On Tuesday morning, in the latest of his temper tantrums about the ongoing impeachment investigation against him in the House of Representatives, the president of the United States tweeted this:
"So some day, if a Democrat become President and the Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the President, without due process or fairness or any legal rights. All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here - a lynching. But we will WIN!"
This statement is obviously ignorant, factually incorrect, and a disgrace to the office its author holds. Lynching is one of the darkest stains on American history, a testament to the hatred and bigotry that was so deeply ingrained in American culture and a system of institutionalized racism we still have yet to overcome.
But a powerful white billionaire complaining about how tough he has it (while simultaneously profiting from his office and holding the most powerful job on Earth) has to do more than with just Donald Trump. It shows how insulated wealthy and powerful Americans are from having to face the consequences of their actions.
Donald Trump is a man who reaped hundreds of millions of dollars from his father, much of it acquired through likely fraud or tax loopholes of, to put mildly, dubious legality. A man who has been able to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy six times without putting a significant dent in his personal fortune. A man who was able to first not pay the contractors who helped construct those eventually-bankrupt enterprises, and now still hasn't paid cities where he's hosted rallies. And yet he's never faced significant legal consequences and was elected President of the United States.
This, his impeachment, is the exception to the norm in a life full of unexamined actions.
We're seeing a man who has been able to get away with anything his entire life face some possible blowback for once — and he's stunned by it. And Donald Trump — a fraudster, a bigot, and a man who is unfit to hold the position of leader of the free world — is not entirely to blame for this shock. In this sense, he is in part a product of a system wherein wealthy and powerful are rarely forced to take responsibility for their actions.
Take the 2008 financial crisis, for instance. Wall Street banks and credit rating agencies committed blatant fraud that led to the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, caused millions of Americans to lose their homes, and caused home values to plummet. As a consequence, exactly one Wall Street executive went to jail, while two Bear Sterns hedge fund managers were tried and acquitted. No CEOs were charged and fines were leveled against the companies themselves while individual actions went unpunished.
When rich, powerful people who have been insulated from consequences their entire lives are occasionally expected to take responsibility for themselves, they often conflate being unused to facing consequences with those consequences being unfair. We've all watched the last few months as Lori Loughlin has struggled to understand how bribing her daughters into the University of Southern California was wrong and has realized she might actually be going to jail. Part of the reason the college admissions scandal was so engaging and fun to follow was because it kind of confirmed what normal people already knew — rich people can get away with just about anything — but for once they were going to have to answer for themselves.
In the same way, Trump actually having to answer for his rampant corruption and ineptitude through the ongoing impeachment inquiry is the first time he may not be able to skip away from his problems without a care in the world. Trump comparing a Constitutionally ordained process to a lynching is inexcusable and despicable, but in his mind, it must seem like some great injustice. The rules which apply to normal Americans have never really applied to him or people like him. And for a man who has never faced discrimination or oppression a day in his life, who has had virtually every opportunity handed to him on a silver platter, who has been able to fail upwards his entire life through little else than inherited wealth and bravado, facing the music must feel like some great injustice.
Since Donald Trump is a petulant, racist man, he voiced that sense of shock by comparing it to the racist murders of thousands of African Americans — only further underscoring his bigotry and disconnection from reality.
I, for one, would love to see Donald Trump face the consequences of his actions. And I look forward to the day when the wealthy elite of this country realize that being held accountable isn't injustice. Being given a get-out-of-jail-free card just because you have money is.