Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, our collective interest in the Trump legal escapades is ultimately about whether or not there’s any part of the husk that is the American experiment worth saving.
His crimes are so obvious, his attempts at covering them up so insipid and blatant, that a system that ultimately fails to hold him accountable and, more importantly, punish him in such a way that it discourages others from attempting anything similar is irrevocably fucked.
It’s that “irrevocably” that’s at stake here. We already know we live in a deeply flawed and gamed system where a billionaire asshat can put a cobbled together metal X on his roof that strobes an incredibly bright light and building inspectors checking to see if this janky-ass testament to insecurity might topple to the ground in a stiff wind are simply told “no, you can’t look at it, I reject your authority over me.”
But can this system at least do the bare minimum necessary to Trump? We don’t know. We hope it can, even as the cynical part of ourselves doubt it will. But there isn’t some other line past this one where the system can still redeem itself. This is the definitive test. We find him guilty of all the things he’s obviously guilty of and punish him and, after that, make sure he somehow doesn’t become President again (and the fact that that’s even a necessary step here is shocking to even the numbest of cores) or it’s over.
Passing this test means there’s a bottom to the hole we have to crawl out of. Failing it means we just keep falling.