Why the Trump Rape Trial Now Looks More IMPORTANT to Me Than It Did

This piece ran in newspapers in early May, 2023.


Besides my newspaper op/eds, the other major platform I have these days for my writing is the liberal website, Daily Kos. DK is a surprisingly excellent community forum for the discussion of many things, but especially the political battles of our times.

I am glad to be a part of that high quality community-conversation.

I have my frustrations as well, as I regard my most valuable contribution to be my BETTER HUMAN STORY – a big picture version of the various forces at work in human civilization. But my Big Picture ideas tend to be ignored.

When my ideas get appreciated, they’re usually about the immediate, the concrete, the topics in the news that people are already thinking about. (Especially those people who feel deeply engaged in the battle to see what kind of power will be at the helm of our nation, and what direction America will go from here.)

On Friday, April 28, there fleshed through my mind a thought that struck me as worth sharing. It took probably no more than 15 minutes for me to dash it off and post it on the Daily Kos site. Almost immediately, this piece began getting a much stronger response than my usual offerings.

Clearly, the title alone had attracted the attention of this audience: “Why the Trump Rape Trial Now Looks More IMPORTANT to me than it Did.” Very topical. And very visceral.

The piece soon climbed to be my first ever elevated by the site to the site’s # 1 position, with over 600 “Recommends.”

I’d like to say that what excited that audience was the notion that what was being shown in that New York courtroom would awaken a lot of decent and intelligent conservatives to the true, ugly nature of the man – and the Party that does his bidding – they have been supporting.

But I don’t think that’s what it is. Regrettably, at this point, Liberal America doesn’t seem to harbor hopes that Conservative America will see any kind of “light” and put “the better angels of their nature” in charge of their politics. (I feel somewhat alone in that yearning for some awakening and transformation.)

Rather, it seemed that the Daily Kos readership, while writing off Conservative America, took heart from the hope that maybe Swing Voters – people not truly members of the Cult of Trump – might be moved by what Trump’s Rape Trial reveals. Reveals at a basic human level, a level that requires no abstraction of thought to see the evil, a level more basic by far than something like an attempt to overthrow America’s constitutional order.

Here’s that piece:

I’ve always been sympathetic to E. Jean Carroll’s wanting to hold Trump accountable for what – it seems clear — he did to her.

But compared to Trump’s assault on American democracy throughout his presidency, what Trump did with women — before he was President, when he was just a creep in the “private sector” — has seemed a secondary matter.

Keeping my eyes on the prize, I’ve felt that what’s important about the Rule of Law holding Trump accountable for his crimes is that Trump be stripped of his power to inflict fundamental damage on the nation.

But now I’m seeing how this Rape Trial can play an important role in doing just that.

The reports of Ms. Carroll’s testimony show her to be a most impressive witness, about as powerful and credible a witness as anyone might have scripted. The reports depict a sympathetic and entirely believable white middle-class woman presenting to the nation a picture of Trump that conveys vividly what a monster Donald Trump is.

Anyone, admittedly, should be able to see Trump’s monstrousness displayed in all his other crimes: his sacrificing American security by extorting Ukraine, his using his pardon powers to free his accomplices, his attempted coup, his treatment of Mike Pence, and a whole variety of other words and deeds that should move any decent American to want to keep Trump as far as possible from power.

But those other actions occur at an abstract level. One needs to cross a mental bridge that connects political actions in a civilized society to the gut recognition of the sociopathic evil they reveal. Those other expressions of Trump’s monstrousness don’t register directly on the most elemental level of our human moral consciousness.

But it’s different when we see a man violate a sensitive and decent woman, inflicting such wounds that she apparently permanently lost her capacity to have a romantic relationship. When we see that, Trump’s monstrousness registers on that kind of basic, moral, human understanding that long precedes things like constitutional political orders.

That’s why this case now looks to me not only as a place where a particular woman will — it seems likely — get the good justice she seeks (though a single juror could protect Trump from being held accountable). But also as a drama that will help turn even more of the American people against this terrible man.

This trial looks, in other words, like a valuable part of the overall strategy to sweep off our national stage this human monster who has done so much damage to the nation, and threatens to do much more.

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