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By Bill Shunas
Suppose . . .
What if Donald Trump did jail time? How would you like to be on that ex-president Secret Service detail? Not good duty. Then again it would probably be one of those country club prisons. Maybe you could improve your tennis game. Trump likes golf. Maybe he could build and donate a golf course for the prison. It wouldn't cost too much because the land would be free and he doesn't always pay his workers, and then he could bring in Mexican workers who don't have papers. As he found out from personal experience, they come cheap. Maybe that attitude explains why he has no problem shutting down the government. He's used to getting work out of people he doesn't pay. But I digress. Suffice it to say that adding a golf course to the prison complex would please many future politicians.
Maybe we could send him and his entourage to Guantanamo Bay. The government doesn't seem to be sure of what to do with Gitmo, so re-develop it. Returning the land to its rightful owner doesn't seem to be on the agenda. With John Bolton now in charge of US policy in Latin America redevelopment is not likely an option. He probably has plans to use Gitmo as a jump off for an invasion of Cuba or somewhere to the south of Miami Beach. Too bad. Gitmo could be the perfect place for Trump's confinement — a perfect place to build another Mar-a-Lago. However, to make him comfortable you would have to move the current inhabitants. He probably couldn't deal with any Muslims. Then he could relax and spend his free time channeling Richard Nixon. "I. . .am. . .not . . .a. . ."
There's no doubt he would get special treatment. I wonder what kind of prison job he would get. It is alleged by fake news that he has trouble reading, so the library is out. Do they still make license plates? Maybe that's too skilled for him. I wonder if he's ever washed dishes. He blew his chance to learn KP back in the day when he (or dad's connections) convinced the draft board that he had bad feet. I seem to remember that there was an epidemic of bad feet back then. I wonder if Dad ever made him wash. Maybe he dried. Maybe he'd get into a prison where the prisoners were farmed out to work for local companies for less than minimum wage. That's a concept he could understand.
Then there's rehab. If he gets an early out from his prison, isn't he supposed to spend time in a halfway house? The only problem with that (for him) is that there might be some poor people at his halfway house. Losers. That's what he would say. Losers who couldn't pull themselves up by their dad's bootstraps. He might hire some of these people for less, but if he had to sleep there? Naw. The Secret Service wouldn't let him. Who knows? There might be an immigrant there. That could be dangerous. And what if that immigrant were from Central America? One of those eight-year-old assassins separated from Mom? And what would his base say about that? Living with those people?
The one worthy bill passed in the first term concerned prison reform. Among other things, it would reduce time served for non-violent offenses. Supposedly Jared Kushner was a force behind the passage of this bill. You think he did this for his father-in-law, maybe get him off early? Or maybe this is intended to help the whole family. Jared and Junior seem to have been skirting the law a time or two themselves. This could help Trump. Or there might be another case that would be a guideline for how to punish Trump. It's the case of Jeffrey Epstein. He's the billionaire convicted of sex trafficking. His punishment is that he has to go to the office every day and return to confinement at night. Sounds like it fits Trump. I can imagine what that confinement looks like. Maybe this is the kind of confinement an ex-president would get. Or even a sitting president
Surprisingly, several people in Trump's orbit are going to get jail time. I say surprisingly because most operators at that level find a way around the law. These Trump people turned out to be the gang who couldn't shoot straight, and they're going to pay. Some of them anyway. Dumb. Most who get that high have a get-out-of-jail-free card. Happily, these people don't. Maybe even Trump. It's about time.
A big problem with Donald Trump as president is that the political conversation is always about him or whatever nonsense comes out of his mouth or twitter finger. I'm not a historian, but I would guess that never before has there been anybody who so dominated the agenda of public political discourse. On a slow news day, he will create some controversy just to keep us all reacting. And make no mistake, some of his lies and innuendos and fake news do generate interesting discussions. We all get our interest up and get involved in this game. He got us. He, or what came out of his mouth, is the center of our attention. He has a need to be the center of attention and is well practiced at putting himself there. He uses outrageous statements that will stir somebody's pot or declare something is true when it is not: also known as fake news.
The result of this dynamic is that every day there are things that Trump has said or done which we are talking about. All of us react, whether we are interested in politics or not, whether we're interested in social justice or not. The result is that the conversation revolves around his daily opinions and is diverted from things that need to be talked about. Why isn't there more serious discussion of the effects of climate change? Or affordable housing and homelessness? Ongoing wars that have lasted too long? And so on. Granted that in the past issues of social justice usually got decided by decision makers who did not take to heart the well being of the populous. And granted that it might not happen in the future. Still, under that process, you sometimes can get a good thing done. That doesn't happen without debate and confrontation, but if it is on the table, it's always possible. Some of these newly elected congresspeople are raising important issues. This is a good thing. One hopes that the conversation will remain invigorating.
For now, Trump is the person who usually sets the daily agenda. As a result, you usually don't get to these serious discussions. I don't know if he consciously does this or if him being so needy is the cause. Either way, discussion is limited. If he soon fades into history, there's a better chance to get to the point where the people have more say. What happens to Trump is not the most important thing. Sure. If he got jail time, it might give many of us a warm feeling. And it will be progress when he is gone. Then we will have to struggle with the next administration.
Bill Shunas is a Vietnam veteran, author and VVAW member in the Chicago chapter.