The Democrats’ only possible path forward is to ensure that Trump does not run in 2024. So they want to lock him away in jail.

With only three years left to go, the 2024 race is narrowing to Trump versus Some Democrat. By Election Day, President Biden will be a vaguely sentient eighty-two, VP Harris will likely have left the country, and the Dems’ rainbow coalition of identity claimants will quickly winnow itself down to nobody as their collective lack of experience devalues their various claims of victimhood. What to do about Trump?

You can convince some Americans for awhile that Trump is a Russian agent, or violated an Emoluments Clause thingie they’d never heard of before, just by saying it over and over. The problem is that once the accusation reaches the judicial system, the Maddow-Goebbels Gambit withers. Once in the courts, words like “fraud” have very specific meaning. Treason, and anything that brushes against free speech such as incitement, have long trails of precedence. It isn’t a chargeable crime just because you want it to be.

Even for something as basic as the Kyle Rittenhouse self-defense case, any first-year law student will tell you there are five elements that need to be met. If the jury agrees they were met, the defendant walks, whether BL really M or not. The rule of law means those tests apply no matter how certain the public is that Rittenhouse is a murdering white supremacist. Or Trump an immoral misogynist. Of course, what the Dems really want is a law making “being Trump” illegal. But in America, these things are still decided by elections.

Everyone is familiar with the litany of failures over the last four years to turn beliefs into crimes — Emoluments Clause, Russiagate, Impeachments I and II, Stormy Daniels, obstruction of justice, incitement. On the sidelines were extrajudicial attempts connected to the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, having doctors who’d never examined the man declare Trump mentally ill, and even accusations of incest. The Southern District of New York previously failed to indict Trump’s children and failed to prosecute Paul Manafort. E. Jean Carroll’s rape-cum-defamation case was so egregiously lousy even the Biden DoJ took Trump’s side.

One of the latest rumored prosecutions-to-come involves Trump under-valuing properties for tax reasons, then over-valuing them to get loans, which despite the banks involved being happy enough with the terms after their own due diligence, Dems think maybe could be some kind of fraud. This kind of property valuation switch is practically New York City’s official sport, and is often and well-played by many property owners a few billion dollars short of Trump. The regulations governing how one values a New York property are thick.

Built into the law is an automatic fudge allowing the same property to have both a high market value and a lower asset value. Problems are sorted out as civil matters and usually settled with the city sending out a bill, especially if the bank is not claiming fraud, only the DA, as in Trump’s case. “New York’s property tax system,” writes Bloomberg, “is demonstrably inaccurate and unfair.” Michael Cohen, recently in prison for being a liar, is trying for another round in the spotlight by claiming he has the evidence. To think the Dems will ignite righteous anger among voters with something this dense is quite funny.

To date all the smoking guns have fired blanks. Behind every attempt to overturn the election was a certainty by the zealots that Trump must be guilty of something. Yet it all failed. Trump served out his term. He is not in jail. “Just you wait!” remains an ever-weaker rallying cry heard by ever-fewer diehards.

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Like the bad poker players they are, the Dems have all too obviously tipped their hand on their 2024 strategy. The full-court press will, sadly, focus on January 6, a riot wished into a second life as a coup, an insurrection, or an overthrow attempt. The characterization is silly; among other things, a coup must have some path towards success, in this case, preventing Joe Biden from becoming president. The rioters at best might have delayed the largely ceremonial counting of the Electoral College votes until the next day. They didn’t even get that done.

As before, the truth is of little importance. The Daily Beast is one of many outlets claiming something like “If Merrick Garland Doesn’t Charge Trump and His Coup Plotters, Our Democracy Is Toast.” The article does not mention any specific, chargeable crime Trump is to be charged with, though it mentions the terms “coup” and “abuse of power” a lot. Like all of its lot, it does not address the gaping question of why the actual Capitol rioters have only been charged with things like trespassing, and not treason or sedition. Surely, given what one journalist called the armed wing of the Republican Party (comparing them to the IRA and Sinn Fein), some of the January 6 cosplayers should by now be charged with something serious enough to warrant fears the Republic itself hangs by a thread.

Since the Democrats have no viable 2024 candidate, and since Trump’s support remains high, the only way to defeat him is by some non-electoral process. Political prosecutions are not new in America but multi-year political pogroms are. There has never in our history been a more sustained yet unsuccessful judicial effort to oust or destroy one man.

The Democrats, so used to failing at this, are not paying attention to the secondary effects of their dirty work, specifically exhausting those they seek to influence against Trump. After four years of faux scandals being spiked into the public’s veins, how many more times can they try the same game before voters simply stop listening?

Meanwhile, every shot at Trump that misses only increases support among his own followers, as the candidate brags about beating the charges again. When non-supporters begin to ask themselves if indeed Trump is right when he claims persecution, the Dems will have already lost.