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DONALD TRUMP
Columns
Opinion articles written in the style of their author. These texts are to be based on verified facts and must be respectful towards people, even though their actions may be criticized. All opinion articles written by individuals from outside the staff of EL PAÍS shall feature, along with the author’s name (regardless of their greater or lesser renown), a footer stating their office, academic title, political affiliation (if any) and main occupation, or the occupation related to the topic being assessed

Tyrant by free popular election

If Trump emerges from the hornet’s nest alive and reaches the finish line, he will be the most powerful president in the history of the United States, placed above the law with the endorsement of the Supreme Court. In that case, we do not know what will become of the Constitution or democracy

Trump
Donald Trump, at a rally in Waterloo, Iowa, on Tuesday.SCOTT MORGAN (REUTERS)
Lluís Bassets

Trump likes Putin, but he’s not like Putin. He may be so in his authoritarian instincts and his disdain for liberal democracy, but their paths to power are totally different. Putin was chosen by Yeltsin, and the polls had no role in the rigged elections that perpetuated him in the Kremlin. Trump had the presidential majority in the electoral college in 2016, although not in number of popular votes, and according to the polls he is on track to repeat it at the next elections next November.

If so, he will be a tyrant by free popular election. Now freer than seven years ago, when he won by surprise and raised false hopes that the Republicans would moderate their absurdities. Everyone has been warned these days, those who vote for him and those who may suffer the international effects of his return to the White House. And if there is reason to fear the extremism of his collaborators and of the program he is preparing, there is even more reason to fear the degree of immunity he will achieve if he overcomes all the judicial obstacles that stand in his way.

For such a thing to happen, it must be the judges, and in particular the justices who make up the Supreme Court, who grant him the status that corresponds to a monarch, above all other powers, which is exactly what the founding fathers of the United States wanted to avoid at all costs. Trump is facing four cases in court, three criminal and one civil, with almost a hundred counts, among which the incitement to insurrection for the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021 stands out.

A special counsel has already asked the Supreme Court to clarify whether Trump is covered by immunity as a former president, as his defense lawyers claim. It will not be the only pronouncement that falls to the highest judicial institution. It must also rule on a decision by the Colorado Supreme Court that has just excluded Trump as a candidate for the Republican primaries in that state for instigating an insurrection, as may happen in 13 other states in which similar lawsuits are pending resolution. The 14th Amendment of the Constitution makes it clear that no one involved in an insurrection can hold public office, but the controversy it raises is dark, convoluted and endless, up to the point of arguing whether the president holds a public office and can therefore be disqualified as an insurrectionist.

Each judicial setback translates into an increase in fundraising for Trump, but polls find that adverse judicial decisions tend to discourage the less fanatical voters and favor other primary candidates. They also reinforce unanimity, which extends to the entire Republican field, even his rivals in the primaries, now at an enormous distance from Trump in the polls, all condemning in unison the interference of justice in the democratic will. Ultimately, nine justices appointed for life, three of them by Trump himself, will establish whether he can run for office and whether a former president can avail himself of immunity to avoid responsibility for crimes committed during his term. In another court and in another country, these Trump-appointed judges would recuse themselves, but it is easy to deduce what will happen in this case. Whoever appointed them was thinking precisely about counting on them for extreme eventualities such as the current ones.

If Trump emerges from the hornet’s nest alive and reaches the finish line, he will be the most powerful president in the history of the United States, placed above the law with the endorsement of the Supreme Court. In that case, we do not know what will become of the Constitution or democracy. All the tyrants in the world will be celebrating. Ukraine and Palestine will pay the price. If he does not succeed, the sigh of relief will be felt throughout the entire planet, from NATO, whose existence is threatened, to the Republican Party, hijacked by Trumpism.

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