Darren Bailey Should Not Be Governor

Bailey’s politics and past statements make him a horrible choice for Illinois

Darren Bailey smiling against a brick building. | Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons

The race for the governorship is in full swing, and the candidates, current Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Darren Bailey are now readying to make their case to the people of Illinois. But with the new race, it is increasingly evident that Darren Bailey is not fit to serve in government. Throughout his time in politics and government, Bailey has proven himself entirely inadequate and irresponsible when in power. Through his rhetoric and prejudiced beliefs, Darren Bailey has weaponized the fires of hatred and ignorance within the public sphere.

Right off the bat, we must acknowledge the severity of Bailey’s beliefs on abortion. According to Pew Research Center, abortion rights have risen to the highest since 1995, with 61% of Americans supporting a woman’s right to choose whether or not to get an abortion in “all or most cases.” Despite that, Darren Baily is an avid opponent of abortion and advocates for a near-total ban on abortion, with only the mother’s life being an acceptable justification for a woman getting an abortion. That position alone makes Bailey’s candidacy radically opposed to the needs of women in Illinois.

Views on Abortion, 1995–2022. Source: Pew Research Center

Nor are his comments just talk. During his time in the Illinois House, he opposed the Reproductive Health Act and readily voted against it. The act, which was created in response to the death of Roe v. Wade, would repeal anti-abortion legislation that was on the books but remained inactive thanks to the late Roe ruling and required private insurance companies to support abortion access.

Bailey’s anti-abortion advocacy has also played into his antisemitic and far-right politics. Reporters uncovered a video of Bailey during his election campaign for the House in which he argued that abortion is worse than the holocaust. In the said video, Bailey said, “I believe that abortion is one of the greatest atrocities of our day, and I believe it’s one of the greatest atrocities probably forever…The attempted extermination of the Jews of World War II doesn’t even compare on a shadow of the life lost with abortion since its legalization.” Those remarks inevitably caused a backlash against him with the Anti-Defamation League, with the organization’s Midwest director, David Goldenberg, calling him out for the remarks, saying they were “shameful” and “unacceptable” and warning that the remarks do “an incredible disservice to the millions of Jews and others who were killed at the hands of the Nazis.”

Governor Pritzker, a Jewish man himself, was even blunter. Through his campaign press secretary, Eliza Glezer, Pritzker’s campaign denounced the statements, saying, “Darren Bailey’s disgusting assertion that a woman determining her own reproductive future is worse than the Nazis’ genocide of six million Jews is offensive to Illinoisans everywhere…With violent antisemitism on the rise and in the wake of a massacre against the predominately Jewish Highland Park, Bailey must answer for his hateful comments.” According to Pew Research Center, it is especially horrific to make those comments when considering that American Jewish people generally support reproductive rights.

Jewish Opinion on abortion. Source: Pew Research Center

It is worth noting that Bailey may not have intended to have those views come off as antisemitism. He released a statement suggesting that it was merely about the life of the unborn — but at the same time, he never apologized for his statements. Whatever his intentions, the result of his ignorant statements is the abuse of the memory of all those who lost their lives in that horrid genocide.

Nor is that the first time Bailey made horrid and prejudicial comments about groups that don’t conform to his norms. Unearthed comments reported by the Daily Herald and Crain’s Chicago Business show that Bailey referred to Islam as “not a religion of peace,” a long-abused talking point by anti-Muslim zealots on the right. Moreover, he referred to a CPS decision to allow trans kids to go to the bathroom according to their gender identity as “sickness.”

While this article may seem like a rap sheet of all of this candidate’s worst takes, it is important to remember that Bailey is running for the highest executive office in the state. His policy statements, whether official or otherwise, reflect what his administration would be like if it were not for the Democratic control of the legislature. I could go on and on about his comments on Chicago and how he keeps calling it a hellhole, exposing a whole other facet of prejudice to deal with, but that is an issue for another article. If Illinois is to have a functioning government, it must avoid sending a far-right politico to the governor’s mansion. The people of Illinois should send Bailey packing.

Originally published September 26th, 2022 at https://uisobserver.com.

No Podcast This Week

Hi everyone,

Sadly there will not be a podcast this week due to technical issues with audacity. However, I have plans for an interview sometime next week that will be on the podcast, and I will release my content from this week around that same time. My apologies.

Stay tuned for further articles, reprints, and project updates! More to come!

Darren Bailey Should Not Be Governor

Bailey’s politics and past statements make him a horrible choice for Illinois

Darren Bailey smiling against a brick building. | Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons

The race for the governorship is in full swing, and the candidates, current Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Darren Bailey, are now readying to make their case to the people of Illinois. But with the new race, it is increasingly evident that Darren Bailey is not fit to serve in government. Throughout his time in politics and government, Bailey has proven himself entirely inadequate and irresponsible when in power. Through his rhetoric and prejudiced beliefs, Darren Bailey has weaponized the fires of hatred and ignorance within the public sphere.

Right off the bat, we must acknowledge the severity of Bailey’s beliefs on abortion. According to Pew Research Center, abortion rights have risen to the highest since 1995, with 61% of Americans supporting a woman’s right to choose whether or not to get an abortion in “all or most cases.” Despite that, Darren Baily is an avid opponent of abortion and advocates for a near-total ban on abortion, with only the mother’s life being an acceptable justification for a woman getting an abortion. That position alone makes Bailey’s candidacy radically opposed to the needs of women in Illinois.

Views on Abortion, 1995–2022. Source: Pew Research Center

Nor are his comments just talk. During his time in the Illinois House, he opposed the Reproductive Health Act and readily voted against it. The act, which was created in response to the death of Roe v. Wade, would repeal anti-abortion legislation that was on the books but remained inactive thanks to the late Roe ruling and required private insurance companies to support abortion access.

Bailey’s anti-abortion advocacy has also played into his antisemitic and far-right politics. Reporters uncovered a video of Bailey during his election campaign for the House in which he argued that abortion is worse than the holocaust. In the said video, Bailey said:

“I believe that abortion is one of the greatest atrocities of our day, and I believe it’s one of the greatest atrocities probably forever…The attempted extermination of the Jews of World War II doesn’t even compare on a shadow of the life lost with abortion since its legalization.” Those remarks inevitably caused a backlash against him with the Anti-Defamation League, with the organization’s Midwest director, David Goldenberg, calling him out for the remarks, saying they were “shameful” and “unacceptable” and warning that the remarks do “an incredible disservice to the millions of Jews and others who were killed at the hands of the Nazis.”

-Darren Bailey, 2017

Governor Pritzker, a Jewish man himself, was even blunter. Through his campaign press secretary, Eliza Glezer, Pritzker’s campaign denounced the statements, saying, “Darren Bailey’s disgusting assertion that a woman determining her own reproductive future is worse than the Nazis’ genocide of six million Jews is offensive to Illinoisans everywhere…With violent antisemitism on the rise and in the wake of a massacre against the predominately Jewish Highland Park, Bailey must answer for his hateful comments.” According to Pew Research Center, it is especially horrific to make those comments when considering that American Jewish people generally support reproductive rights.

Jewish Opinion on abortion. Source: Pew Research Center

It is worth noting that Bailey may not have intended to have those views come off as antisemitism. He released a statement suggesting that it was merely about the life of the unborn — but at the same time, he never apologized for his statements. Whatever his intentions, the result of his ignorant statements is the abuse of the memory of all those who lost their lives in that horrid genocide.

Nor is that the first time Bailey made horrid and prejudicial comments about groups that don’t conform to his norms. Unearthed comments reported by the Daily Herald and Crain’s Chicago Business show that Bailey referred to Islam as “not a religion of peace,” a long-abused talking point by anti-Muslim zealots on the right. Moreover, he referred to a CPS decision to allow trans kids to go to the bathroom according to their gender identity as “sickness.”

While this article may seem like a rap sheet of all of this candidate’s worst takes, it is important to remember that Bailey is running for the highest executive office in the state. His policy statements, whether official or otherwise, reflect what his administration would be like if it were not for the Democratic control of the legislature. I could go on and on about his comments on Chicago and how he keeps calling it a hellhole, exposing a whole other facet of prejudice to deal with, but that is an issue for another article. If Illinois is to have a functioning government, it must avoid sending a far-right politico to the governor’s mansion. The people of Illinois should send Bailey packing.

Originally published September 26th, 2022, at https://uisobserver.com.


The Right’s Attack on LGBTQ People is an Attack on America

They really aren’t hiding it

Greg Abbott by J Dimas, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

It seems like the old times have come back again. In a display of politically motivated panic, right-wing activists have dredged out old talking points that play on age-old prejudices, putting everyday Americans at risk. Using a vast array of old propagandists, the right has motivated its base to engage in what can only be described as a prejudiced onslaught against LGBTQ people.

It would be easier to believe that someone cast a spell and resurrected prejudiced spirits from a past long thought gone, but the reality is that the architects of prejudice and ignorance were never truly gone. Instead, they have been waiting in the dark, looking for an opportunity to strike and reinstitute restrictions on LGBTQ history and people whose story deserves to be told. While many Americans continue to support LGBTQ rights, Republican efforts to restrict or otherwise undermine those rights have come out in full swing.

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order that requires the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate any parent who provides gender-affirming care to their kids, referring to said care as “child abuse.” The accusation of abuse is in spite of studies showing that gender-affirming care is associated with decreased rates of depression and suicide. The basis for the executive order was Gov. Abbott’s own Attorney General, Ken Paxton, who released a legal opinion arguing that such treatment constituted abuse, despite no statute defining it as such.

In response, several scientists and legal scholars wrote a letter condemning Texas’ interpretation of the state code and lambasted the multitude of errors in the original opinion by Attorney General Paxton, describing the opinion as being “not grounded in reputable science” and “full of errors.” The report further noted that despite claims by Texas’ attorney general that trans youth were being subjected to surgery, current practice requires that said surgeries be performed during adulthood. A federal judge has since blocked the directive and the case could find its way to the Texas Supreme Court if Paxton’s appeal goes through. In the meantime, many families are left in the lurch.

Texas is not alone in its attempt to wipe LGBTQ people from public life. In Florida, Republican governor Ron DeSantis supported and signed House Bill 1557, more commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” into law. Under this bill, teachers are prohibited from encouraging conversations about “sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.” The wording of this act is intentionally vague, but the intention was made crystal clear in a tweet by Gov. DeSantis’s press secretary, Christina Pushaw, who said the act was supposed to protect children from “grooming.”

Republicans have long spread the idea that LGBTQ people and LGBTQ-friendly teaching is grooming, and similar themes have been used to push nearly 150 anti-LGTBQ bills, including orders like the ones in Florida and Texas. Nor are these attacks new. In the 1970s, anti-gay activists such as Anita Bryant used similar propaganda to encourage Miami voters to repeal a local ordinance that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation, establishing the “Save Our Children” movement. Her efforts were supported by conservative activist and religious leader Jerry Falwell Sr, who was infamous for his own bigotry against LGBTQ people.

These attacks do not come naturally or without prompting by Republican activists. Many of these same activists were contributing to a similar panic about Critical Race Theory (CRT) earlier this year and have been using frustrations over COVID-19 and school policy surrounding it to oppose a variety of subjects they deem inappropriate.

Christopher Rufo, an anti-CRT activist, and writer for the Manhattan Institute is one such man. Rufo has attempted to ban the so-called Critical Race Theory from public schools throughout his career and writing. Working with others such as James Lindsay and the Heritage Foundation, Rufo helped to create a backlash against the 2020 Summer protests of Black Lives Matter by restricting discussions of race in school. In one tweet thread, Rufo explained his objective with the CRT panic, saying: “The goal is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think ‘critical race theory…”

And now, he has applied that same approach to LGBTQ rights. Earlier this year, Rufo stood with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as he signed another bill intended to restrict discussions about privilege in the workplace. He has also repeatedly used grooming as a weapon against LGBTQ people, particularly when it comes to educational materials about LGBTQ rights.

Using the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal as his weapon, Rufo has ramped up a panic about LGBTQ groomers and rapists that is reminiscent of the 1970s, with familiar allies like James Lindsay doing his part as well.

In a brief article attempting to defend his claims of grooming, Rufo pointed to a 2004 Department of Education report, which examined a 2000 survey of 2,065 children from grades 8 through 11. Using this data, the report claimed that nearly 10% of the children were victims of abuse. Rufo took that rate and then claimed that as many as 4.5 million children were suffering abuse at the hands of public officials. To Rufo, this puts the so-called “grooming” problem at a rate nearly “100 times greater than the physical abuse committed by Catholic priests, who, at the time the report was published, were undergoing a reckoning for the crimes within their ranks.”

The problem with this report, aside from its incredibly small sample size, is that it is not representative of the population and assumes a constant rate of abuse. It also does not mention LGBTQ people at all. Rufo may have also misquoted Charol Shakeshaft, the Hofstra University professor who wrote the report.

Rufo has also extended this panic to Disney, accusing it of being full of groomers after it criticized the Don’t Say Gay bill, which Rufo supported. Rufo, along with DeSantis and other supporters of the bill, have latched onto this claim and used it to justify pulling Disney’s special tax status when its employees criticized the company’s initial hesitance to oppose DeSantis’ agenda. Even private businesses are not able to speak their minds, no matter how tepid their opposition is.

This panic may seem odd at first. Public support for LGBTQ people continues to rise, but it makes sense when you consider who Rufo associates with and what they seek to do with the public school system. In a speech at Hillsdale College, Rufo was recorded saying: “in order to achieve universal school choice, it’s necessary to create an atmosphere of universal public-school distrust.”

It is this distrust, this historically grounded prejudice, and a desire for austerity that appears to be the central focus of GOP operations. To operatives like Rufo and leaders like DeSantis and Abbott, the opportunity to destroy public institutions via prejudicial propaganda is too much to ignore. If this is allowed to continue, Republicans will almost certainly use what power they gain in the midterms to attack public education, protections for LGBTQ youth and employees, and much more.

Nobody should be surprised by the cacophony of nonsense that comes from these activists; they have it in their best interest to lie. It does not matter who gets hurt or whose kids are taken from them, the only thing these Republicans care about is power. And unless something is done, they will get it.

Originally published May 13th, 2022 at https://uisobserver.com.

Talking Christian Nationalism with NateTalksToYou

In this discussion, I talk with video essayist and YouTuber, NateTalksToYou, on the issue of Christian Nationalism in America. Though somewhat disturbed by a horrible storm, I am eternally grateful to have Nate on the show, and I look forward to having him on future episodes.

The Continuing Sexism of Matt Walsh

The right-wing blogger’s tendency to enforce so-called traditional gender roles is littered with misogyny and hatred.

Matt Walsh by Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

To say that politics has become a mess is a massive understatement. For those who repeat such a statement, most would likely respond by saying, “have you been living under a rock?” And rightly so. For the last several years, every prejudice under the sun has resurfaced and has been treated with a level of respect that would make any decent person sick. And nobody embodies that more so than Matt Walsh.

For those who are fortunate enough to be unfamiliar with him, Matt Walsh is a right-wing contributor to Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire and the host of the aptly named Matt Walsh Show. But more than that, Walsh is a notorious sexist and so-called traditional Catholic who regularly endorses the worst elements of machismo politics. Throughout his time as a commentator, his work has been a non-stop exercise in hatred and prejudice.

From the very beginning, Walsh has embraced the worst elements of modern media. In 2013, he wrote a horrendously named article titled Your Husband Doesn’t Have to Earn Your Respect.’ In it, Walsh argues that men have been emasculated by sitcoms, double standards, and the supposed domineering presence of women at home. The evidence he provides is scant and, in the case of an alleged incident of a wife embarrassing her husband publicly, anecdotal. But Walsh doesn’t let the scant evidence stop him. Instead, Walsh argued that women are not giving men their due respect in relationships.

According to the Department of Justice, one-in-four women will suffer domestic abuse from a partner compared to one-in-nine men, so it is peculiar that violence against women is not brought up as a threat to the respectability of marriage in Walsh’s article.

The solution he provides is that men are entitled to respect for the sake of the marriage even when “he doesn’t deserve it.” Of course, Walsh is not so foolish to argue the more blunt “women should defer to their husband” trope, as that would be political suicide. But the underlying theme of women being responsible for respecting the man when he refuses to do the same remains.

Far be it from me to argue that women should not respect their spouses, but respect is a two-way street. Anything less nullifies that actual value of the relationship. A woman in a relationship with an unruly and disrespectful husband should have no more an obligation to accept that than a man should if the roles were reversed.

I am sure Walsh would object to the argument, saying that he never stated such a position. But the fact that he singled out women as being inherently more disrespectful in marriage than their male counterparts when women are subjected to far more intimate-personal violence suggests otherwise. If someone says they don’t have a preference for one gender over the other but simultaneously holds one as more culpable for relationship problems than other when there is clear evidence against that position, then it is not unreasonable to disregard that statement.

In other words, don’t let Walsh tell you who he is; let him show you.

Nor is this article the first example of a bias against women. In a Facebook post from 2014, Walsh complained about a pastor for her participation in a film called Sex Box. Normally, opposition to a pastor being involved in such a film would come from some sense of piety, and while Walsh certainly did object to the film itself, he seemingly couldn’t resist the urge to suggest that women can’t be pastors, even though not all pastors belong to the Catholic Church or its traditions of a male-only priesthood.

Full post linked here

It seems that Walsh can’t help but object to women in any authoritative position. Walsh has also argued that women in the police should not be allowed out on patrol, arguing that they can easily be overpowered, more so than their male colleagues.

This gendered thinking is, like most of his commentary, off-base. Policing, despite its many problems, is not restricted to physical strength. Part of a police officer’s job is handling disputes, de-escalating conflict, and subduing suspects. In some cases, police are also responsible for handling abuse victims, wherever they may be. And on that front, women officers tend to be more receptive to the victim’s concerns than male officers, likely due to gendered norms influencing their attitudes.

Additional studies have shown that women are also less likely to receive complaints than their male officers. Putting physical strength as the sole barometer for success for a patrolling officer is narrow thinking and limits the ability of law enforcement to effectively manage their many duties, all in the name of outdated and prejudiced norms.

Perhaps more bluntly, Walsh has also gone out of his way to attack South Dakota’s Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, saying that Noem was her refusal to stop businesses from enforcing mask mandates on their property before arguing that she was “an attractive woman” and that was the only reason she got support from members of the right for a possible campaign in 2024.

How’s that for mutual respect between the sexes?

None of this is surprising to anyone, but it is important to remember who and what Matt Walsh is. Whether or not we like it, it is critical to remember who and what the right seeks to promote, and so long as Walsh is a part of that package, the right will remain a hostile place for women in society at large and in government.

Polio is in New York: Thanks, Anti-Vaxxers

Years of opposition to basic public health measures have come back to hurt innocent people.

Photo by FRANK MERIÑO from Pexels

Few things in this world make me as angry as anti-vaxxers. The movement, though centuries old, has taken on a new dimension with the modern era that can only be described as arrogant ignorance. That ignorance proliferated and maintained by hacks like Del Bigtree, Andrew Wakefield and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has had horrific consequences as New York found out earlier this Friday, as reports showed that Polio, long thought eradicated, has been found in the wastewater of the city.

And all I can say is “thank you!” Thanks, anti-vaxxers. Your blind faith in hucksters and anti-science advocates who don’t care about you or your children has done what nature could not—bring back a deadly disease that destroyed the lives of thousands of Americans who, before vaccines, could only pray for mercy. What an accomplishment!

It doesn’t matter that Andrew Wakefield lied about his research and was trying to sell his own vaccine. Or that he falsified his patients’ medical histories. No, of course not. You had it all figured out; the doctors were lying, and the media was all in a cabal to force your kids to get autism. Never mind the horrific attitude towards Autistic children that such a statement implies. The anti-vaxx bloggers and amateur scientists will solve all of your problems! Don’t forget to donate to the substandard blogger’s bank account!

It didn’t matter that anti-vaccine activists preyed on Somali-Americans in Minnesota or that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. compared mandatory vaccination, which was largely not applied during Covid-19, to the Holocaust.

It didn’t matter that Del Bigtree, a pseudo-scientific documentarian, did the same thing by planting a Star of David on his chest in a rally before a litany of supporters.

All of this is to say that the anti-vaccine movement and its many propagandists had multiple opportunities to change course. Numerous red flags to acknowledge and act upon, but they never did.

Instead, low vaccination rates and an increasingly conspiratorial mindset among the populace have put the entire enterprise of the last several decades to the wayside. Make no mistake, public health officials will have to fight tooth and nail to protect people from a disease that some of us don’t acknowledge, and innocent people will suffer.

This is the cost of spreading anti-vaccine propaganda; unless there is some mechanism to crack down on it, we will all pay the price.

Susan Collins Botches ‘Hot Take’ on Trump Search

She has a habit of botching the moment, so this isn’t surprising.

Susan Collins by Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The recent search into Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago has provoked many unique takes, with many being understanding and reasonable and others being the exact opposite. But as always, Susan Collins (R-ME) is here to give us the most tepid and equivocating opinion on the issue. Her take, though misinformed, is no less disgusting when one considers the severity of the allegations against Trump. Especially when one considers the recent allegations that Trump had nuclear documents at Mar-a-Lago.

In a recent interview with NBC’s Maine affiliate, NEWSCENTERMaine, the Senator argued that if the search was just to seek documents illegally held by the former president, then a search was heavy-handed and unnecessary.

This argument aged like spoiled milk with the aforementioned report by the Washington Post, but it is even more frustrating when considering the nature of the search.

While it is unprecedented for a former president to have his home searched, it is not inherently incorrect solely because it breaks tradition. If a president is facing such a search, the first reaction should not be outrage but curiosity.

As I explained in one of my recent posts on the issue, if a president is being searched with a warrant, then chances are that a judge was presented with extensive evidence to support the need for a search. No judge worth their salt would risk their careers breaking tradition like this unless they had strong evidence to suggest it was necessary. Questioning why a search was necessary is one thing, but those questions should lead to an informed conclusion, not ignorant condemnation.

Senator Collins could have easily looked into Trump’s own legal record from his presidency and seen that he signed a bill making holding such documents illegally a felony, which would easily explain why the DOJ felt it was necessary to search Trump’s home.

You can read the law here.

All of this is to say that Susan Collins had every opportunity to understand the nature of the investigation and could have held off before seeking to condemn it without any basis to do so. Her work, insofar as one can call it work, has been nothing but unprincipled equivocation and lies.

I understand that Senator Collins has to play a more moderate tone due to her states’ political streak, but sometimes the people don’t need a representative; they need a leader. And Susan Collins is not that person, and she never will be.

It Got Worse: Trump Searched For Nuclear Records

This is not an article I thought I would write.

Image provided by Wiki Commons

This is not an article I ever thought I would have to write, but here we are. As my readers will know, I wrote an article earlier this week detailing how the recent search and seizure of Mar-a-Lago was important. However, I never imagined that the issue of nuclear weapons would be a part of this investigation. And yet, the Washington Post reported just that this afternoon, showing that the FBI was searching Trump’s Florida home for documents related to nuclear weapons.

Yes, you read that right. The FBI was looking into whether or not the former president was illegally handling sensitive information involving nuclear weapons.

I wish I could say this was a fantasy world, but considering the multiple news organizations that have confirmed it, it seems like this horrifying reality is, in fact, real. Of course, some will argue this is propaganda, but the idea that any one of these news outlets would risk their credibility or a lawsuit over an allegation such as this when there is such a high level of investment in the case is absurd.

There is, of course, the issue of Trump himself. He has already denied the allegations, calling the allegation “sleazy, on his social media site Truth Social.

Screenshot taken from Trump’s Truth Social Account by Conor Kelly

That denial will undoubtedly ensure that conservatives will attack the allegations against Trump, no matter how much evidence journalists find or how much the Department of Justice brings up against him. Instead, they will likely repeat Trump’s unending grievances as much as they can. But that isn’t new.

What matters here is that the Post found evidence that they felt was strong enough to run an exclusive and put it on the front page of their website. Said report comes in the middle of one of the most historic investigations in American political history, putting their reporting front and center in the public’s mind, meaning the burden of proof would have to exceed the standard that goes into most reporting.

Screenshot of top stories on the Washington Post Website by Conor Kelly

While the report itself does not state whether or not the content concerned American nuclear weapons or other powers’ weapons, the fact that law enforcement was looking at all suggests that the former president and his allies were not as open with the documents they had as previously thought. More importantly, they seemingly didn’t care about the sensitive nature of the documents they had on hand. If true, then Trump is not only in trouble for abusing government records that don’t belong to him but could also run into serious trouble for handling content that threatens national security.

Whatever happens, Trump’s legacy will almost certainly be tainted by this, and his chances of running for public office may be in even more danger. We certainly live in interesting times.

Why The Raid on Trump’s House Matters

They are going to keep lying.

Image by Ralf Genge from Pixabay

In a rare example of good news, the former president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, had his Florida home raided by the FBI. The news that the investigative agency searched and confiscated materials from Trump’s house under a warrant is a blessing in a normally horrific news cycle. And most importantly, it reveals how far federal law enforcement is willing to go with their case against the former president and how far Republicans are willing to go to defend a corrupt oligarch.

HOW REPUBLICANS REACTED

Needless to say, Republicans are not having a good time with the news. Many took to Twitter later that night to decry what they saw as an attack on their beloved president. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy went so far as to tweet that the investigation was a blatant political attack on Republicans and Trump, arguing that they should investigate the FBI once in power.

Others attempted to terrify their base, seemingly suggesting that the FBI had somehow violated Trump’s rights with the raid. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) tweeted her own statement, arguing that if the FBI could raid a president’s home, they could raid anyone, seemingly forgetting that the FBI already can do that if they get a warrant.

All this pearl-clutching by Republican leadership is remarkable since the same Republican Party has consistently made itself into the symbolic power of law and order. Trump himself used the phrase consistently throughout his presidency.

Despite that consistent branding, Republicans have seemingly forgotten what the law says regarding this investigation. After all, Trump is accused of violating 44 USC §§ 22012209, more commonly known as the Presidential Records Act. Under this act, all presidential materials are public property and must be turned over to the National Archives once the president’s time in office ends.

Trump repeatedly failed to provide documents to the archives, and some had to be removed from Mar-A-Lago by the National Archives earlier this year. Some of the documents were reported to be highly classified. In other words, Trump was found to have violated the act without any serious punishment, only for the FBI to come back and seek further evidence of wrong-doing.

WHY THIS MATTERS

It is easy to celebrate and assume that this will guarantee some sort of legal victory over Trump. And believe me, I celebrated. However, assuming victory before seeing charges is a mistake and will only cause more disappointment.

It is critical to keep our attention on countering propaganda about the investigation against Trump and those around him. Republicans will do everything in their power to misrepresent and downplay the investigation’s significance, and that can’t go without a backlash.

Even now, Trump faces yet another legal challenge from New York Attorney General Letitia James, who plans to depose him this week. If the pattern of Republican outrage holds true here, we can expect to see the same victim narrative. Said narrative must never get an ounce of legitimacy. Holding Trump to account means defeating his lies.