HUMAN EVENTS: The Left will destroy itself trying to destroy Trump

In Robert Bolt’s iconic play A Man For All Seasons, the protagonist, St. Thomas More, asks William Roper, “What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the devil?” Roper responds enthusiastically, “Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!” More’s response is deservedly quoted everywhere:

“Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?”

There has perhaps been no better time to recall these words than now, when Democrats have apparently decided that they are willing to cut down every law in the United States to get their “devil” of choice: Donald Trump. The most recent evidence of this is the absurdly large $350 million verdict against Trump in New York City by Judge Arthur Engoron.

Human Events contributor Vox Clamantis has already pointed out that the decision resembles medieval justice – or even Soviet “justice” – more than anything recognizably American, and so it does. Jacqueline Toboroff writes that the decision is part of a pattern showing Democrats as determined to destroy Trump as Vladimir Putin was to destroy Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, and so it is. Rehearsing the flaws of this absurd bit of #Resistance theater masquerading as a legal opinion, which persecutes Trump for a non-crime with no victim and then charges him more simply for not saying he’s sorry like a good boy, is redundant by now. However, what is not redundant is pointing something out that Thomas More (by way of Robert Bolt) correctly asked his day’s zealots: can today’s Leftist zealots really stand upright in the ensuing wind?

That’s not an idle question. Thanks to the wise decision by the Founding Fathers to ban so-called “bills of attainder” (IE laws explicitly targeted at a single individual), no legal decision exists in isolation. All decisions of this kind are precedents: precedents which, if applied to one, also apply to others.

Which is why you see responses to this verdict from the likes of famous investor Kevin O’Leary, who told Fox’s Neil Cavuto, “Every investor is very worried, because where is the victim? Who lost money? This is an arbitrary decision a judge made, this policy, what does this say about the bar, the legal bar in New York? Aren't they going to question this judge? What is this? $355 million as a penalty and plus interest at 9% and no victim? I mean, I'm sorry, [NY Gov. Hochul's] words fall on deaf ears to everybody, there's nothing she can say to justify this decision. It has nothing to do with Trump, forget about Trump, this is not a Trump situation, this is a New York problem now the whole world is looking at this, saying what are you doing to yourselves?”

O’Leary’s warning has not fallen on deaf ears. New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, has already begun frantically trying to downplay the decision. Her reasoning is not reassuring.

“I think that this is really an extraordinary, unusual circumstance that the law-abiding and rule-following New Yorkers who are business people have nothing to worry about, because they’re very different than Donald Trump and his behavior,” Hochul said. “By and large, [business owners] are honest people, and they’re not trying to hide their assets, and they’re following the rules.”

This is an extraordinary statement, mostly because of its comical insufficiency. First of all, the number of weasel words in it could fill an entire zoo. We’d be surprised if even the average bodega owner in New York is a completely “law-abiding and rule-following New Yorker,” not due to criminality, but simply due to how confusing the law in New York is. As just one example, even the New York State Bar Association seems confused about the law surrounding firing employees for out-of-office political speech. If the organization which credentials lawyers in the state isn’t sure about an issue that big, then how can any business owner know for sure if they’re a “law-abiding and rule-following New Yorker?” And that’s not even touching on the question of how many of those laws are even constitutional.

But unlike Arthur Engoron, we’ll be generous and assume that such a thing as a “law-abiding and rule-following New Yorker who is a businessperson” exists in the wild. Hochul’s message to those people is, essentially, “Don’t worry, we know you’re honest people, unlike Donald Trump.”

First of all, how can Hochul know about that other businesspeople in her state are honest? She can’t. How do we know? Because if you assume Engoron’s verdict is correct (again, wildly overgenerous, but we’ll accept it for the sake of argument), then Trump’s business empire was allowed to operate for decades in New York City without anyone so much as batting an eye until Trump became an enemy of the local political machine. If that happened, then there is no way on earth that Hochul can state with confidence that she knows how many businesses in New York are completely honest brokers, let alone that all of them except Trump are. It’s absurd.

We don’t bring this up to be pedantic. It’s important for understanding the second, and most vital point, which is that once you cut through the disingenuous weasel words and flattery, both of which are completely detached from reality, Hochul’s reasoning amounts to, “Don’t worry, we won’t go after you. You’re not Donald Trump.”

Fair enough. Only Donald Trump is Donald Trump. But why was Donald Trump targeted? Obviously, because he is a political enemy of Hochul and her party. Which naturally leads to the question: what if you voted for Donald Trump? What if you gave him money? What then? Will Hochul seek to punish anyone and everyone who might be a Trump ally? If not, why not, given her evident belief that Trump is a fraudster? Will every business that works in New York have to monitor its employees to make sure none of them give to the wrong political party, for fear of touching off a victimless inquisition from the Commissar-esque State Attorney General? Saying “you’re not Donald Trump so you have nothing to worry about” is about as reassuring, in other words, as the Stasi saying “you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide.”

And look, while we love driving trucks through the holes in Kathy Hochul’s arguments, this is not really about her, or at least not only about her. The American Left has, in the past few years, followed torturous, authoritarian interpretations of the law, which would, if applied consistently, result in the extinction of practically all politics.

They have tried to argue that any president who violates the “interagency consensus” must be impeached, even though this would subject any Leftist president to removal by a less Leftist civil service.

They have tried to argue that any protest which disrupts official government proceedings is an “insurrection” which would bar the culprit from holding office, even though this would cut off huge numbers of their own activists who participated in the so-called 2020 “summer of love.”

They have tried to criminalize public protestations of innocence as “obstruction of justice,” even though this would essentially criminalize the very existence of the Defense bar.

And now, they have decided that a business can be persecuted by a state government – and fined to the point of ruination – even if that business has done nothing to harm its investors or customers.

Which raises the obvious question: is it any wonder that people like Kevin O’Leary are starting to get nervous about doing business in blue states, not necessarily because they are liberal, but because today’s Left are so anxious to warp the law every which way to get whoever the villain of the day on MSNBC is, that they will abandon any principle, even liberal ones? Is it any wonder that businesses – including Wall Street Banks – are fleeing the bluest states in the union? This is the fruit of cutting down the law to get Trump, or white cis men, or whoever the Left’s mental illness industrial complex decides to hate: no business owner, and no informed citizen, wants to have their rights and obligations subject to the question of whether an entire political party has gone off its meds. It wasn’t so long ago that “Woke Capital” was a real fear on the Right, but that alliance only worked when wokeness left capital alone on all but the most performative issues. Now, woke hatred for its targets is driving the wedge which conservatives fervently prayed would exist.

In short, in the name of a momentary high from “getting Trump,” the Left is turning the states it controls into miserable husks which bleed capital and people. Not, of course, that we expect the Left to care: it’s been obvious for some time that they resent the idea that they should have to coexist with anyone who doesn’t already agree with their entire catechism (and doesn’t seamlessly change their opinions along whenever that catechism does). But the people who live in their states might care, and more importantly, we somehow doubt the Democratic party want to confront an America where the only people left in their electoral strongholds are the residents of Park Slope and San Francisco: not exactly the stuff of large amounts of electoral votes, that. We don’t mind the Left destroying themselves, of course, but we do mind them destroying great states with proud histories in the process. We only hope that the actual “rule-following, law-abiding people” in those states decide to stand up and say “enough” before they are all forced into exile.


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