31 May 2024

Letter from the Editor: Trump guilty verdict delivers ray of hope in divided country

| Jen White
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Red hand stop signal outside Trump building.

Will Donald Trump’s guilty verdict stop him from regaining the presidency? It’s America, so who knows. Photo: 400tmax.

Twelve normal, everyday people have managed to convince me that there is a tiny sliver of hope for the future of the United States – maybe.

These 12 New Yorkers deserve medals, at the very least. Unless you’re a Donald Trump supporter, in which case, a pox on their house.

Of course I’m talking about the jury which sat for six weeks yet took just 11 hours to find the former US president, and potential future president, guilty of falsifying business records to cover up an affair with a porn star. Guilty of all 34 counts he faced.

The verdict means Trump becomes the first former US president in history to be criminally convicted.

The experts are saying he probably won’t go to jail for his crimes, which the New York legal system considers to be in the least serious category.

But what staggers me beyond belief is that even if he does end up behind bars, he could still be elected president of what is regarded as the most powerful country on the planet.

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According to the US Constitution, if you want to run for president you must be a natural-born citizen of the US, be at least 35 years old and have been a resident of the US for 14 years. Clearly you also need a zillion dollars, but no probs if you have a criminal record.

So in theory, Trump could be sworn in from jail on Inauguration Day, 20 January 2025, if he were to unseat President Joe Biden.

I don’t have a lot of interest (or trust) in American politics, especially when the two presidential contenders are a 77-year-old now criminal white man and an 81-year-old white man who looks like he should be enjoying retirement in the Florida sun.

Although I admit I was pretty excited when our 2016 trip to Hawaii just happened to coincide with the American elections. As a journo I expected I’d be witnessing firsthand how the American democratic process rolled out and I imagined having passionate conversations with Democrats and Republicans alike.

The reality? The 50th American state couldn’t give a toss about the election. We sat in a popular bar as the count was rolling in and of the 20-odd TV screens showing every possible sport, only a couple were covering the election. Turns out the rest of the world was far more shocked that a TV reality “star” was the new president.

And we now know he was part of a hush money scheme that influenced the outcome of that election.

I find his politics and beliefs distasteful, racist, misogynistic and often downright repulsive.

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Every time he opens his mouth I can only shake my head at what comes out. Yet I have had conversations with educated, intelligent Americans (and Australians) who applaud every one of those words, who will not hear a word against the man and have an answer for any criticism directed at him.

It’s also a worry how his supporters will react to yesterday’s (31 May) guilty finding, considering how he managed to fire them up after the 2020 election outcome, when five people were killed and hundreds more injured in the attack on the US Capitol.

His predictable response to the court outcome was to lob more troubling vitriol which will only add fuel to the fire.

“This was a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who is corrupt.”

“I am a very innocent man.”

“We’ll keep fighting. We’ll fight till the end, and we’ll win because our country’s gone to hell. We don’t have the same country anymore. We have a divided mess. We’re a nation in decline, serious decline, millions and millions of people pouring into our country right now from prisons and from mental institutions, terrorists, and they’re taking over our country. We have a country that’s in big trouble.”

If Donald Trump regains the presidency in November, I fear the country will be facing more than just “big trouble”.

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