There is an old saying in Washington that every U.S. Senator looks in the mirror and sees a future president. With the political developments of the past few years, we could also say that anytime someone from the Washington establishment looks in the mirror they see Democracy.
We hear it over and over.
“He’s a threat to Democracy,” they said when Donald Trump ran for president in 2016.
“We’ve got to save Democracy,” they said as an excuse for the whole Russia burnout.
“He’s interfering with the upcoming election and therefore undercutting Democracy,” they said of his call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky back in 2019.
And again during his second run for the White House: Democracy, Democracy, Democracy!
But after so many investigations, accusations, rumors, and innuendoes, it is difficult not to come away thinking that what Permanent Washington is trying to save is not Democracy, but itself.
This kind of thinking has come up again following the recent grand jury indictment of Trump. Only now, instead of trying to save Lady Democracy, these same armored knights have moved on to the more attractive, but equally-in-danger, Princess Justice.
“Justice must be served,” they say after the umpteenth investigation. “We’ve got to have Justice. The Rule of Law is all that matters. Justice, Justice, Justice!”
Now, before I go any further, let me say that I care little for Trump the man. He’s arrogant, self-indulgent, materialistic; in short, he’s trampled on the cardinal virtues so many times that one could grow a French flower garden on them … if only he’d left us some soil.
But after so many investigations and different accusations by his opponents, trying to claim that the recent indictment is serving justice with a capital J is simply begging the question. The reasoning seems to go like this:
“Why is such a small infraction, a misdemeanor which the prosecutor upgraded to a felony, serving Justice?” one might ask.
“Because this is Donald Trump,” they reply.
“But what’s so special about that, what crimes has he been convicted of?”
“None. But look at all that he’s been accused of.”
“Ok, but who has done the accusing?”
It’s a classic case of circular reasoning.
If Donald Trump is guilty of something that his accusers or the leaders of his accusers’ party haven’t done themselves, then let him be prosecuted. But, please, let’s do away with all the heady notions of Democracy and Justice, words that at this point are merely a disguise for partisanship.
If we truly want to return to these high values, we can. But this would require a much less myopic view than what is being exercised today. To truly put Democracy and Justice back in their rightful place, modern-day political critics, players, and officeholders will need to take a much broader view, one that includes more than just the object of their obsession, Donald Trump.
If they were to do this, the first thing they would see is that it isn’t just Trump that may or may not have committed crimes. Based on the criteria used for the investigations of the latter, there is plenty of evidence to support a real look into the Biden family’s business dealings abroad, or the origin of Covid-19, or the Clintons and the Russian Dossier, or Jeffrey Epstein, or ... the list goes on and on. Then and only then will the twin goddesses of Democracy and Justice begin to be saved.
Until then, these two words have something of the falseness of the story about the so-called suicide victim who stabbed himself 50 times, or the boy who cried wolf. They seem, well, phony. And by continuing this way, the Washington Establishment is merely flattering itself, looking into a faulty mirror and seeing only what it wants to see.
But we can resurrect these tattered maidens of Democracy and Justice, worn though they are. All it takes is a long, truthful look in a mirror that isn’t faulty … and a willingness to make some very tough admissions.
Along with his father, Allen Keller runs a lumber business in Stevenson, Alabama. He has a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from Florida State University and an MBA from University of Virginia. He can be reached for comment at email@example.com.
Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.