist), Joe Biden will trounce Trump on Nov. 3 and we can get back to the business of rebuilding the institutional and governmental trust that the president has torn asunder, and making America whole again.

The first order of business should be to pass new bipartisan laws that resolutely hold even presidents strictly accountable to legal and moral boundaries, and laws that prohibit even political parties controlling Congress from cynically denying justice, as the Senate did in their Trump “impeachment” charade.

In a perfect world, as well, laws would be in place to punish politicians at every level for gratuitously lying to the American people, as Trump has demonstrably done thousands of times in his term, and which fact-checkers have confirmed.

But the most important vaccine to protect the American people from similar populist charlatans in the future is to indict the president after the vote for his manifold crimes against his own people, including treasonous chumminess with Russia (that’s why so many of his henchmen ended up in prison for lying about it) and extortion of Ukraine’s president for help in his re-election using tax money as leverage. For good measure, we can add his obliteration of the emoluments clause to enrich himself at America’s public trough, lying to the Mueller team about his hush-money payoff to a porn star to hide a sexual picadillo. And let’s finally force a look-see at those tax returns.

The ancient Athenians were onto something, believing that irresponsible, unreasonable, unknowledgeable citizens should not be allowed to vote.

But if such people are allowed to vote, as they are in the United States, laws and rules are needed to mitigate their worst instincts, which — as as their compulsion to elect an narcissistic, amoral con-man as president — can inflict untold damage on the republic.

If our laws were sufficient to hold the president accountable for the orgy of soulless mendacity he unleashed on America, he would at worst be out of office by now or, better yet, in jail.

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Rick Snedeker

Rick Snedeker is a retired American journalist/editor who now writes in various media and pens nonfiction books. He has received nine past top South Dakota state awards for newspaper column, editorial,...