Opinion | Unraveling the Irony of the Trump Indictment

Samuel Sullivan

The surprising connection between his meteoric rise and legal downfall.

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President Trump resonated with Americans as a political outsider, vowing to “drain the swamp” and tackle corruption at the highest levels of government. Americans are fed up with corruption and see politicians becoming wealthy in unethical ways. The absence of accountability is frustrating.


According to Trump’s Twitter archive, he tweeted or retweeted about draining the swamp 135 times from October 2016 to May 2020. In addition, he promised to get rid of corrupt politicians, but his definition of corrupt often seemed to target those who merely disagreed with him.

Corruption is a byproduct of power. In fables and myths, it’s a common theme. Superheroes, for example, tend to abuse their power only to realize their responsibility in the end and get back on course. The message is: Overcoming yourself is more difficult than overcoming the most challenging bad guy.

And it’s not only superheroes who become corrupt over time. It’s human nature for power to corrupt, and that applies to politicians. But what counts as corruption in American politics, and is it easy to prove?

Quid Pro Quo

The 2014 Supreme Court ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC made it clear that only quid pro quo or “something for something” can be targeted in laws made by Congress. The most common example of quid pro quo, when it comes to corruption, is bribery.

The ruling makes sense for America because it wouldn’t be efficient for members of Congress to be prosecuted for corruption or have to defend themselves constantly instead of doing their jobs.

However, it isn’t good for America for other reasons. It allows for unethical and borderline corrupt behavior at the highest levels of government, which is the current status quo. It’s also damaging because it gives people with more money a lot more power. Donating lots of money and getting advantages in return is legal if it’s not explicit. Is it fair? No. But does it count as corruption? No.

No Need for Perfection

Elections are the people’s opportunity to oust politicians. The Supreme Court has clarified this idea by redefining the definition of corruption. However, the current two-party system allows politicians to get away with unethical behavior as long as they keep the backing of their party.

The Supreme Court recognizes that some immoral behavior is inevitable, and for the most part, Americans are okay with it. Looking at the first amendment, petitioning the government for a redress of grievances is protected, and lobbying has long been an accepted practice and big business. Money has been used for government persuasion for a long time, and it would be difficult to change such an ingrained system.

Americans know there is unethical behavior in the government, but as long as it doesn’t affect their daily lives, there are more significant issues to tackle. The good news is that trust in the government still exists. The bad news is our system is running efficiently.

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The Irony of Trump’s Indictment

Part of Trump’s appeal was his rhetoric around draining the swamp. Jon Stewart contends that Trump’s original popularity was because.

“Americans have become fed up with the lack of accountability for those in power.”

The accountability Trump talked about on his journey to the White House knocked on his door while he was in office in the form of two impeachments. The door was bashed down when a New York City grand jury recently indicted him on 34 counts of felony falsifying business accounts.

In a way, Trump was successful in bringing some accountability to politics. But ironically, he’s the one who finds himself indicted and not the members of “the swamp.”

This development could warn politicians, encouraging them to behave more ethically out of fear of prosecution. In an unexpected twist of fate, Trump’s rise to power might ultimately contribute to increased political accountability.

Will the Trump indictment lead to more political accountability in American politics?

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Lifelong learner & Teacher sharing insights on history, life, and beyond.

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