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When the Elites Declare War

(Reuters/Brendan McDermid)

Show trials, we had thought, were totalitarian relics, a blunt tool wielded by dictators like Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong in order to show people, quite literally, what would happen to those who dared to defy the regime. And here it was, happening in 2024, in America.”

We still entertained the illusion. Four absurd criminal prosecutions had all been brought against former President Donald Trump within a short span by Democratic-operative prosecutors at a time when it was already likely that he would be the sitting United States President’s chief challenger in the upcoming election. A civil lawsuit for defamation barred by the statute of limitations had already been permitted to go forward against President Trump based on stale—and, therefore, very difficult to rebut—accusations of rape by E. Jean Carroll when New York temporarily suspended that statute of limitations to permit such lawsuits to be filed. The lawsuit predictably resulted in many millions in damages. Another civil fraud lawsuit had already been brought by the Trump-hating activist New York Attorney General Letitia James, charging a bizarre victimless financial crime steered toward its inexorable outcome by a Trump-hating judge and yielding a $355 million verdict against the Trump Organization. President Trump, in the meantime, had become the presumptive Republican Party nominee for President. 

In the midst of election season, with a stumbling, fumbling person occupying the most powerful office in the world and lagging behind in all of the relevant polls, the first and silliest of the four criminal prosecutions—based on an invented crime hardly anyone could explain—was set to go forward in New York. The judge was a donor to President Joe Biden. His daughter was a prominent activist and donor to President Biden, with big clients of hers having raised nearly $100 million in campaign donations by using the New York case in solicitation emails. The Manhattan jury pool was overwhelmingly Democratic. The judge was doing everything in his power to ensure a guilty verdict: needlessly permitting purely inflammatory testimony by porn star Stormy Daniels to describe her purported sexual encounter with President Trump, preventing the defendant from having an expert witness testify about the substance of the arcane campaign finance laws the State was trying to enforce, severely restricting another defense witness’s testimony and then lashing out in an unseemly screaming fit and threatening contempt when the witness’s consternation at the court’s rulings called forth the judge’s wounded machismo and, finally, instructing the jury that so long as they find that President Trump falsified business records, they did not have to agree on what alleged predicate crime he was hoping to cover up in the process. The jury was sent off to deliberate.

And yet, though we saw all the ready-to-fall dominoes being neatly lined up in their places by the powers that be, we still entertained the illusion, the fleeting hope that this was not really happening, that political passions would be put aside, that cooler heads would prevail, that these 12 anonymous New Yorkers would rise up to this moment of impending national crisis to play the hero’s role and realize that the cheap thrill of punishing a political adversary was not worth plunging the nation into the maelstrom all-but-certain to be sent spinning as a consequence of a guilty verdict. But on the afternoon of May 30, 2024, our fleeting hopes were dashed; the final domino fell: The guilty verdict was proclaimed throughout the land.

We were shell shocked. Was this really happening? Would they really go this far? Show trials, we had thought, were totalitarian relics, a blunt tool wielded by dictators like Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong in order to show people, quite literally, what would happen to those who dared to defy the regime. And here it was, happening in 2024, in America. When the historians of the future sit down to write American democracy’s epitaph, the wise ones among them will point to this date, to May 30, 2024, as the day the ever-more-creaky wheels finally came off, the day the thin veneer of civility fell away, the day the veil was lifted and our eyes were opened to the base and brutish character of our adversaries. 

The Left, and especially its political elites, are perfectly willing to cheat to break rules to win elections. Polling shows that just 7% of Americans want their preferred candidate to cheat to win. But 35% of those comprising the overwhelmingly left-leaning elite 1% (82% of which supports President Biden) are okay with a victory secured by chicanery, and among the politically obsessed members of that elite, that number is a startling 69%. These people—politically obsessed elites of the Left—are, of course, the ones who operate nearly all our powerful institutions. They are our Democratic Party insiders and donors, our mainstream media, our social media and other Big Tech operatives, our technocrats of the Deep State, our Blue State prosecutors and judges. To further their goals, these power brokers cast their hypnotic spells—going by names like “Social Justice,” “DEI,” “the Science,” “the Facts,” and the usual litany of academia’s pseudo-intellectual buzzwords (“decolonization,” “patriarchy,” “systemic racism,” etc.)—over like-minded white-collar yes-men and, to put the fear of God in their political opponents, deploy their shock troops: the woke identity activists and the indoctrinated, coddled children of the wealthy elites. 

Meanwhile, for years, normal Americans, the law-abiding conservative majority, the ones who actually keep the assembly lines moving, the trains running and generators humming, have been too busy working, raising their kids and living their lives to take notice of these elites’ backroom manipulations and shenanigans. While the #BLM hooters and looters rioted for days on end with impunity, we stayed home and watched, waiting, hoping that someone—someone else—would stop the violence and hold the rampaging thugs and miscreants to account. No savior ever came to our rescue. Instead, we watched our spineless corporations, schools, universities and political leaders speak out in support of the violent mob. They were let off with slaps on the wrist, and sometimes, even, with apologies and garlands. Our elites saved their indignation for the protesters of January 6th, the ones whose infractions against law and order were far slighter than those of the #BLM barbarians but whose march on and into the Capitol—intentionally permitted to go forward by the cynical authorities salivating at the prospect of having these events to use for their homilies and show trials—were punished harshly because they had offended the left elite’s delicate sensibilities. Among the harshest of sentencers was one, Judge Tanya Chutkan, assigned to President Trump’s January 6th prosecution. 

But the hits kept coming. When we found our kids repeating utterly loony nonsense they had learned in school about systemic racism, declaring pronouns, and rapidly proliferating genders and sexualities, we started to awaken to the fact that while we were working, paying our taxes and going about our mundane days, our institutions had been taken over by sinister radicals and those both willingly and unwittingly doing their bidding, and now we were under attack. We began asking questions, voicing exasperation, raising heck. We went to school board meetings and made our voices heard. 

But the Left’s institutional takeover had been deep-seated and thorough, and with news of President Trump’s multiple lawsuits and prosecutions, even as the disastrous Presidency of the incompetent codger in the White House was worsening our lot at home and abroad in every possible way, we understood that this was the desperate gambit they would use to stay in power. They had weaponized the Federal Bureau of Investigation and colluded with the media and Big Tech last time around to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story that would likely have swung the election of 2020. But with runaway inflation, streams of illegal immigrants being deliberately permitted to overrun our cities and strain our resources, total chaos unleashed in our crime-filth-and-disorder-riddled urban wastelands, our disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, a war in Ukraine provoked by President Biden’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) overtures to Ukraine, a war in Gaza precipitated as a result of the Biden Administration’s reversal of President Trump’s pressure on Hamas-sponsoring Iran, and, most obviously, President Biden himself showing every sign of steadily creeping cognitive incapacity, the same level of election interference that had won the day for him and his minions and puppeteers in 2020 was clearly no longer going to be adequate. Show trials would be needed this time around. 

But there is a glaring problem with show trials: Unlike the kinds of behind-the-scenes censorship, collusion and coercion they had resorted to in the past, show trials, by their very nature, must take place out in the open. As such, to succeed in their purpose, they need to be legitimated, rammed down our throats by all the combined power of the Big Media elites. If they fail, if we find their outcomes thoroughly unjust, and if they too obviously swing the election or, worse, deprive us of our chosen candidate, the risk to the powers that be is enormous. The risk is a popular revolt.

The media did what it could. It flooded the airwaves with coverage and treated the charges with utmost gravity. It screamed “criminal” and “fascist” at every opportunity. Meanwhile, prosecutors did their best to rush the proceedings forward, hoping to get the shows started well before the election would take place. At best, they might have reasoned, the former President would find himself a jailed convicted felon just as the Election Day approached, it being too late to find a suitable replacement. 

For all their effort, however, the Supreme Court, the one major institution not yet taken over by the left elites, managed to put the brakes on the Washington, D.C. insurrection case as it considers President Trump’s dubious claim of absolute Presidential immunity from prosecution. Appeals regarding the same issue halted the progress of the Georgia election-interference case. And the Florida documents case had landed in the lap of a judge appointed by President Trump more sympathetic to the ex-President; she put the proceedings on an indefinite hiatus to address document issues. That meant that none of these three prosecutions would likely be resolved before the November election. This left only the most ludicrous of the four cases, the one in New York based on a novel legal theory hardly anyone could understand but involving an act of legal necromancy to turn a time-barred misdemeanor into a felony and having something to do with sex with a porn star, something to do with falsifying business records, something to do with tax issues, and something to do with the 2016 election. The resulting ramshackle concoction pushed the credibility of the powers that be steering this agenda to the breaking point, but it was all they had. 

The judge, understanding his critical role in the game, ran roughshod over President Trump’s team’s every last-ditch effort at further delay and got the trial in motion. Americans on both sides of the aisle looked on with trepidation as the creaky machine went in motion. And, wouldn’t you know it, the legal black magic spell worked. The witch’s brew mashed up the legal equivalent of toads, worms and vipers (including a particular pit viper named Michael Cohen) and poof!produced a guilty verdict.

But, of course, it was something less than a resounding victory. The glaring wrench in the works is that, no matter his political sympathies, no matter what he might say in public to his political allies and enemies or even say to himself to rationalize these events, pretty much every single American knows in his heart of hearts that this lipstick-on-a-pig prosecution was deeply bogus. Like the creepily, guiltily grinning President Biden, even liberal publications have been sheepish in embracing the result, whether calling it the right verdict in the wrong case or a good result achieved at the cost of making a mockery of the law. A Democratic Congressman has called upon New York Governor Kathy Hochul to pardon President Trump in order to avoid making him a martyr. Many know, also, that the verdict stands a good chance of being overturned on appeal, whether as a result of the judge’s many errors or as a result of a First Amendment issue that makes the payment of hush money to a porn star, even if it is truly to influence an election outcome (rather than simply to save oneself embarrassment before one’s family and friends), a likely case of protected speech. But an appeal would not materialize in any outcome until some time significantly after the 2024 election and so, for practical purposes, no longer matters. What does matter is that the sentencing hearing is currently scheduled for July 11th, a mere four days before the start of the Republican National Convention at which President Trump will be formally nominated as the Republican nominee. And what matters even more is that the ruse may have backfired: with the pronouncement of that “guilty” verdict on the 30th of May, 2024, we—we the People—have woken up.

We know now for certain that the political elites desperate to hold onto the reins of power will stoop to anything, no matter how low and debased, to achieve their desired outcome. We know, as well, that we as citizens and as voters are mere obstacles in their path. And we know that if they ever do push us to the breaking point, if we ever do rise up, there will be nothing they can do to stop us.

They know it too. They are sounding the alarm bells already. A worried article in The Atlantic is proclaiming that “the MAGA Internet” is “calling for war.” But it is not “the MAGA internet,” whatever that may be. It is we the people. And we are not calling for war. A war on us has been declared. Their m.o. is obvious enough: use the cover of institutions and legalisms to run their attack through officially sanctioned channels and then batten down the hatches, calling all-hands-on-deck for the expected mass counterattack that they can then label and prosecute as the action of a lawless, proto-fascist mob—which, in its turn, can then be used as the occasion for further legalistic reprisals against us.  

But that tack, deployed so successfully against the small mob of January 6th, will only succeed here if, yet again, the numbers of those standing up in opposition to the regime are meager. The left elites’ predicament, in that respect, is this: the further they go, the lower their chances of keeping those numbers in check. On July 11th, we the people will be watching very carefully. And so when he dons the black robe and takes the bench on that fateful day, Judge Merchan, too, would be well-advised to tread very carefully. If he imposes a probation and a fine, well…maybe that will pass without incident. But if he goes too far, if he lets the tangible and intangible vectors of pressure emanating from his elite overlords and the power of his judicial gavel go to his head, if he dares to impose jail time, that is a dare we may very likely decide to take.

Alexander Zubatov is a lawyer in New York, as well as an essayist and poet. He can be found on X @Zoobahtov

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