Before Trump, presidents based most clemency decisions on what they thought would best serve justice. But in pardoning war criminals, allies who refused to “flip” on him, or the simply well-connected, Trump is serving only himself.
The damage goes way beyond the individual pardons, especially because they’re so typical of all his behavior. Trump’s open cheating corrupts our whole system, by making corruption seem normal, or even “smart,” as he boasts.
It degrades what the Founders knew as “civic virtue” — our shared faith in democratic values — without which democracy can’t survive. Many of Trump’s followers see what he’s doing, but accept it because they think everything is corrupt and “at least he’s on our side.”
This is one of many frightening parallels between the state of our democracy and the fall of one of its inspirations, the ancient Roman Republic. Caesar Augustus took over when Romans, like many of us, had lost their faith in democracy. Augustus promised to make Rome great again — as long as the people gave him all the power and accepted corruption as normal.[Read more…] about Trump’s Pardons Aren’t Just Corrupt, but Corrupting: of Justice and Democracy