Jail for Trump — No Way


Marble Falls      The guilty conviction of former president, Donald Trump, on all thirty-four counts is huge.  No former president has ever been convicted of a felony.  The conviction’s impact is unclear, but early indications are that it is moving some voters away from him.  Now there is seemingly endless speculation over whether Trump should or will do time in prison based on this verdict.  Some may have even bothered to read about the fact that Secret Service would be behind bars with him.  Alvin Bragg, the elected Manhattan District Attorney, who prosecuted and won the case in this hush-money trial, now has to recommend a sentence, and some wonder if he is going to demand jail time for Trump.  In my opinion, he should not.

In New York, this is a Class E felony, which is to say, small potatoes.  Trump may be many things, but this is not the crime that should put him behind bars.  January 6th, that’s another matter, but even then, it’s worth remembering the magnanimity shown by General, and later President, Grant to the generals and leaders to the Confederacy.  Yes, it went badly later under Andrew Johnson and the recalcitrant, reactionary Congress that undercut Reconstruction and the Freedman’s Bureau, but that doesn’t mean that an attempt at unity and measured vindication over the crime at issue here isn’t warranted.  Simply put, you don’t put a US president in jail over thin soup no matter how sleazy or despicable.  We aren’t Pakistan, Myanmar, Russia, or India, for goodness’s sake. This is when the long view is more important than the short game.

Trump is chortling that he’s glad to go to jail.  He’s raising money hand over fist from his base since his conviction.  He knows he was guilty, he just didn’t like being prosecuted over it, which is why he and his fan club have argued it’s a political prosecution, and he is trying to milk it for political advantage, if he can.  Of course, he’s right, this was a political trial, but Trump bears as much responsibility for that as Bragg, the judge, or any of those involved.  He’s a master of the PT Barnum edict that “any publicity is good publicity.”  If he didn’t want all of this, he could have settled this matter in minutes, unlike the other cases where he is before the bar.  The trial on some days, in and out of court, was a showplace for his grievances.

`            It’s not uncommon that a loser pretends to be a martyr.  Bragg doesn’t need to help him become one.   When I was an officer for some years in the Greater New Orleans AFL-CIO, we would, inexplicitly to me in the beginning, interview whole dockets of elected judges seeking our endorsement.  As they would leave after their remarks, one of the building trades guys, often trying to get a DUI or something dismissed for a member, would always be tasked to say, “we believe in justice, but we want to know that we can sometimes talk to you about mercy.”

This is one of those times when we need some mercy to go with the justice.  Bragg needs to forget about jailing Trump and instead get him on probation for a year with a mandatory monthly meeting with his probation officer, and he needs to be sentenced to one-hundred hours of community service at a women’s center in Manhattan.  He might actually learn something from that experience, and it would be more powerful for everyone involved than a couple of days or weeks in jail, which will never, ever happen.  That would be justice.  Anything else would seem like vengeance.