The latest indictment of former President Donald Trump is even more outlandish than Jack Smith’s blatant attempt to criminalize free speech. The indictment Monday out of Fulton County, Georgia, criminalizes mundane activities like asking for a phone number, texting, encouraging people to watch a televised hearing, and reserving a room at the Georgia capitol.
These activities, according to Georgia prosecutor Fani Willis, run afoul of the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute. As far as Willis is concerned, Trump’s legal efforts to challenge the election results in Georgia amounted to a criminal conspiracy, with Trump as the criminal mastermind. What that means, outlandishly, is that every phone call or tweet related to those legal efforts, every step Trump and his team took to press their legal case, counts as “an overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy.”
This is of course crazy. As more than a few people have noted since the charges dropped, according to Willis’ standard every major Democrat should be in prison on racketeering charges — including Hillary Clinton but especially Stacey Abrams, who has made a career out of denying that she lost the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election.
So yes, the hypocrisy is stupendous and blatant. But let me suggest that decrying the hypocrisy here is a loser’s game. What you see in these anti-Trump indictments is not hypocrisy, it’s hierarchy. We all became familiar with this concept during the Covid pandemic. Gathering for church, even outside, was against the law, but mass rioting in the streets was OK — so long as you were rioting for racial justice. Ordinary people had to let their elderly loved ones die alone and were not even allowed to bury them, yet thousands attended the funeral and memorial services for secular saint George Floyd.
Perhaps nothing better captured the hierarchy-not-hypocrisy concept than a photo of Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at the annual Met Gala in September 2021 wearing a white gown with “tax the rich” scrawled on its backside. Set aside the idiocy of the stunt itself. In the photo, AOC isn’t wearing a face mask, but the woman helping her with her gown is. What AOC was displaying for the public was hierarchy.
As my colleague Eddie Scarry wrote at the time, “This is simply another example of those in power, those running our most influential cultural and political institutions, sending a message: There’s a new social hierarchy in America. And this one isn’t about what you can afford to do, it’s about what you’re allowed to do.”
The same analysis applies to the raft of indictments against Trump, whose post-2020 denunciations of the election are no different than those of Clinton in 2016 or most Democrats in 2000 and 2004. Democrats are allowed to question the results of an election, Republicans are not. That’s not hypocrisy, it’s hierarchy.
Once you understand this, you begin to recognize it everywhere. Antifa thugs and BLM rioters were allowed to trash entire city blocks, torch police stations, take over neighborhoods, besiege federal courthouses — and do so with the blessing and encouragement, at times even with the complicity, of elected Democrat Party leaders. But every granny that set foot within a mile of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 had better brace for a federal indictment if they haven’t already been charged.
The same goes for teachers who push transgender ideology and critical race theory on students versus the parents who object to these things being taught behind their backs. The former are courageous leaders, the latter are potential domestic terrorists, at least according to the Biden Justice Department. Ditto for the media’s treatment of the Trump family business versus the Biden family business. None of this is hypocrisy, it’s hierarchy. The left is trying to tell you something, which is that they have all the power and you have none.
The essayist N.S. Lyons (a pseudonym) put it well in a piece last August, describing the futile efforts of Team B to call out the hypocrisy of Team A:
You see, it’s possible you are under the misapprehension that you are not supposed to notice what you described as the “double-standard” in acceptable behavior between Team A and Team B. And that you think if you point out this double-standard, you are foiling the other team’s plot and holding them accountable. This might be because, in your mind, you are still in high school debate club, where if you finger your opponent for having violated the evenly-applied rules a neutral arbiter of acceptable behavior will recognize this unfairness and penalize them with demerits.
Except in reality you are not holding Team A accountable, and in fact are notably never able to hold them accountable for anything at all. Even though Team A gets to hold you accountable for everything and anything whenever they want. This is because unfortunately there is no neutral arbiter listening to your whining. In fact, currently the only arbiter is Team A, because Team A has consolidated all the power to decide the rules, and to enforce or not enforce those rules as they see fit.
With each new Trump indictment, the left’s strategy becomes increasingly clear. It isn’t to bring real criminal charges based on actual violations of the law, or to see justice applied equally and fairly even to a powerful person like Trump. The strategy is to demonstrate power and thereby humiliate and discourage Trump supporters by showing them how powerless they are.
Another aspect of this strategy, as James Lindsay explained in a Twitter thread Tuesday, is to provoke the right into reacting. This is what Lindsay calls “leftist dialectical political warfare,” or, in Trump’s case, “Operation Poke the Bear.” The purpose of such warfare, says Lindsay, is to provoke a reaction that would justify the further consolidation of power on the left.
So expect to see more “hypocrisy” — even lazy and objectively embarrassing hypocrisy of the kind we saw this week in the Georgia indictment. It doesn’t matter how laughable or outlandish the charges against Trump are, because prosecuting actual crimes and upholding the law have nothing to do with any of this.
This is about power — who has it, and who doesn’t. The people at the top are trying to tell you, the masses under them, that they can do whatever they want to you, at any time, and there’s nothing you can do to fight back. Just look what they’re doing to Trump, a former president. If they can do that to him, imagine what they can do to you.