Column: The people versus Trumpism


Photo credit: Charlotte Tragos

The congressional building is quiet months after Jan. 6. The insurrection occurred after Trump supporters stormed the capitol.

By Charlotte Tragos, Columnist

Before Jan. 6, before Biden, before impeachment number two, I asked Joseph R. Grodin, former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California and current professor at UC Hastings College of Law, what former president Donald Trump would need to do to be tried, impeached or prosecuted for violating the law. The answer at the time was to let him be tried by the democratic process. We are faced with a challenge of similarly unconstitutional lawmakers and offered the same solution: vote them out.

Last year, in an effort to rile up his base, Trump made “law and order” a key theme of the Republican National Convention. The organizers violated The Hatch Act which prohibits federal workers from engaging in certain political activities while in office or on government property. During the convention, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the nation from a rooftop in Jerusalem while on an official diplomatic trip. Vice President Mike Pence spoke to supporters from Fort McHenry. The first lady delivered her remarks from the newly remodeled roseless garden. Former President Trump accepted the Republican nomination from the south lawn of the people’s house to a largely unmasked audience of 1,500 supporters.

I asked Grodin about the Trump administration’s apparent violations of the Hatch Act.

“There’s been a lot of talk about how the President is violating the Hatch Act by holding political activity on public property and there is an interpretation of the statute that would prohibit that, but there’s no definitive ruling and it seems unlikely that there is going to be,” Grodin said.

More recently, the Jan. 6 insurrection offered another opportunity for Republican lawmakers to break the law. With six participating in the insurrection, and members of congress allegedly giving tours to insurrectionists before the fated day, justice seems again equally unachievable. There is truly similarly no precedent to try lawmakers.

When asked about the remedy to unjust democracy, Grodin described the civic process.

“This is one of those things,” Grodin said, “Where the remedy for violation in all practical purposes is the political process. The best you can do if you’re eighteen is to go out and vote, and if you’re not eighteen, to encourage people who are eighteen to go out and vote.”

The 2022 election is coming up, the political future of lawmakers that refuse to accept democratic results is up for grabs. I’m talking to friends and family. I’m trying to listen with understanding to those who think their vote doesn’t matter, but to persuade them that it absolutely does matter. I hope you will do the same.

This may be our last hope to salvage our increasingly fragile democracy.