While we ponder the pathetic fact that the top candidate for the 2024 Republican nomination is a twice-impeached quadruple-indicted electorally-defeated accused racketeer, and while we absorb the breadth and depth of Georgia’s “criminal enterprise” case (19 defendants, 41 felony counts, 30 un-indicted co-conspirators), let’s bear in mind what British essayist and novelist Aldous Huxley once said about the downside of human nature:
Man “often behaves more stupidly than the beasts. Man is impelled to invent theories to account for what happens in the world. Unfortunately, he is not quite intelligent enough, in most cases, to find correct explanations. So that when he acts on his theories, he behaves very often like a lunatic.”
In Georgia this week, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and a grand jury comprised of ordinary citizens basically channelled Huxley and gifted us 98 historic pages.
Buttressed by scores of witnesses (most of them Republicans), they’ve concluded that Trump lost Georgia in the 2020 election, refused to accept defeat, then conspired with 18 others to invent lunatic “election fraud” theories in a sustained criminal quest to overturn the legal results. Their “criminal enterprise” (so named in accordance with Georgia’s anti-racketeering statute) “engaged in various related criminal activities including, but not limited to, false statements and writings, impersonating a public ofﬁcer, forgery, ﬁling false documents, influencing witnesses, computer theft, computer trespass, computer invasion of privacy, conspiracy to defraud the state, acts involving theft, and perjury.”
How sweet it is that, in Georgia, anyone convicted of a racketeering conspiracy is required to serve five years in prison (that’s the mandatory minimum); that a president or a governor cannot pardon a racketeering criminal (only the Board of Pardons can do that, and only after five years in jail). That’s called being tough on crime, something that all Republicans supposedly support.
And oh, I almost forgot: In Georgia, arraignments and trials are televised by cameras in the courtroom. At some point before the election, the mountainous evidence of Trump’s criminality will be broadcast worldwide. That won’t make a dent in the dead minds of MAGA devotees, but it will be edifying for the rest of us who presumably constitute the electoral majority.
We need a televised trial, if only to demonstrate that facts and truth are still the hallmarks of our fragile civilization. Mona Charen, a sane conservative who served in the Reagan White House, wrote the other day that Trump’s relentless lies are “an acid eating away at the already frayed bonds of affection among Americans,” and we need only read the Georgia indictment to see those lies at work.
“Trump will not have the scope, so often exploited in the past, to create diversions,” Charen wrote. “(A trial) will hold us and him in its grip.”
Page 51 alone gives us a flavor. When Trump tried to pressure three Georgia election officials into “finding” him enough votes to overturn his loss, he unleashed a barrage of garbage: That “anywhere from 250,000 to 300,000 ballots were dropped mysteriously into the rolls” on election day; that “4,502 people” voted even though they weren’t registered; that “close to 5,000 dead people” voted; that “thousands of dead people” had voted in Michigan; that fake ballots were stuffed in Detroit and Pennsylvania; that a seasoned Georgia election worker named Ruby Freeman was “a professional vote scammer” who, with her daughter, rigged 18,000 votes for Joe Biden.
It’s all there in the Georgia document: The rancid lies, the harassment of innocent election workers (Freeman had to flee her home), the slate of fake electors, the whole nine yards.
It’s distressing that most members of his hermetically-sealed cult still indulge Trump – to the point where they’re apparently willing to award another presidential nomination to the accused head of a criminal enterprise who’s saddled with 91 felony counts in four jurisdictions. And Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, a Republican who testified against Trump to the grand jury, is a party outlier who warns that Trump is “taking the party straight into the ditch.” But, at minimum, we should be heartened that our criminal justice machinery is still grinding along. Lies, and criminal acts on behalf of those lies, do not play well in courts of law.
Our best hope – don’t give up hope! – is that schoolchildren for generations to come will learn for themselves what it was like in America when the world’s stupidest mob boss and his criminal confederacy of dunces lied with alacrity in their desperate attempt to destroy democracy in the Peach State and the nation at large.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For now, it’s enough to conjure Ray Charles:
“Just an old sweet song / Keeps Georgia on my mind.”