This Is How Democracy Dies

In the course of the 2nd Presidential Debate on Sunday, it was easy to lose sight of the most important development that occurred in the midst of the cacophony. That development is the most horrific thing American politics has endured in its history: Less than 3 hours ago, as of this writing, Donald Trump threatened to have his political opponent jailed should he be elected.

When one calls to mind political jailings, one imagines Soviet states and banana republics. But tonight, in the United States of America, Donald J. Trump crossed a line as abhorrent and shocking as it is unprecedented. Hot off the heels of a leaked admission to sexual assault, just as we thought he could sink no lower, Trump has proven himself to be craven and despicable beyond the wildest fascinations the human mind can dream up.

During the debate, Trump declared:

If I win, I’m going to instruct the attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation because there’s never been so many lies, so much deception … A very expensive process, so we’re going to get a special prosecutor because people have been, their lives have been destroyed for doing one-fifth of what you’ve done. And it’s a disgrace, and honestly, you ought to be ashamed.

Let me be absolutely and unequivocally clear: a Presidential nominee threatening to have his political opponent jailed violates and desecrates the very bedrock of American democracy. It is an abject threat and terror to the sanctity and freedom of this country.

Notice how artfully Donald dodged around saying something explicitly illegal. The references to “a special prosecutor” come within an inch of threatening to arrest Clinton, without actually toeing the line into directly stating it. But the horror did not end there. When Clinton responded by saying, “It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law of our country.” Trump responded with, “Because you’d be in jail.”

I don’t even know what else to say. This is how democracy dies, not with a bang, but with a combover.

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