My Point of View: May justice prevail in Trump’s criminal cases

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, August 8, 2023

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My Point of View by Jennifer Vogt-Erickson

It was fun to chat with people at the Freeborn County DFL booth under the Grandstand at the fair this past week. We had many conversations about Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party accomplishments this year — like free public college, affordable day care, paid family medical leave and codifying reproductive rights — and what it means for their families.

Jennifer Vogt-Erickson

We are proud that the DFL is making life better in meaningful ways for regular people in Minnesota.

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As it happened, fair week was also the week that special counsel Jack Smith brought another landmark indictment against former president Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., for conspiring with others to subvert the Electoral College results and steal the 2020 election. The crisply written 45-page document is meticulously backed by evidence.

According to the indictment, former president Trump and six unindicted co-conspirators approached officials in states like Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin with baseless claims about voter fraud after the 2020 election, which the state officials all refuted. Despite this, Trump knowingly repeated these false claims to the public, and his co-conspirators moved forward with a fake electors scheme.

Trump knew that he had lost, but he attempted a coup to retain power. It should shock every single one of us that his criminal plan got as far as it did. He is now facing justice for his lawless actions.

After the indictment, Trump predictably showed his mob boss disposition, threatening in all capital letters on his social media site, “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU.”

Notice he dropped the pretense that he’s taking slings and arrows on behalf of the American people, like when he tweeted a meme in 2019 after his first impeachment stating, “In reality they’re not after me, they’re after you. I’m just in the way.”

Of course, all along he has cynically used “the people” as a shield to protect himself from accountability for his self-serving behavior. I hope his ploy is becoming visible to his supporters, but so far Republican voters are sticking with him despite his long and growing list of criminal charges. He remains the clear frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination.

Trump owes much of his continued dominance in the party to the right-wing media noise machine. FOX News aired a graphic last week showing how the dates of Trump’s indictments each align with some development about President Biden’s son Hunter, suggesting the Trump indictments are really a smoke screen to protect the Bidens. It’s a dubious argument considering that FOX covers something about Hunter Biden nearly every day, like his former associate Devon Archer’s testimony before the House Oversight committee last week.

(Archer stated, for the record, that he was not aware of any wrongdoing by Joe Biden.)

FOX was the brainchild of Roger Ailes, a Nixon aide who wanted to create pro-Republican TV that would tell Nixon’s story unfiltered through traditional media fact-checking. A memo in the Nixon library of the plan states, “Today television news is watched more often than people read newspapers, than people listen to the radio, than people read or gather any other form of communication. The reason: People are lazy. With television you just sit–watch–listen. The thinking is done for you.”

With this same contempt for regular people, Ailes designed FOX as a propaganda tool for the Republican Party. It has conditioned viewers for nearly 30 years to vote for the Republican agenda against things that many would naturally be inclined to support, like labor rights, access to affordable health care and investments in public infrastructure. Trump’s flamboyant style fit seamlessly with this model.

When Ailes became a liability to FOX as the result of Gretchen Carlson’s high-profile sexual harassment suit against him in 2016, the Murdoch family (which owns the company) reportedly forced him to resign.

There’s no indication Trump has reached the Murdochs’ limit yet. FOX is still running interference for Trump even after it settled to pay nearly $800 million to Dominion for spreading disinformation about its voting systems, lies which Trump and his associates like Rudy Giuliani and Sydney Powell (likely co-conspirators No. 1 and No. 3) pushed after the 2020 election.

If the Murdochs ever cut Trump loose, his candidacy probably wouldn’t survive it. One of the crucial things protecting Trump now is FOX’s fear of losing its own audience, which it has manipulated for years to be unfalteringly loyal to Trump.

Partly as a result, Republicans have become an unmoored party based on personality rather than principles, and the U.S. House under Speaker McCarthy is barely functioning. Republicans have become the party of lawlessness and disorder.

May justice prevail in Trump’s criminal cases. In the meantime, Democrats are leading the way to a brighter future in Minnesota. Voters can trust the DFL to take governing seriously and get things done for working people and families.

Jennifer Vogt-Erickson is a member of the Freeborn County DFL Party.