In 1887, the eminent thinker Wallace F. Campbell, writing in The North American Review, introduced the term that is often used today: The Court of Public Opinion.
How cataloged by the Library of CongressCampbell wrote:
Courts, juries, and lawyers are usually assumed to constitute the proper tribunal ordained by the people for the trial of alleged criminals. The author of the “Court of Public Opinion” must assume that this is not so, and that the machinery of justice exists only for the purpose of automatically recording the prejudiced decision of a self-constituted court…a court of first instance whose judgment is infallible and from whose decision there is no appeal, is a very unsafe court for the people of this country.
Campbell may have had the wisdom to imagine what might happen 136 years later, and be talking about the relentless campaign by President Biden and the left to send former President Trump to prison. Attorney General Merrick Garland and his aggressive prosecutor Jack Smith are spending every federal resource to build a case that, under the right circumstances of a biased jury and a sympathetic bench, could result in a conviction that could appear infallible, as Campbell said. But the eminent thinker warns that this result would be difficult for voters to accept.
Indeed, the procedure in the case of classified documents is underway. Judge Cannon has already set the trial date for May 2024, just six months before the next US presidential election. Some conservatives complained that this date is too dangerous for President Trump. What if you are found guilty of at least one charge? The Democrats could not contain their joy. Running against a “criminal” would be the surest way to return President Biden to a second term.
But Democrats might be miscalculating.
What we’ve seen over the years is that every time the Deep State tries to hurt President Trump, his poll numbers go up and he’s able to fundraise even more than before. It’s an inexplicable reaction that frustrates Democrats, who fail to understand that most Americans are honest, ethical, busy people committed to taking care of their families, attending church, and being active in the community. Most voters do not understand the complexity of national security laws. Nor do they believe Trump committed criminal violations by engaging in a conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Voters may not remember their civics classes, but they know Trump has always cared about America’s standing in the world. From the moment he descended the escalators of Trump Tower in 2015, Trump’s brand has been that he wants America to win. Even in television interviews in the late 1980s and 1990s, Trump’s most consistent grievance against American officials was that they let foreigners take advantage of America and get ahead at the nation’s expense. For Trump watchers, the Make America Great Again campaign began more than 30 years ago.
So how could such an individual cause harm to America? It’s a question that baffles the average voter and Jack Smith’s attempts to prove that Trump obstructed justice. Instead, voters look at recent history and conclude that the Deep State obstructed justice against Trump in every case since 2015.
Russia-Russia-Russia turned out to be a hoax. The first allegation based on the Trump-Zelenskiy call was another hoax now that stories are emerging that Burisma executives allegedly paid the Biden family nearly $10 million in bribes. Trump’s request to Zelenskyy was to investigate these corruption charges, and the average voter would reply: Trump was right, after all.
Jack Smith, who revealed the indictment against President Trump, went out of his way to highlight the universality of the laws:
Adherence to the rule of law is a fundamental principle of the Department of Justice. And our nation’s commitment to the rule of law is an example to the world. We have one set of laws in this country and they apply to everyone. Applying these laws. Collection of facts. This is what determines the outcome of an investigation. Nothing more. Nothing less.
But the average voter believes that presidents are unique and that laws should only apply to them after giving them meaningful deference.
They may not realize that the Constitution sets aside an entire article (Article II) to enumerate presidential powers, but the average voter knows that no man on Earth is as powerful as a President of the United States. While in office, Trump had access to every secret America had, including the power to push the red button. He had the sole authority to classify or declassify the nation’s documents. Trump may no longer be president, but that doesn’t instantly make him a common man the day he left office. If that were the case, why would former presidents be eligible for lifetime Secret Service protection? Why would they be treated like royalty when visiting foreign countries?
Voters will likely hold Jack Smith’s case against Trump with deep skepticism even in the Jan. 6 riots. We will wait for these charges to be unsealed before summarizing our view.
The bottom line is that Biden is wandering into uncharted territory. The Constitution does not prohibit Trump from running for president even if he is guilty or thrown in jail.
President Biden, whose approval ratings are consistently in the 40s, has a tough race against another human being. He has a formidable challenge against a martyr, so formidable that his overzealousness to bring Trump to justice could make Biden a disastrous one-term president.
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