Felony conviction of Trump says no one is bigger than our democracy

Donald Trump’s conviction Thursday on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, all designed to hide his affair with a porn star from the voting public, will not alter the outcome of the presidential election this November here in California. But something much bigger feels at stake for both our state and nation.

The moment merits some careful reflection by all of us, regardless of one’s political beliefs.

American democracy is going to be tested in ways we cannot now fully appreciate or anticipate. This conviction may now lead to a possible prison sentence for a former president while he is frantically seeking to regain office and avoid other, greater trials of alleged wrongdoing. Trump is rejecting the institution that convicted him.

This is unprecedented. This is no milestone; this is a turning point.

The public has become anesthetized to the daily assaults by a national leader against the legal system, the voting system and the political system. Bashing the United States has become a sickening loop of background music in our daily lives. Our fragile democracy relies on a degree of faith in these institutions that Trump has spent years debasing. And now this?

A business record is neither Republican nor Democrat. It is a document with numbers, facts, and time stamps. What made these documents key to felony convictions in the eyes of the jury was the intent behind contained within them. It took the jury very little time to study the meaning of these documents and come to a unanimous verdict: Donald Trump was secretly paying Stormy Daniels to try to hide an affair from the public for public reasons.

When a divided United States Supreme Court nearly 24 years ago ended a vote recount in Florida and awarded the presidency to Republican George W. Bush, Democratic candidate Al Gore accepted the controversial outcome, and the nation moved on.

We are not going to quickly move on from this Trump verdict. Our nation will divide more deeply into factions. A close race for the presidency will grow even more bitter. It may feel that there is nothing united about our 50 states.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”

Freedom is hard, but it and our most sacred public institutions are worth fighting for. We still have in common a belief in freedom. It survives due to the best in us and despite our worst demons. What is important to our nation is that no one is above the law or the institutions enforcing the law.

We are going to have to remember what is important about our country — in this critical and emotional moment — to keep our shared democracy alive.

This editorial first appeared in The Sacramento Bee. This commentary should be considered another point of view and not necessarily the opinion or editorial policy of The Dominion Post.