What happens if a prosecutor charges Trump and he is convicted just as he is cruising to the G.O.P. nomination or maybe even the presidency? What happens if the legal system, using its criteria, decides Trump should go to prison at the very moment that the electoral system, using its criteria, decides he should go to the White House?
I presume in those circumstances Trump would be arrested and imprisoned. I also presume we would see widespread political violence from incensed Trump voters who would conclude that the Regime has stolen the country. In my view, this is the most likely path to a complete democratic breakdown.
In theory, justice is blind, and obviously no person can be above the law. But as Damon Linker wrote in a Substack post, “This is a polity, not a graduate seminar in Kantian ethics.” We live in a specific real-world situation, and we all have to take responsibility for the real-world effects of our actions.
America absolutely needs to punish those who commit crimes. On the other hand, America absolutely needs to make sure that Trump does not get another term as president. What do we do if the former makes the latter more likely? I have no clue how to get out of this potential conflict between our legal and political realities.